Four months ago today, the movers knocked on our door at 9 Professor Stancho Vaklinov, and packed up the Bulgarian chapter of our life. Now, after packing and unpacking six more times, we have our own dishes and sheets again, and Gus has found a place to sleep. Our home is once again a home! Filled with lavender soap, baking pans, fifteen years of memories slowly unfolded from brown paper, and a pile of Nikes next to the door. Everything has changed and nothing has changed as we settle into the details of our new life. I wonder how I trusted all these years, that the shipping containers full of our treasures wouldn’t slip and fall into the ocean? I am never shipping these precious memories again! I’m so grateful we’re finally home.
Our first few months in Arlington have been better than any of us imagined. The trees lining these familiar sidewalks are much taller now, and it’s just beautiful here. The metro is close, the traffic is light, the boys play basketball and are learning how to fix up cars. There are football games and new friends, and a Driver’s Ed elective at school. After a year and a half of anticipating what we thought would be a precipice, how are we all so happy? The grocery store sells pumpkin donuts, and my walk home from work is a gift every day. This is going to be okay!
In these first months the best part has been being near people we love again, and friends, who it turns out, are probably ours for the long haul. What a beautiful feeling! Generations of families were together for a wedding in Vermont, a trip to a little town still spills with family stories in New York, and the history, love, and fish fry are still running deep. We saw windows full of candles, living rooms full of teddy bears, the Baseball Hall of Fame, lots of cousins, and found Robert Frost’s final resting place. There is so much still to teach our kids, how could we be anywhere but here?
These places and connections are why we exist, and I love being close enough to hug them again.
Gus is doing okay too. I think he’d rather not move around the world so much, but it turns out he really loves sleeping on soft things just about anywhere. He’s also very forgiving. Even though he’s had to spend a lot of time adjusting to new beds and new routines, he still runs to greet us when we come in the door. His new cat food is not doing any favors for his waistline, though! I guess the American diet affects pets too.
With the past weaving itself newly into our life, I’m in disbelief at how much better it is than I remembered. We left with a sense of waiting for life to start, and now we’re emerging on the other side as lucky ones, whose life ended up on the good side of all that anxious, youthful hope.
As we put our memories away, I’m conscious that they aren’t as infinite as they used to be. These things represent the life we chose, and there are no do-overs now.
And yet, we emerge with peace. The myths of the past and future don’t matter, and we don’t want to do any of it over. There is no greater grace than being happy, right now, facing both.