Saying Goodbye

There’s a cherry tree in our front yard that we planted the first spring we lived here; now, after eight years living here, we gather bowls of Rainier cherries from it in the summer. Our son celebrated his first birthday two months after we moved in, our daughter turned four, and this neighborhood provided our kids a place to grow up playing out in the streets with a whole band of kids. All day on the weekends and summers they bike, run, play, and imagine together. The garden we planted that first year is mature now, with huge lavender, sage, and rosemary bushes. In the spring and summer, hummingbirds flit back and forth between the purple flowers. Neighbors often stop to talk as I work out in the garden or walk the dog around the block. It’s a comfortable, familiar place.

When we first made the decision to sell our house, most of what we own, and head out to travel the world, everything about the idea was exhilarating. I researched country after country, read travel novels, and began planning an itinerary. I became enamored with southeast Asia, especially Thailand, while Josh wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream to see Australia. My son would talk about seeing volcanoes in Hawaii and lemurs in Madagascar, while my daughter focused more on seeing Paris and southern Spain. We would play geography games at night and talk about where we wanted to go.

As we get closer to leaving, the excitement has given way to the sadness of saying goodbye. There is, of course, what I think of as the normal sadness of moving – saying goodbye to friends and family and a place you have called home for so long. But this move is different. We are not just saying goodbye to this home, but to having any home at all. It’s human to crave the comfort of home and of the familiar; I drink my coffee from the same mug every morning and sit on the same spot on my couch every night before going to sleep on the same side of the bed. I shop at the same grocery store every week. I hang the same Christmas decorations year after year. These habits that I thought of as monotonous, these traditions I have been joyfully planning to leave behind, suddenly have more importance as I do them for the last time. I know that this time, I will not be moving to another home, another routine, and another set of familiar places.

Our cherry tree is just beginning to bloom, and I know that we will not be here to pick cherries this summer. We are leaving roots behind. As we go, I embrace both the sadness that brings and the adventure ahead.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.
– “Travel,” Edna St. Vincent Millay

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