leave old job....leave old home...enter new home...engage new life...maintain what matters

Monday, July 11, 2011


3 short weeks to go.  In exactly 21 days, on Monday, 1 August, our home of 25 years will no longer be.  Oh, I suppose it’s theoretically possible for something to fall through---the plain of life is strafed with unseen badlands and glacial fissures---but the likely future owners just cleared their final “known” crack:
“What will you miss most?” my friend, Dave, asked.
Intrigued by what could be gained by decluttering their own home, Linda and I were giving Dave and Kate a 4140 Harriet “showing” .  Well, not the white bathroom towel, lights on, 100% staged look.  But we’d managed most of the old checklist:  papers quickly stuffed into the handy leather box, cat-towels off the rented furniture, noisy basement dehumidifier turned off.  
“Not the house,” I shrugged in answer to Dave.  “It’s not mine anymore.”  No doubt that all the grueling work we did paid off;  one day on market for goodness sake.  But we hadn’t foreseen our realtor’s  slickest trick:  detaching our hearts from our house.    Each morning we awake inside the same dream:  a Better Homes and Gardens virtual tour.  Breathtakingly beautiful.   Laughingly perfect.  Unrecognizable.  Twilight-zone trapped, I nervously reach above the stove.  Open the cupboard.  Poof!  The fog lifts.  My fingers curl around the familiar handle of my tea-stained Gunflint Trail mug.
“Not you!  Not my friends,” I thought privately.  Though I’m moving a hundred miles away,  I refuse to believe I’m losing my dearest friends in any way.  After all, this blog’s banner proclaims my final intention: ‘maintain what matters’.  How would I ever dare journey the cracked plain of life without holding hands with my good friend denial? 
As we walked out onto the deck,  my mind wandered into the dappled light under the river birch, slipped around the clematis-draped trellis  to rest in the layered shade of Chris and Alby’s pagoda dogwood upon their patio. 
 My next-door neighbors, though still friends, will cease being neighbors 1 August, 1PM.  What a loss!  Aren’t neighbors the secret source of manna? 

Just yesterday Linda and I were sitting on the deck, post-church hungry,  wishing for some soft Star Thrower Farm sheep cheese or something, when presto! here comes Chris out his back door, both hands hefting bread-shaped aluminum foil. 

“It’s too hot for you guys to turn on your oven,” he offers, graciously allowing us to set aside some of our guilt.  We’d each gobbled a warm slice of chocolate-chip, coconut banana bread before Chris stepped back into his air-conditioned comfort.   Raising mischievous eyebrows, we licked our chocolaty fingers and sliced another.  After 15 years of over-the-fence hello’s, I can’t tell you how I’ll miss Chris and Alby. 
And tonight is our good-bye dinner with Jack and Nancy.  I suppose their daughter Micaela is too busy with her own home to join us on their deck.  She was a scrawny four when we moved next door: dancing, whirling, in the backyard as she gleefully introduced her next guest on her own Carol Burnett Show. 
I’m not sure if Dave grew impatient waiting for my answer, or if I’d stepped out of time, above the fountain of Jack and Nancy’s elm and drifted with the popcorn clouds down to the Land. 
The people of the Land:  our neighbors up on Calico Hill road.  Since our first meeting seven years ago, Lonny and Sandy Dietz showered us with warm greetings and veggies from their organic Whitewater Gardens farm.   We are truly different (and I’d like to think better) people because of them.  And whatever would we have done without Kim Drath and her family across the road from the campsite?  For one thing there’d be no Savannah the Wonder Dog in our life!   Tumors spreading, our sweet old girl’s days are few now.  Via the brief words of text, Linda and I share our grief and compassion with Kim.
Yes, we do and will have wonderful neighbors at the Land, but not next-door neighbors.  It’s 1600 feet down our narrow gravel driveway, then another 900 feet south on Calico Hill Rd to the cat-slung porch of Lonny and Sandy Dietz.  Even further to Kim’s.  Unless I walk the buzzing prairie to the pasture gate, cut steeply down through juniper and oak, round the cattail pond, over the mowed dike and climb her wooded horse trail.  Then it might be a little closer.
Poor Dave.  I could only hope that all these heart-tugging memories flashed speedily before me like a Lt. Commander Data file search.  I finally answered him.
“I’ll miss my neighbors,” I said with a pained smile.
“I can imagine,” he said.  So can I.
Hey!  Look!  There out the sunroom windows.  It’s Millie minding her grandson as he plays with his John Deere truck in our lawn beneath our Edina Realty Sold sign.    Gotta go!

P.S.  Micaela came!!!!

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