Holding on and Letting Go

The Tipping Point of Acceptance

I am sitting alone in my living room for one last time before my sister joins me as a house guest for the final week and we pack everything up. The moment has arrived.

This was the first house I every truly owned on my own. I wanted it to feel like “my” home, but I also wanted an AirBnB feel, something others would appreciate in the event I decided to travel more in the future. A year later I am able to see how my own projections unfolded. The feature wall became teal, the mid-century-esque couch came from Design Manitoba, the door got painted orange and the curtains were up-cycled from a previous life, as was the bookcase that I hauled from a neighbour’s garbage and painted “diva glam” pink.

The prophesy played itself out. After living here for a year, I will travel, and tenants will make this their home. I hope they like the teal wall and the orange door.

This living room, which I first designed from afar, has been my living room for the past year. My pandemic living room. The place I sheltered in place and spent many long hours musing, writing and drinking coffee on the couch. I got through a lot of stuff here. Finished my doctorate. Adopted a puppy. Met beautiful people. Watched four seasons of frisbee golf through the murky window. I am sad to leave it, unsure of when I’ll be back or if I’ll still have the pink bookcase when I do. Decisions that I ultimately have full control over, but not enough information to make in the present moment.

I laughed at myself yesterday as washed the pieces of the mini-food processor and put them away in their proper place in cupboard above the fridge.

“Why don’t you just these in a box?” I thought.

But the truth is that I’m not ready for boxes. I’ve worked so hard to make this house a home that it devastates me to break out the moving boxes. Even if it must be done. I’m holding on to normal for as long as I can, knowing I can, appreciating my ability to procedurally execute chaos when, and not before, it’s needed. I have experienced traumatizing moves and I’m determined to relax my way through this one, holding faith that the next kitchen will have an equally proper place to keep my mini-food processor.

It seems crazy, in some ways, to walk away from something I put so much effort into. But then I remind myself that while I am walking away I am not divesting myself. This will still be my house while I am living somewhere else. The teal paint probably cost me $30 and an evening’s worth of enjoyable work, an experience I would happily repeat if and when a new wall in my life needs a refresh. The fact that I am sad to leave makes me feel lucky for the experiences I’ve had.

My new place in California has expansive hardwood floors and a living room so large that it will surely dwarf my apartment-sized couch. We went to the thrift store and I found a huge burnt-orange rug for the new space. With this, I find myself beginning again, repeating my own patterns, first the rug and then imagining the placement of furniture. Making a home a home. Mentally transitioning from a far away place and trusting my ability to make it a reality. The rental status assures me this next home will be temporary; even so, I insist on making it “home.” This is important to me. Imperative.

My sister’s plane will be late. I have a few more minutes on the couch, alone, before I enter the next chapter of this moving story.

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