These days, the first thing anyone asks me is, “Are you ready for the move?” We’re PCSing in six weeks. I should be deep in preparations–cleaning, decluttering, saying goodbye.
But the truth is, I’m hardly thinking about it.
That isn’t to say I haven’t made plans. We’ve rented a house, enrolled my sons in school, scoped out swimming lessons. I’ve joined Facebook groups for Fort Gordon spouses and the FRG for my husband’s new unit. I know there’s a Smallcakes less than a mile from my house, and I’ve signed up for email reminders about storytime at the town’s indie bookstore.
But mentally? My state of mind is firmly planted in North Carolinian soil.
Part of this is sheer practicality. There’s a lot going on in the next six weeks that has nothing to do with our PCS to a new state. My husband will be gone for almost two weeks of it. We’re planning a spring break trip to New York City and Washington D.C. I need to plan a baby shower for a dear friend, and plan my daughter’s first birthday party. There’s also Easter.
I don’t have time to worry about the future when the present is consuming my attention.
Even if I didn’t have all these distractions, I’d still be trying to focus on something other than our move. I want to stay present, focused on the life I’m living today, instead of detaching.
My natural inclination is to withdraw when I know my time in a home is coming to an end. It’s easier to cleanly snip my roots rather than stretching them until they snap.
It would be simpler, neater, to drift until the movers come, to drive away untethered into a new beginning. But living that way feels empty to me–less mess but less joy, too. It isn’t easy to keep investing in relationships that have an expiration date. But looking at the weeks ahead of me, I want to soak in as much friendship and love as I can, even though I know the eventual drive away will be that much more painful.
My husband’s first duty station was in Washington state. I was thrilled when I found out he was assigned there–I’d wanted to live in Washington since I was a teenager, romanced by the piney cliffs overlooking the Pacific. The catch? Our stay would be brief. He was in a one-year dental residency, and after it finished, we would be assigned to another base.
As we unpacked our boxes, I considered my options. I could live in the margins in Washington, keeping to myself and not putting down roots, or I could really live there and make it a home, however briefly.
I chose to make it home, and I’ve never regretted it.
I said yes to invitations. I joined two book clubs. I taught Sunday school to a room full of elderly people who taught me more than I ever taught them. I ran the trail behind my house and memorized the pond I could see through the kitchen window. I watched the herons in summer, heard the frog-song in spring, knowing I had only one chance to experience it all.
It wasn’t perfect. The dark winter left me depressed and in therapy, desperate for the sun to come out again. The adjustment to my husband’s residency was difficult at times. But I’m so grateful I’ve let the Pacific Northwest leave its mark on my life, even though I now live on the opposite coast. I’m so grateful that Washington felt like home, even though I had to leave it.
Now I’m about to be transplanted again, to leave the familiar for a new home, new friends, and new landmarks that will slowly become familiar. Part of me is excited about the changes our move will bring, but I’m not yet ready to let go of where I am now.
I’m not gone yet, and I want to be completely here until I am.
We’re going to parks and playdates. We’re sending text messages and bringing dinners to friends with new babies. We’re continuing to explore the places nearby that we haven’t had time to visit yet. We’re going to live here until we drive across the state lines, ready to make another home. The friends I love, the relationships that are still growing–I’d rather have the blunt force of a move than a slow fade. I’d rather enjoy those relationships for as long as I can before they are tested by distance.
I hope I fall in love with Georgia and our house and our street. I hope my children make best friends and that we find a regular restaurant to go to on Saturday nights. I hope we love our church and have neighbors who will call us when they need help. I hope Georgia leaves its prints all over my heart.
But right now, I’m still thinking about North Carolina. I’m walking outside at midnight to take in the sparkle of a night sky in perfect darkness. I’m listening to the pileated woodpecker hammering out his rhythm in the tree by our porch. I’m watching my children digging in the sandy grass, sorting seeds and acorns into buckets. I don’t know what I’m getting into; I’m not sure what will move my heart in our new home.
But I know what I have now, and I want to revel in it until I have to say goodbye.
For more of Lorren’s writing, check our her guest post here.