A year ago today, we got up early in the dark, probably got coffee on the short drive from the hotel where I’d worked and where we’d spent the night and drove home for the last time. I remember stopping at the 24-hour Safeway for something, maybe cleaning supplies. He dropped me off and went to work, his last day at NAS Whidbey. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room for a while. We’d loaded the moving truck for hours the night before, just us and a few brave friends who helped wrangle furniture, even our small piano, into the 26-foot Penske truck. The loading ramp was narrow and steep. It had been drizzling rain. At one terrifying moment, I’d found myself braced on the ramp, the only one in place to keep the piano from rolling back down as the guys scrambled into the truck to pull it up from the other side.
On this morning, the living room was mostly empty. But there was still a lot to finish. I called a cleaning company and scheduled them to come clean the carpets that night around 6 p.m. Then the day was a scramble and a rush. My friend Jaimie came to help me clean the kitchen that Friday afternoon, January 25, 2013. She glanced around and said dubiously, “You’re definitely not leaving today.” Then she set about emptying and scouring the fridge. “Just don’t look,” she said as she threw away a bunch of perfectly good food. At that point, I knew I couldn’t care about everything and let it go.
Zack came home from work and a friend or two came by to help again. I was non-relational, cleaning the oven as I told them what was ready to be thrown into the truck. The rooms emptied out quickly. Most of the cleaning was getting done. The carpet cleaners came as scheduled and Zack went to get us Subway for dinner while I finished cleaning the kitchen. At the last minute, I realized I hadn’t cleaned the windows, but it was too late for that anyway. We walked on socks over the wet carpets. All the rooms, all the cupboards were empty. A note for our landlord and all our keys were on the kitchen counter. Of course there was one more cupboard in the laundry room with a few things in it. These were emptied into a grocery bag. Zack swept the garage floor and loaded all the trash bags that wouldn’t fit in the can into the truck.
We walked through one more time, then locked the doors and left. What a wonderful first home this had been! We stopped at the hotel where I’d worked and said goodbye. I had one last paycheck to pick up. And my boss let us throw our trash in her dumpsters. She offered to let us stay the night again, but we were anxious to just get going, even though it was late, maybe 10 at night. Then we were off, leaving behind our first home of a year and a half and on to make a new home elsewhere.
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” (from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien)