It is a time of transitions, not just for us but for many of the people in our lives. Some transitions have been joyous, some stressful, some very sad. I guess we are in that time of life when changes are either happening organically because of health, financial circumstances, parents’ ages, and so on…or they are being pushed along because we are at mid-life and looking to shake things up.
Honestly, though, it’s not just us. Clearly. It appears the world at large is transitioning extraordinarily. The upheaval is unsettling. The past few years have been that way—unsettling, upsetting, and sometimes downright scary. There are moments when everything is overwhelming, and I have to put my head down and shut it all out for a bit. I’m guessing you have felt that way too?
For me, these recent weeks have been one of those periods, especially after the Uvalde massacre. I’ve avoided looking at Twitter or the news much, and it’s been especially easy to keep everything out because moving is so tedious and time-consuming. The months-long moving schedule has been a steady, relentless march toward this moment. Just when I think we are close to the end, I discover there’s still more random stuff that needs to be accounted for. It’s a Zeno’s Paradox of packing away junk.
Of course, bigger and more important things continue to happen outside of my little sphere of influence, but this personal transition is a good excuse for me to tell myself I’m just going to get through what’s in front of me now, before even trying to make sense of the really hard stuff beyond my bubble.
So after all that time preparing, we are finally moving out of our house in two days, and a family we don’t know is moving in. We are leaving all our furnishings, and that includes kitchen tools, wall decor (at least the less personal ones—we figured they wouldn’t want to stare at big portraits of our family all year so we took those down), even the assortment in our odds-and-ends drawer such as twine, birthday candles, and souvenir pens from various stages of our lives.
It feels a lot stranger than leaving an empty house for someone else to occupy. It’s like they are simply slotting in and taking our place. They are going to play with our cornhole set and take care of Filly the Fern and use our Japanese bidet toilets. We are being displaced, and we’re not landing on the other side with a home to call our own. I’m curious to find out if this uprootedness proves freeing or challenging to us. Are we cut out for a nomadic life? (Stay tuned to find out.)
This week I asked Taz and Beanie what they were most looking forward to on this trip and what they would miss most from home. I asked myself these questions too. Beanie had the most interesting answers by far.
She is most looking forward to:
Taking night flights, because it’s exciting to be on a plane at night and be awake watching movies.
Seeing monkeys outside our house in Costa Rica.
Talking to monkeys outside our house in Costa Rica.
Learning to say, “Daddy has poop on his head” in Spanish. (I do not know why kids are so obsessed with things on the head. The poop part, I get.)
And this swing is what Beanie will miss the most about our home. It is her favorite place, where she daydreams and listens to audiobooks. It’s the first place she goes when she gets home from school.
I will miss watching her swing as I work at my desk. There have been many times when I’ve noticed idly, as I’m typing or on a call, that she’s been out swinging for hours. I don’t even consciously register that that’s what I’m seeing half the time. But I suspect that one day in the future, I’ll look back on memories of her swinging as I watched from the window and I’ll think, “Oh yeah, we were happy then.”
Pretty Good Things
A Few Very Different Julias
I’d like to recommend a few Julias.
I first read Julia Cho’s work when her blog was featured in the New York Times. She started writing it to process her grief after her husband died suddenly at 33 years old from a drowning accident. She writes eloquently but with rawness, and the blog is called “Dear Audrey” after her daughter but she addresses her husband often too. We sense his central role in her life, and the hole left by his absence. After more than two years of writing, Cho decided to stop—not because she had stopped grieving, but because she felt she had reached the end of what she wanted to say about her grieving process. She started a new blog, Studies in Hope, for this new chapter in her life, but Dear Audrey remains a place of connection and comfort for those who are grieving, have grieved, or will grieve, which is all of us in the end.
Julia Rothman’s drawings are whimsical, light, and distinctive. My favorite project of hers is her collection of “anatomy” books—Food Anatomy, Nature Anatomy, Farm Anatomy, and Ocean Anatomy—though her work can be found in many forms, from wallpaper to temporary tattoos. She also illustrates a column about money in the New York Times.
Julia Lee—engineer, quirkster, dog lover
OK, so this is my friend Julia Lee, who I’ve known since sophomore year of college. She is one of those people who is genuinely quirky without trying to be, and thus utterly unique. She likes video games, eating burnt food, working on her house and garden, and her Yorkshire terriers.
Julia isn’t super active on social media herself, but one of her dogs, Gizmo Lee, has his own Facebook fan page with 90k followers (!). Check it out if you like tiny dogs doing tiny dog things.