CHAPTER 15 – Moving Days
The car was packed, and the moving truck was already on its way. I’d been selected for a position in a
Midwest city, one with the potential for promotion over time. The house here was selling, at a huge loss given the market, but at least it had a buyer.
Things are changing; my Stepmom’s diagnosis of cancer, Dad's talk of moving in with me after she's gone, something he swore he'd never do. I found a little ranch house in that Midwestern city I am moving to, bigger than I would have bought for myself, but a lot less fancy and still much smaller than this house. It will provide him with his own rooms, and bath, with an entrance without steps for him.
The house stands empty. Only a few folks have been inside, a few neighbors, my parents, a couple of friends and a few dates, none of whom seemed to like dogs, which was becoming more important. We're better off moving on, even alone, I tell Barkley, there’s a big world out there with lots of things to do and people to meet.
He's only three years old. I wonder if he will miss this place.
Barkley and I made one last trek around the neighborhood and the woods behind before we left for the first leg of our journey. The moving truck had another stop to make so we would have time to travel and catch up. So many trips we'd made around these blocks. Barkley sniffed everything, pointing to the occasional piece of trash or blowing leaf, as I steered him toward the common area to do his business, rather than on someone's lawn. He, of course, would only lift his leg, and then continue on, for Barkley was always looking for something, a bright picture window, a family seated in front of it at the dining room, enjoying dinner. He'd then dash over to their lawn and squat to do the rest of his business, all right in front of their dinner. Kids squealed and giggled, adults, shot me looks that were daggers, as I would wave an apology. Then, I'd go clean up the pile, scolding him yet again, as we walked off, my cheeks blazing with embarrassment, his head held up proudly with a "that was the biggest one yet!"
We took one last walk out into the openly wooded area that runs for a half mile behind this new development, back to a little pond where he first learned to swim. Tonight, I stood at the crest of the rise of sand and dirt that made up the lip of this water-filled bowl. Man-made or nature made; it was hard to tell, for the perfect shape of the pond. But given the location, it was probably man-made. The moon cleaved the pale waste that was the sky, the sun having left like low tide, leaving this place in the shadow, just the form of a red-haired woman and the dark grieving of the earth.
I looked down and saw it, the pale abandoned nest of a Canadian goose; the goslings long having been hatched if the eggs survived both rising waters and predators. I pictured the water moving, like slow waves, but it was as still as I. We both seemingly waited for something, an act of fate, of destiny, the irrevocable sentence of time that's passed or perhaps, an invitation.
I wondered if I came back in ten years if this place would still be here? Or would it be plowed into yet another row of Monopoly houses, another neighborhood of lives and love, fights and frustration and unborn children who can't wait to grow up so they can leave this place, then wish desperately that they could return?
They say you cannot go home again, and perhaps as far as a childhood home, that is true. But what of the memories of other places we hold firm in our mind's eye? Some of them we have a name for, our elementary school, the river where we dove as far out as we could into the dark water, a place where church bells rang. In the Book of Genesis, all were drawn out of the waters of chaos by its name, "God called the dry land Earth." Sometimes, the incredibly complex can be summed up in one word. I read in a story that the Inuit Indians have one such word to bring to conceivable life the fear and the awe that possesses them when they see across the ice, the approach of a polar bear. Some things have no words at all, their form remembered only in the etchings of tears.
But of those places, both named and unnamed, there are places you are drawn back to, years later, praying they are not changed, and knowing it will not be so.
I hope in ten years Barkley and I can come back here, if only to wave at the house in which I raised him to adulthood, as to an old friend.