When we left our old house on Schuyler, I knew it would be awful. It was our first house, and we forged lifelong friendships and created countless fun, sad, hilarious, beautiful memories during the eight years we lived there. Dutchie died there. A few months later, Brady made herself at home there. We lived there when Grace was born. That's what did it, actually. I got tired of picking ants out of her hair when I was nursing her (gross), and the mouse poo in her bedroom closet was the final straw. But that last day, when I was cleaning the empty rooms, I cried -- no, sobbed -- the entire time I was there. I drove by today, and the garden I planted in front was in full bloom and beautiful. I thought, That's MY garden.
I never expected a twinge of anything other than pure joy leaving this place. But last night I was going through mountains of Grace's baby clothes to bring to a clothing exchange, trying to limit myself to one box of really, you know, meaningful pieces to keep. And suddenly I was having a panic attack and feeling weepy. We never connected with this community, and we've made more enemies than friends. Still, this is where I last nursed Grace. This is where she finally began walking at fourteen months, as if she'd been doing it forever (below). I remember thinking, when we took our first walk outside, her little hand in mine, I could die happy right now. She started talking here (and may never stop). Lots happens in two years when your baby becomes a toddler and then a little girl. Grace won't remember this place, but there are some things I will try to remember for her. I'll tell her about the ducks, geese, blue heron and egrets that make the Columbia Slough their home. I'll remind her of our summer walks, stopping to pick dandelions, collect pine cones and smell every flower. I'll leave out how the police shot and killed a neighbor last year just because he was waving a rifle at them. And we will NEVER AGAIN SPEAK OF THE HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION.
(No, I don't know why I sound like I'm from Minnesota.)