“That’s my house! Isn’t it?” I thought. The Prius crawled by, headlights illuminating the 4100 block of Harriet Avenue, what was my home for the last 25 years. Until Aug 1, closing day: when we’d signed over all rights to our house to the buyers, Mark and Kari. Then the Prius carried me to the Land, where I’d stayed, planting myself into the thin soil of a new life, never returning until Sept 15. Six weeks.
And I’d had a great day: Mike in Minneapolis. Friends. Food. And finally---the reason for scheduling my first trip back on a Thursday---Yoga with teacher Monica and my kula, in the Ann Judson room of Judson Church. But I’d forgotten that Judson church sat on the corner of my 4100 block of Harriet. I’d just hugged my friend Missy good-bye in front of Common Roots restaurant and hurried off, about to be late for my 6:30 class. Not until the Prius turned off of Lyndale onto 41st street, did something in me remember. And as I turned right onto Harriet Ave, I seemingly drove into a slow motion movie. The hood of the Prius turning in front of me, suddenly stopping. Vivid sounds: my car door opening, children laughing in the church playground, the pop of my car trunk.
There it was: my yoga mat. Suddenly, all returned to normal. I walked inside.
But all that was as nothing compared to driving past my old house. Yoga was over: the welcome back I’d received is worthy of an entire blog itself. After class---soaking up good feelings with Monica and my old kula---I’d lingered long. Too long. I’d forgotten I was at Judson, my church of so many dear friends. Suddenly, there’s Dottie and Eileen and Dave and Jenny and Leslie. What can I say to them; I was already quite late getting to Brad and Pam’s where I would stay the night. I’d pretty much just drove out of our life together. Is it better to say nothing of my 6 weeks of impossibly rich new life, than to speak Minnesotan: “I’m good”, “cabin’s cozy”, “house has walls now”? I can’t remember what I said, it was all too surreal as I waved good-bye to Jenny and Dave, urging them to post a photo, anything, on Facebook.
Now I was totally unprepared for the drive down Harriet Avenue. I wanted to stop the car, get out, run back and hug Jenny and Dave, then snuggle under their porch-light, sipping white wine and munching chocolate chip cookies. My gosh, I’d known them since Griffin kicked around inside Jenny’s belly.
So the Prius, sensing my pained madness, took charge of the situation. No whir of engine. No crunch of wheels. A boat adrift on river Harriet. Dark it seemed, yet my gaze now was fixed: always to the right side of river. Sooner or later it would appear. And “it” had no name. No memories whatsoever. Some part of me just had to see “it”.
Suddenly, just ahead---as the Prius carried me past what must have been Jack’s lush front yard garden---a light, a warm front porch saying “come in , come in”.
Then I turned my head away, stared straight ahead. I couldn’t even look. Not yet. No thoughts of any kind, no image of Mark and Kari and their new life in our old house, no memories of my 25 years in that house, came to me. I could have drowned in that thick fog.
Yet Prius saved me. We drifted on. Down River Harriet. Past Jack and Nancy’s. Ray and Jan’s. Chris and Albie’s. Zan and Laura’s. Dave and Katherine’s. My heart so heavy, I could have heaved it overboard, anchored. Prius slowed at 42nd street, turned, drifted on.
Then a light. Brad opened the door. Pam pulled me in. Hugged me. Honeycrisp apple. Peanut butter and jelly. White wine in the leather recliner.
What does it mean to leave old home? Enter new home? Engage new life? Maintain what matters?
As I sit here beneath the lean-to---a new sun trying to peak beneath the heavy curtain of fog---I feel so blessed. So taken care of.
The River Harriet carries me on: down our long gravel driveway...
past Tom the Builder's truck, the House the Land Built...
past windrows of firewood, waiting to warm us this winter...
greeting the sea of grass, its waves lapping at my feet.