August 17, 2017
Dear Cherished Heart,
When house shopping, people ask you — “But did the house have good bones?” I love metaphor but I have a really hard time seeing the bones of a house when they are covered up. Let’s say the bones are the things that hold the house together; they create a structure to wrap the sinew of our lives around.
This week, after months of laborious work alongside of loving friends and family, our spacious home emptied completely over a three-day period.
Movers came and carried out our boxed-up and wrapped possessions.
Mom came and helped me re-purpose (more) items to Goodwill and to random strangers.
We loaded a truck of all the miscellaneous crap and recyclables that were no good to anyone and headed to the dump. (This was the fourth and final trip to the dump over the months long process.)
We took two car loads of stuff to a friend’s garage so that I can fill the kitchen and organize the office in our new house next week, before the moving truck arrives.
And all through these three days we cleaned. I touched each and every surface of the house as if preparing a daughter or son for marriage. Tender loving care.
Yesterday my mom and I careened through every room—touching up and making sure we had everything. Our remaining goods poured out the front door, draining the house of our essence.
I met my first hermit crab years ago when my kids went to preschool, guided by the creature-loving, animal whispering Mrs. Dobler. Hermit crabs are crustaceans but have a soft and vulnerable abdomen that they need to protect – at all times – by carrying around and living in a vacated seashell. As they grow they abandon one shell and move to another. Theirs is a physical growth but I would suggest that we humans need to do this too, change shells as we grow.
As our house moved from a living home to a shell that had held us, the sound inside changed from whispered memories, to creaks of relief as the burden lifted, to the hollow echo of a seashell.
It reshaped under my hand like a sculpture that takes its own form. Not my plan, some master plan.
Late in the day we walked through the house with our realtor before closing the doors for good. I felt pride in the care I had taken to prepare this shell for the next hermit crab. I felt sad walking through the emptiness with the person whose life I had shared there. Leaving the house was like the ending to the end of our marriage; a waxed seal irrevocably sealing our separation.
There can be no doubt that the waxed seal, empty shell, and strong bones signify an ending. It hurts and I think I will stay here for awhile. But my new home is being transformed into a shell right now, and soon we will fill it up and rattle the bones of it.