For three days last week our house swarmed with people. First a team of packers, then packers and movers, putting all of our stuff in boxes, then loading it all in two long trucks, finally driving away Friday afternoon. Our only job was plying them with a constant stream of coffee and snacks, then cleaning up the mess left behind once all the boxes and furniture had been cleared away.
As empty as this house looks right now, it’s actually still filled with stuff. Tiny bits I get the pleasure of picking out of dust piles, recently swept. Toys that rolled under beds, then got quickly forgotten. Sheets of paper that slipped behind dressers. And, in my impending-move emotional state, each abandoned piece I find is serving as a reminder of times past.
1. Legos. A favorite toy in this house, the tiny pieces go everywhere. When we first moved to Belgium, an enormous box of Legos came with us in our express shipment so it was one of the only toys in our empty house three years ago. We spent hours digging through the pile that had been dumped on the floor, rebuilding from old sets of directions, during that first lonely winter.
2. A homemade “Phillippe Gilbert USA Fanclub” sign that we held on the side of the road during the Liege-Bastogne-Liege bike race.
3. A handful of US to Europe electrical adapters that we’ve slowly misplaced. I will not miss using them.
4. Ten euro cents and one US quarter. My kids find American money unusual and have no idea how much it’s actually worth. The euro is the scale they understand.
5. One gelato spoon, bright green. One French fry fork, sky blue. Yes, Belgians eat fries with a tiny fork. And, yes, I kept the gelato spoon, to add to my collection.
6. A pencil imprinted with “Larchmont Elementary School”. Larchmont was our school in Virginia, but SHAPE will be the school that L remembers as “her” elementary school, when she thinks back. While it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last, it will be the school that she spent the most time in as a child.
7. A poster of a winter scene, made by preschool hands. E has grown up the most since arriving here. When we arrived, he could neither read nor write. Leaving, he can do both, in two languages.
8. A wall of gross. Evidently, a certain little boy I know uses the wall above his bed when he can’t find a tissue. Let’s just leave it at that. I didn’t say all of the reminders were perfect.
9. Shells picked up from the beach on the Black Sea in Romania and a Harry Potter bookmark from the studios in England. European adventures were had these past three years!
10. A cat whisker. R.I.P Stella. For 18 years, you were a very good cat.
Moving is never easy. Spending all that time making a place your home, then leaving it behind. Watching your things get wrapped, boxed, then driven away. Saying goodbye to people and places. Starting over.
Wish us luck as we take our next step. Begin again. Make new memories!