Home seems to be the theme I’m musing over as summer slides into fall. For more obvious reasons, I’m thinking about home and house, and what walls, a roof, a garage, and family and love all mean because last week Cole and I closed on our new house. We’re changing zip codes–moving south from Whitefish to Kalispell (the same city as our brewery-under-never- ending-construction). The move is because of the brewery and we wanted to reduce our commute from an half hour drive from Whitefish to a seven block walk from Kalispell’s historic East Side. I’ll let you supply the reasons why two owners of a brewery would like to be able to walk to work. In June, we found an old house (recently remodeled, thankyouverymuch, former owners, because we are exhausted with anything that resembles a remodel) on the quiet and American elm- lined streets and, as they say, fell in love. I knew it was the house for us when I wandered upstairs and found an office with a built-in desk and bookcases lining the walls. Cole gets a brewery and I get a writing room.
Last week we closed on the house and began the arduous process of moving, packing and lifting heavy objects. It was a special week for us–one that included joy (it is possible, we are finding as we peer upwards from the shadow of grief) and possibility. We also celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, trading gifts between loads of cardboard boxes and managing to find nice clothes among the piles of bubble wrap to have steaks and gin martinis at a downtown restaurant. Last week was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and I believe that Cole and I are ready for a new year. This was one summer I wanted to end. This was the summer that wasn’t.
Recently, my dear friend recently wrote about grief, as she marked the ninth anniversary of her youngest brother’s tragic death. She wrote about her mother’s advice to “go on” and how, in the nine years since, she’s done so. And on Cole and I (try to) go. It may sound simple and trust me, it isn’t. And we find it peculiar that you can, even three months after Nigel’s passing, have joy. Bouts of happiness. Yes, they, including the moment we toasted our marriage–marveling at how time rushes past– are tinged with sorrow but we still try to smile. We catch ourselves in a fit of laughter and we hold each other and look at our new house and say, “This is home. This is what we wanted.”
For now, I try to take in those moments of joy, be they a croissant at the local bakery (also within walking distance, I so love living in town) or as I unpack my boxes of books and delight in placing them just so on the shelf. I also take in those moments of deep pain when I remember Nigel’s jokes, his wry smile, and when his fingers touched upon the piano keys and I couldn’t help but wonder where talent like that came from.
We’ve moved into our new home and we’re also moving through this scaffolding of grief, finding shelter in the place where joy and sorrow meet. We may slip on the rails and stumble on the planks, but we try, and try, and try to go on.