goodbye, home

I’m sitting on the floor of my nearly empty kitchen, surrounded by boxes of the items worthy of moving down to North Carolina, and trying unsuccessfully to keep from crying over the items I’ve sold or given away.

I long debated paying the fees of transporting my dining set and patio furniture, hoping that my new home could bear the memories of Somerville: of laughter shared at the wobbly maple table and glasses of wine sipped on the breezy back porch.

This transition into seminary is a beautiful gift, but as I pare down my belongings and prepare to leave this home that I’ve so loved, the absence of furniture forewarns of the absence I’ll feel when my family and friends are 700 miles away.

I was thirteen the first time I made a cross-country move.

The day the movers came to load our boxes on a truck bound from Dallas to Saint Louis, I hid on the floor of my closet and cried. It was the first time I ever felt deeply attached to a space, sitting in the darkness my only method to resist an unwanted goodbye.

I’ve made four major moves in my lifetime, each time unsure how to say goodbye to either city or space. I’ve offered myself solace by assuming I’ll move back someday, although so far that’s never been true. I find myself doing the same now. I’m only gone for 2 quick years, I find myself saying, instead of a proper farewell.

To aid in the transition, I opted to throw a party—a formal goodbye, not for me, but for my home.

When we first moved into this home, Chez Heureuse—the happy home, we prayed that it would be a space of hospitality and joy. The meals shared around the wobbly maple dining set launched the very research that now takes me on to Duke. And so to honor the sweet ways this home has fostered our journey into adulthood, we invited over all of our dearest friends and threw a house concert to say goodbye.

Every seed must die, fall to the earth for a while
It’s hard to lose and it hurts to let go
But every seed must die
             for new life to grow.

My friends Eric and Ashley from the band The Promise is Hope came to perform and help us bid our home adieu. Halfway through the set, they shared a new song they’ve been working on, which connected with not only my research on food but the bitter-sweetness of this season I’m in right now.

The kitchen floor and I have become pretty close over the past 3 years. Whenever I’m in need of a good cry and some verbal processing with roommates, I slide my back down the wall and plop on the ground, legs splayed out and arms relaxed at my side. The kitchen is the safest space to work through my emotions, though I don’t actually have to be preparing any food for it to serve as a salve to my fears.

On this floor, I’ve decided to take jobs and to quit jobs, I’ve weighed whether or not to move. I’ve questioned whether to stay in school, whether to go back to school. I questioned changing cities a dozen different times, always eager to do the next thing—until of course, now. When that next thing is here, forcing me to pack up my belongings and make the move I’ve been speaking of since I first set down boxes in this dearly loved space.

In this kitchen, I’ve tested out the million different directions my love affair with food could go: I’ve recipe tested for dream businesses, and businesses that came to fruition, if only for a short time. I’ve cooked and photographed and discovered that food photography is definitely not my thing. I’ve baked wedding cakes and birthday cakes and communion loaves and loaves shared over morning prayer.

It’s not a very pretty kitchen, and its definitely not the most conveniently shaped. There’s not enough counter space or storage. The fire alarms are placed in terrible locations and go off with just the slightest bit of steam. For the first year we lived here, we’d have dinner guests stationed with a dish towel to fan around the alarm whenever we needed to finish up something on the stove. (Eventually we just took out the battery—there are four other alarms in the 900 square foot apartment, so fear not, in an emergency we would still be okay).

But the quirkiness of this home along with the stability it provided to my time in Boston makes it a space that I will treasure forever.

As I say the bittersweet goodbye, heading back south for my next big adventure, I’m clinging to Ashley and Eric’s words:

Every seed must die, fall to the earth for awhile.

It’s hard to lose and it hurts to let go.

But every seed must die

            for new life to grow.