The last two years

Saturday morning, somewhere in Upstate New York. A small town beside a lake. My hometown.

We’re coming out of one of the bleakest winters I can remember. The endless gray. The cold darkness. It was like living in a cave for five months.

Shoveling snow out of our driveway, it was my morning exercise. I cursed the snowplow driver, the cackling demon who always buried the end of my driveway in a wall of compacted snow. The evil bastard did it on purpose, I was convinced, but of course you wanted someone to blame when you were shivering in the dark and your back was aching and your breathe was ice crystals and the goddamn snow just kept on coming.

I grew up here, and then I went away. Out West. I got married, started a career, and then moved again. Overseas. We lived and worked and played in several countries on several continents. And we traveled. Often. Thirty plus countries and counting.

And then we came back to the land of our birth. It wasn’t part of the plan.

For the last two years that’s where we’ve been, in this quiet, little town where I grew up. My parents still live here along with old friends and acquaintances, cousins, classmates—all the the people who never left. It seems to be the pattern with places like this. People don’t ever leave. They see no cause to, and even the ones who do trickle back. They settle down and raise a family, all while erecting bulwarks against change.

That wasn’t me, was never me. I get restless. And I, come to find out, thrive on change.

My parents thought we’d stay. We bought a house after all. We filled it with furniture. We planted hundreds of bulbs in our flower garden. We adopted the Dog of Destiny. They saw all this nesting as evidence and drew their own hopeful conclusions, but we made it clear from the very beginning. This wasn’t us staying. It was sitting in an airport terminal, making the most of it, while waiting for a flight that had been delayed two years. We were glad to be here, glad to spend time with family, glad to get reacquainted with old friends, but we were always going to board the plane.

Our house is ransacked. Piles of clothing and shoes and photos and keepsakes and documents and electronics and extension cords and books and boardgames and various unsorted debris. Every room an official government-designated disaster area. Boxes and bubble wrap and crumbled newspaper everywhere. The dining room is now a cargo hold jam-packed with furniture we sold, furniture to be hauled out of here this weekend by the people who bought it (fingers crossed). We sold nearly everything, just like we did the first time around, only this time there’s more stuff. How the hell did we acquire so much in so little time?

The house will be completely empty in another week or so—stuff sold at bargain-bin prices, stuff boxed up in storage, and the rest on its way to Taiwan. We’ll be camping in our own house before long and living out of suitcases.

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