on leaving (again)

my fingers holding up a 4 leaf clover, still in the ground, next to some purslaneIt’s moving day today, and we are leaving. Wasn’t I just writing that line? Last time it was Oakland; this time, it’s San Rafael. I barely got the time to learn the skin of this place, never mind put my ear to its heartbeat.

The photo is one I took on my walk to the bus stop one morning, past the dog park. Dangerous business, putting your fingers into the greenery next to a lamp post in a dog park, but that four-leaf clover was worth it. Wasn’t this place supposed to be lucky?

This is the last morning in our new house. This is still our new house — we’ve just barely been here a year. I woke up and looked at the walls, the light fixtures, I remembered just how I felt when we walked in and I so longed to live here.

I’m going to miss this place, I’m going to miss what I wished it could be, and I’m going to miss the neighborhood, the walk, the flowering everywhere, the neighbors, the kids walking to school, the creek of the gates opening to the cement place across the street. We are leaving the orange neighborhood cat and the orange neighborhood dog, both of whom came to visit us on our back stoop. We are leaving our back stoop, and the terrible little back house that was supposed to be a workshop space and is actually riddled with mold and wet and cold. We are leaving the small first garden in CA that was carried in containers, the cukes and the never-appeared melons, the multiplicitous tomatoes, the greens that I can’t get to come up beyond baby size, the nasturtium that stayed tiny: everything knew how much energy I had to give it, and met me there. The yarrow and mint may come up strong, though. We only got one season. And then he let us go. He sent us a letter at christmastime: we are not renewing the lease. This was a termination, and even though I was already finished with the house and the relationship, still, it’s so difficult to have the decision made for you.

We are leaving the lavender walls, the green walls, the yellow walls, and are moving to white, which we will get to decorate and brighten.

I am leaving this front window with the morning sun that comes through, and the little cafe across the street. The hardwood floors and the terrible brown curtains that we bought to try and keep the bedroom warm. I am leaving the fear of mold, the fear of being evicted. As soon as he told us that he wasn’t renewing the lease (which, of course, isn’t the same as being evicted), I wanted to get out. This place has felt like category five, like disaster, uninhabitable, like living in a barn, but without the adventure part, without the part where you’re kids, outloading glasses and dishes and books and a small light and a little broom from your mom’s kitchen and you;re creating a haven, a secret place for yourself, out in the world, and you can be adventurers, explorers in a dugout, sweeping the dirt floors, coating yourself with blankets, reading in the crickety-dark by lamplight. And then you run inside, to where the real warm is, the real bed.

Did this place ever seem real? Yes, it felt real — at first, it was magic. At first, I couldn’t believe we got to live here. I don’t understand what happened — how we could have known that, once winter came, the floors would let all the cold in, that it would be below 50 in most rooms at night, and wouldn’t hold heat very well. It was so cold at the beginning, and he wouldn’t do anything to help us. He just offered to let us out of the lease — which was the last thing I wanted. We should have taken it, but at the time, we didn’t have any more money to move. And, just a couple of months (or less!) before, we had already moved twice. And so instead I got quiet, I said, Let’s quit complaining. Goddamnit. And this from someone interested in releasing her voice, saying what’s true. Totally unhealthy.

This little house that we’re leaving was supposed to be the 5 year place.  I don’t know if I can keep thinking that way about homes (“that way”=”yay, we can finally settle down!”) because something keeps going wrong. I don’t know how long we’ll be in Tiburon — a few months? A year? How to release the expectation of home as someplace unsettled, flee-able? How to quit having one foot out the door?

What about that? We are moving to quiet and green, we are moving to sea birds and water, we are moving to something completely different. When will it stop feeling like I need something completely different to survive?

Tomorrow I will be writing in Tiburon, though not yet blogging from there, since our AT&T won’t go live til Friday. It’ll be notebooking until then.


A quick prompt: Write about a leaving, something that’s happening right now or happened 20 years ago. Who left what or where or whom? What all was left? Get into those details, if you want; so much emotion can come through them…


Thanks for the ways you are patient and gentle with yourself through your times of change, for the ways you notice what’s hard and let it just be hard for a bit. Thanks for how you can meet your real selves. Thank you for your words…

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