A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.
Well, we heard “the call” again this weekend. Right in the middle of our huge yard sale. (Our yard sales are funny. No matter how much or how little we sell, we always make about the same amount of money: $350. And we always seem to have even more left over than what we started with.)
This “call” was an offer on our home.
With a closing date of August 27.
Yep. You read that right. We have one month to get everything outta here and get ourselves to California.
Four. Short. Weeks.
My sense of anxiousness and ennui has been totally replaced by a sense of panic.
Fortunately, an old friend came to visit that night. We’ve known Ben since the days when Jon worked at BYTE Magazine. He has always been “a friend in need and a friend in deed.” That is, the first time Jon was laid off with 2 days’ notice, Ben was the guy who traveled over from the coast to spend time with Jon, listening to his fears and worries, encouraging him to believe in himself, and also bringing lots of rum. Really good rum. He and Jon sat on our beautiful porch on the second floor, and helped the sun set.
Ben is an artist, too, and you can see his lovely watercolors here. (Note: This link no longer works. Sadly, Ben died a few years ago. Looks like his website is gone, too. He is sorely missed, and the only light we feel is remembering stories like this one.)
As always, Ben brought good cheer, funny stories, fond memories and new hope for the future. And just before he left the next morning, just as the numbing reality of what lies ahead hit us, he gave me the exact words I needed to hold in my heart for the month ahead.
Ben has always been a sailor. He and his family spent a number of years on a sailboat, traveling around the Canary Islands and later the Caribbean. He still pilots a research vessel for UNH in Portsmouth, NH. And he knows about ships and harbors.
“There are two really hard things about living on a boat,” he said. The first is mooring. “You arrive at a new place. You don’t know the harbor, you don’t know the rules, you don’t know the protocol, you’re not familiar with the moorings.”
But even harder is the un-mooring.
“There’s so much to do before you leave port,” he explained. “I gotta do this, I gotta do that, I gotta dump this, I gotta pick up that…. The list is endless. It’s really daunting.”
So daunting, he said, that soon come the excuses for staying: “It’s not so bad here. Maybe we should stay a little longer.”
And so many folks never leave.
We were silent a moment. Once again, just when things seem really really hard, someone crosses our path and tells us exactly what we need to hear to take the next step.
It is uncanny. It is surprising.
It is a gift. No, more than that.
As my friend Melinda LaBarge would say, “It’s an effin’ miracle!”
Quietly, I said, “Ben, thank you.”
This morning we awaken to yet another thunderstorm, a wet and cloudy day. We find it hard to get out of bed, but finally we do. We create a flurry of posts on Facebook and Craigslist: Canoe for sale, hot tub for sale, kiln for sale. Cat and dogs? Nah. Just kidding.
We take a deep breath and plot out our day. The thunderstorm cools the air somewhat. A good time for me to split stuff the barn attic into two piles, “keep” and “let go”.
I find myself thinking about what we’ll leave for the new family that will live in this beautiful house. The antique flag. The original brass house keys. Maybe the wooden doll house?
I’ll be sure to tell them where the pets are buried, behind the garage in the back yard. Rex, beloved collie of the family before us. Leia and Puffy, our hamsters. Gus and Max, our elderly cats. Mavra, the sweetest rat in the world. Various injured beasties that came into our care for a short while, as we gave them a safe place to die in peace.
I am so thankful for the years we’ve had in this town, in this house, in this safe harbor.
I am so thankful another family will fill the rooms with laughter, and tears, and joy.
I am so thankful for the miracle of a few well-chosen words, at just the right time.
And as I work, I calm the frantic thoughts and the powerful beating of my heart. I say over and over to myself….
A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for….