Saturday, July 16, 2016

Leave-taking

I’m buzzed on cheap white wine and the heady smell of wood smoke drifting in from a bonfire two or three houses down. This is essential.

I am a person invested in ritual; in the deliberate gestures (both small and great) that allow us to make meaning for ourselves in the world. I considered carefully how I might mark the end of my time in this small city. I would be on my own, as I was when I arrived. This too, seems essential.

The first summer we were here, we were the only tenants in the building. We ran wild, charging up and down the stairs, sliding down the banisters, and wandering out to the parking lot to dance under the moon. Moody made origami sunflowers for me, and we walked along the river, pointing out muskrats and herons to one another. It was hot—like this summer has been—and we slept on the porch, searching for a breeze, trying to keep cool. In the two weeks I spent alone after moving in (before Moody arrived) I felt like an intruder, sleeping on the sofa when our bed felt too big for me alone. Together we were at home, and when I am old and grey, I will remember the first summer.

In many ways, this summer has been a strange echo of that one. Since Moody went ahead to Manhattan, I’ve wandered around like a ghost, spackling and sanding, packing and painting. Nothing is sufficient. So I sit on our sun porch, searching for a breeze in the hot night, watching the lights turn on and off in the cell-like rooms of the hotel across the way. They reflect in the slow black river, trembling gold and orange—the night’s only stars.

Somewhere (in rooms inside of rooms inside of rooms inside me) there is a 12-year-old girl, howling for another home left behind. This is the longest I’ve lived in one place since I was six years old, and that is something. Onward.

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