LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: The Story of the Hutch

A very useful piece of furniture, this hutch has been with us for 26 years!

A very useful piece of furniture, this hutch has been with us for 26 years!

It’s been less than a week since Cap’n Ben’s words of wisdom on moving. And it’s been a busy one. There’s been a flurry of paperwork. Many listings of our belongings on Craigslist. A yard sale or two, with more in the works.

I’m a collector and a mixed media artist. That means almost every object that crosses my path has “potential”. Possibilities abound. I have drawers of decorative papers and specialty glues, paint in every form you can imagine, beads, fabric, yarn and books. Frames and canvases, paper cutters and miter saws, waxed linen and silk tape.

And I have a thousand containers for all of them. Including….

The hutch.

It’s a beautiful wood hutch, three glass doors up, two drawers in the middle and three wood doors below. Pine stained to cherry. Nicely made, not those clunky ones that always end up in the thrift shops.

We bought it the first year we moved to Keene, 26 years ago. Our daughter Robin was five weeks old when we moved in. In the middle of a heat wave, and us with one window fan. My husband went to work in an air-conditioned office every day, complaining how cold it was. I would lie on the floor in front of the fan, begging the weather gods to please, please, please remove the maddening 95 plus degree heat.

After six months of staring at my craft supplies sitting in boxes, my husband proposed we set up some sort of organizer for them. We ended up down at Winchendon Furniture, in the clearance section of the second floor. We found the hutch and fell in love with it. It adorned our dining room for twelve years, and another fourteen when we moved to Roxbury Street.

Eventually I had a room and then an entire studio for my projects. The art supplies in the hutch made way for our pretty wedding china

Nope, it's not going to California, either. Earthquakes. Remember?

Nope, it’s not going to California, either. Earthquakes. Remember?

, and eventually my McCoy pottery collection.

Now it’s 26 years later. Where did the time go?? The kids are grown and nearly on their own. The house is sold, and here we are, emptying our home of a lifetime of memories, getting on our way to California.

It was strange to see the hutch empty. And though we priced it to sell, it survived three indoor tag sales this spring, and even a yard sale. “Maybe it will go with us to California!” I said hopefully. My husband was pretty sure it wouldn’t.

He was right. Eventually someone saw it on Craigslist, and an email conversation ensued. The woman said her husband loved the hutch, and he would pick it up that day. When he arrived, though he paid us less than we expected. “But we agreed to the price!” I cried. “Let it go”, said Jon. And so I did. But I couldn’t watch it go, and hid in my studio.

Now it wasn’t just an empty hutch I had to look at today–there was a huge empty spot in our living room. And there was the funny gap in the molding surrounding the room we’d completely forgotten about.

Mind the gap!

Mind the gap!

We hope it won’t kill the sale.

Today we received one more email from the hutch’s new family. The dad was chagrined to get home and realize he’d underpaid us. The mom promised to send us a check for the difference. I told her how grateful I was for that little extra to help us on our way.

But the best part of her email was the picture she included….

Their two very young children, already exploring inside the hutch.

Our hutch with its new family.

Our hutch with its new family.


My heart leaped into my throat for a moment–how like my own young ones at that age! And I knew the hutch was truly in its rightful home.

We came to Keene with not too much, and made a life here. I became a mother here, and an artist. We made friends, we made a home, we became a family.

Now that time is finished, and something new begins. Jon will lose his job any day now. The layoffs at his company are massive, and he’s already been told it will be soon. We don’t have a home yet in California. We simply remember the quality of light when we were last there, and how light in heart we felt.

I do not know what lies ahead for us in California. Our friend Julie says when she looks at us, she sees light. I believe her. We are becoming lighter, letting go of what we don’t need to hold onto anymore. We don’t need sweaters in California, nor snow shovels and ice skates. I don’t need my beloved salt-and-pepper collection in a city of earthquakes.

I didn't have THAT many salt-and-pepper shakers....

I didn’t have THAT many salt-and-pepper shakers….

Some days it’s hard to let go of so much. And some days it’s easier.

But through it all, I know this:

The memories are in our hearts. We need very few mementos to keep them bright.

And new memories are waiting to be made, in California.

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