Last weekend we moved.
Our new place is smaller, more intimate.
I like it.
It’s simpler to manage. (There are only so many places Ezra’s left shoe can be!) It makes sorting through the boxes and boxes of stuff I should have sold, much simpler. (If it stays, exactly where is it going to go, Kim?)
And I feel lighter here, less weighed down by stuff and keeping track of the stuff so I can find the stuff.
But today, I walked out of the bathroom, I looked at my bed and I realized…
Art’s not here.
He’s nowhere in this new place. Not in the decision of which draw to put the utensils in, nor in which painting to hang where. He’s not in the money spent at Ikea nor will he be in the car when I return a few things. He’s not in the assembly of the shelves, or the finding of the toothpaste.
He’s not in the walk in closet.
He’s not in third call to Xbox Live in two hours about the hook up issue. He’s not there when the electrician, plumber, handy man and old renter all arrive within 20 minutes of each other.
He’s not in the dinner I cook, the good night kisses I give, or in the bed where I collapse.
He’s not here.
It was not till I left the house that I see that I have left him too. I didn’t think I left him. I thought he was coming with us. But here in this new place, I see that he was in every damn thing in the old place: in the walls, in where the toilet paper was stacked and where the breakfast trays were kept. He was in the lights he put up around the large kitchen window that looked out onto the back yard. He was in where the canned soup goes, the best place for the dresser and the fiction book order: black writer fiction, black female writer fiction, dead male writer fiction and damn good fiction to reread over and over again. (Yes we really had the books divided like that!) He was in the up high shelf with the extension cords and the bicycle tools tool box.
I could hear him sometimes, in the catch of the kid’s voices as if, for just a moment, they might forget and call to him, instead of me.
In this new place, their voices are clear and call, with piercing clarity, only my name.
This feels like this is where it begins. Where our new family starts, this family of four.
Our dinner table no longer has the extensions out. It is square: one side for each of us. Tonight, I looked at each of my kids, one across from me, two on either side of me and sigh. We are a family of four now. Four sides of a square for four people.
The most weird, unnerving, pleasant and peaceful thing about this observation is that
I’m OK with it.
In 2009 we became a family of four. It was not what I wanted, not what was planned.
In 2011, it is what I have accepted and come to embrace. It is what we are, it is who we are. It is neither bad nor good. It just is.
My new place just taught me that.