So, I just unpacked. Literally. The kind where you take your jewelry out of travel kits and you buy that organizer tray for a drawer and put your makeup in it. And the suitcase that’s always half-packed. That one’s empty now and put away. The next short trip will probably be in a few weeks (I’m not sure because I’m not counting), and there’s no reason to act like it’s tomorrow. I have been “living out of a suitcase” (to one extent or another) since I graduated grad school. That was in 2006.
I used to call myself a nomad and stay ready-to-go at a moment’s notice. I always had my eye out for cheap fares or a convenient road trip, and I never seemed to stay in one closet long enough to get it organized.
But tonight I was cleaning up after the kids went to bed (after a super full, fun, and exhausting day– I sure know how to pack the days when Daddy’s gone!), and I saw all these travel bags full of everything, and piles of suitcases in the cupboard half full. And I don’t know what came over me!
I started pruning and potting a little plant sprig my Gramma gave me tonight, deep cleaning the garbage disposal (one of America’s best commodities) …I even found an Oat Bite, a piece of our favorite cereal brought all the way from India. Gross.
And then i dumped all my makeup and jewelry and medicines out of their little travel bags and started finding “permanent” places for them. And it just felt right.
We may be relocating again in 10 months or so, but I’m going to stop counting for a while. I have always been the type who’s one step ahead. That app you can use to have a 365-day-countdown on your home screen? The kind you use when you’re planning your wedding, or a baby’s coming. I had one of those for almost a year when we moved to India in 2014.
How sorry-but-I’m-already-gone can you get?? It’s probably why I barely remember that year. The year my first child turned six months, one year, and started walking and talking. I look at pictures and it’s like I’m watching someone else’s life. Some of them take me back to a vivid moment (watching Little Man teeter across our relative’s living room toward a TV remote, taking his first steps while their 5 teenagers cheered him on), but many of them happened while I was on a plane to some other continent in my mind.
How unfortunate. If I’m going to learn this lesson, I’m going to learn it now.
The future will come. You will never “arrive”.
There’s always a next step, next season, next thing.
Let’s not race off into the sunset for the rest of our life, blazing past the pitstops that were meant to be savored.
Pitstops like Buc-ee’s in Texas (my husband’s fave), the most ginormous gas-station you’ll ever see, with 15 coffee creamers and pecan rolls and thousands of flavors of jerky, and don’t forget all of the Texas shaped paraphernalia (cutting boards, inner tubes, placemats…) To drive by Buc-ees would be a tragic shame!
As my grandpa always told me with that sideways grin and twinkly eye, “Take off your coat and stay a while!”
Some of us need to learn how to take our coat off and stay a while. And this requires some of us (ahem, mostly me) to learn about sitting down to drink our coffee. Choosing the rocker and breathing deep. Putting the phone down in the other room with its constant notifications, beeps, alarms… for just… like, 10 minutes.
Feel the tension of all the things that pull and draw you out of this moment. Feel it and choose this moment anyway.
Because you’ll never be right here again.