I’m resting in my bedroom at night. It’s cool out and there is a light breeze, the benefit of living on the ocean. You can see the lights lining the dock outside. Tonight there is no one there, and the water is still. I try to sleep but can’t. As I have grown older I’ve become unable to find comfort on a hard floor. Despite my already-present nostalgia for the bedroom I painted and decorated myself, I move downstairs to sleep on my couch. This is because the couch, in addition to the dining room table, is the only piece of furniture left in the house.
Moving from North Carolina has been more difficult, emotionally, than any of my other moves in my adult life. There are many reasons for this. First of all, it has happened quite suddenly. I was expecting to be here for a while, and (to settle on the cliché) just beginning to feel comfortable when the Marine Corps ordered us to pack our things and move. I had been going to a weekly yoga class, that perhaps wasn’t the most advanced yoga practice but still an inviting release from a busy week in the comfort of mature, local women. I had enrolled in an economics course at a community college. I had a satisfying job. I kept a mental check-list of the day trips to Charlotte, Asheville and Charleston, SC that Marvin and I would do. My friends were transitioning to my “close friends” category. And with the warming spring, the beach was starting to be absolutely delightful.
Not to mention that this was Marvin and my first apartment together. He had just bought me a plethora of flowers, vines and houseplants for my birthday to grow on our balcony, facing the river inlet. We were just getting settled, not as a couple, but as a family.
Despite it all, we were packed up and ready to go less than a month after learning that we’d be moving in the first place. Chicago, our new destination, had much to offer us, and we were excited to be in the city. You just forget how comfortable your life is getting until you need to start a new one. As Marvin left for five weeks of field training, I was to do the moving (both out and in) by myself (you can thank the USMC for that one, too).
So on my last day in our beach paradise, our cat, Shiraz, is walking around the house sniffing things, as if to say, “Where did the bed go? Where is my scratch mat? Where is that island table I like to jump on in the kitchen?” The house is silent except for the waves outside, beckoning me to stay. I shut the doors so as not to hear their soothing calls. Tomorrow I am leaving, and I shall not– I cannot– look back.
The next day, Shiraz and I head to our friends Becky and Al’s house for our final night while our carpets get cleaned. I think of the pine needles from our first Christmas tree that still cling to the carpet’s threads. The time I spilled canned pumpkin all over the stairway after dropping a large bowl of it on the way downstairs, and the hour I spent scrubbing it with carpet cleaner to not make too much of a stain. Becky and Al take me out to dinner in Wilmington and I breathe in as much of the air as I can in a city that Marvin and I fell in love in again. It hurts to think that I may never return.
Yet if it does one thing, time moves forward, and all we can do in the process is adjust.
At the Wilmington airport for a flight to Boston (a quick detour before my final destination of Chicago), I give the security attendant my ID and boarding pass. My driver’s license is brand new, a smiling Beth from six months ago on her brand-new North Carolina card. Now the NC license will seem foreign to northern eyes.
The Beth of November 2010 had no idea what she was in for.
But would I do it again?