For the first time, I can sort of see how that is done.

It has felt a bit like we are just playing house here at the new place. There is still so much to do, and there are still so many things in boxes (though those boxes are now conveniently stored in the extra bedrooms, which means that things at least appear much less cluttered). The kitchen, which is arguably the center of our home, can’t really be unpacked (and we are going to have to spend several weeks “camping out” without a proper one as the new one gets installed). But I think the real reason this house doesn’t yet feel like home is that I never really said goodbye to the old place. I had planned to go back with Mike and help clean, but at the time, it was deemed more prudent for me to stay here and start digging out. I thought it wouldn’t matter, that I had said my goodbyes back in March, and I had, to some extent. But yesterday afternoon I realized that it felt like a relationship that petered out without any closure. The last time I saw the house, I was driving away with a load of boxes in the back of the pickup truck I was driving, and I thought I would be returning. Though I was unbearably ready to move by the time we actually got to do so, I loved that house with its bright kitchen, its enormous bathrooms, and its happy memories. I hate to see our relationship end on such a nonexistent note. I am sure I will think of it from time to time and remember how things were when we had planned to stay there rather than those last few months when I felt trapped in a house that was so far from where I wanted to be.

I have friendships like that, too, friendships that ended on a less-than-positive note, and some that just faded away. I still think about some of those people from time to time, still wonder exactly what happened and how it could have been fixed. I used to write about it a lot, those broken friendships and my desire for closure. And I have learned, a bit, over the past few years, to think of things as they were before our relationships went sour for whatever reason. For a long time, I could only focus on how things went wrong in the end, not the parts where we loved each other and shared life together. I have also learned to see the crashing and burning as an opportunity to meet new people, to continue to grow. I was given the opportunity to redefine myself, to challenge my ideas of who I was and what I was about. I see the value of long-term friendships, certainly, but I also see how they can develop unhealthy patterns, not allowing one another to change. The breaking of some of those friendships forced me out of some of my patterns, and now, on the other side of all that pain, I am thankful for it.

Mike and I have seen this move as another chance to redefine ourselves and what we are about. That meant leaving things behind that we liked very much about our old town: the library where everyone knew my name, the hardly-ever-crowded Wal-Mart, the house we had chosen and decorated (and rehabilitated after the flood). I think a lot, maybe too much, about what I value and how I might live in line with those values, and I think that what we have chosen is in line with the things we claim to value. As I get used to all this change, I know we will come to love this house and what it says about us just as I love my new friends and what they have taught me. But the old friends, the old house, will have a place in my heart, too. For the first time, I can sort of see how that is done.

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