Packing Up

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

May 18, 2014
This time last year had us settling into a new rhythm at The Queen's Cottage. When we first came we thought we were going to be here for three straight months. We thought this was going to be a "vacation" home that would provide my brother and sister with the ability to audition for plays and the rest of us with the ability to have a place to stay while we were looking for a place to buy so that we could move to this town. As you all know, the three months came and went and turned into six and then ten and now twelve. My brother and sister have been in show after show. They got summer jobs. They found a group of friends. They are always going and doing and having the time of their lives.

Our other house - the house that we've called "home" for nine years now - is officially being sold. The buyers are just waiting for us to get everything packed up and moved out. This means that we'll be leaving behind the little town where we spent the last 20 years. I've come and gone a lot over the years, but I always returned. During every one of the seasons that I spent living away from that town, I knew that I had a room full of my stuff at "home" and a town of people who would write me letters and call just to chat and welcome me back as soon as my time away was over. 

This last weekend, we went back to do one of the final rounds of packing up. Packing after not living in a place for a year is TOUGH. First, we had to CLEAN. Then we went room by room sorting and organizing and game planning while packing what we could all along the way. We made A LOT of progress and narrowed it down to the things that could and had to wait. Now that there are officially buyers, it's coming to an end. Nothing can stay. It all has to be boxed up. This last weekend we packed up the decorations, took down the wall hangings, emptied all of the kitchen cabinets, and packed up the things that were still hanging around in closets. There were two moments that really got to me.

The first one happened in my bedroom. I stood on my desk chair - the one with the plastic blue seat that used to belong to the school and became mine when it ended up in the dump back when I was in sixth or seventh grade - and carefully took down the curtains. There was something so final about taking them down and folding them up. All of a sudden, I saw my room the way people will see it until it becomes whatever room the new people make it into.

Later on, I used the packing tape to tape up the last box of this trip. When I was finished, I gathered up the inventory sheet, the sharpie, the pencil, and the tape. I put each thing away and when all that was left in my hand was the packing tape, I had to decide what to do with it. Without even thinking, I headed straight to the kitchen. I opened the cabinet by the telephone and reached up to put it in its place on the top shelf. As my hand hovered over its spot, something happened. The tape didn't seem to belong there anymore. The cabinet was empty and it felt foolish putting the tape back there again. 

I walked away from the cabinet knowing that I would write about that moment. I was wondering what the new owners would be filling those shelves with. I thought about how they won't know that we kept the packing tape there or that my Mom often kept her little treats right on top of her extra checks on the bottom shelf. And then I thought about how they won't even care. 

Packing up is something I've done A LOT . It's not the work of packing that is tough, but the work of thinking your way through the process that is the real work. We've put the work in and we're almost ready. Every trip could be our last. After that, the town won't be home anymore. Instead it will be a place that was home. 

I left the tape. For now, it's still where every single one of us will expect to find it. Ten years from now, we'll think of it as belonging in that cabinet and we'll picture it sitting there when we can't find it.

Curtains and tape have a lot to teach us. We'll be taking them and their lessons with us wherever we end up unpacking all of these boxes and the memories that go with them. 


  1. So bittersweet. So many memories. And many more to be made there, I'm sure! :)

  2. I hope you all are able to find a new home soon. Packing up for the last time is hard. I think it's one of the reasons I didn't go to my grandparents house when they were packing it up to sell it. My parents home was the same way. I have things in places in my own home that reflect where they were kept in my childhood home. It all becomes a part of who we are. Hugs.

  3. This breaks my heart! I can't imagine leaving the home I grew up in, even though I don't technically live there myself anymore (my parents still do, so it's still "home".) I'm so sorry :(

  4. I've done this more times than I like, and I completely understand. It's SO hard.

  5. So much love in this post and for this post! I know I'll have all those same feelings when I leave my this house someday. I love that you're dedicating a post to this part of your life--it's a change that deserves to be written about and to be embraced!


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