We have been packing boxes and giving away or selling household and personal belongings since September 2015. A 3-week visit to an island off the coast of Vancouver, B.C. last summer led us to having a big ‘Yes!’ to a big move, and this Big Move required thoughtful preparation. Once again, we would be crossing borders, changing latitude, longitude and our relation to sea level.
One week ago, we were in our final 24 hours in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Our 15 year-old son spent the day at his beloved Victoria Robbins School as a ‘guest’. My husband took a measured walk through El Charco, the botanical gardens that witnessed our engagement, our wedding, and countless walks alone and with friends and with the wild things. And I had a dental emergency~ of course.
Our home-exchangers arrived from Canada with their sweet dogs and we spent an hour orienting them to the town, to our favorite butcher and bakers but not the candlestick maker, because their location alongside the casket-makers felt a little macabre for a first visit.
A good night’s sleep had been elusive for weeks, at least for me, and my physical practices were non-existent except for the occasional hour on my treadmill. Moving a household of 3 people and 2 cats is challenging; figuring out what would go into the 2 suitcases we were each allowed, and what would stay behind, kept me up at night. Go on, try it. Let me know how it goes.
In our last weeks in San Miguel, new friendships appeared, some existing ones deepened measurably and a couple that had begun to feel tenuous at best were, simply, let go of. What struck me most profoundly in the leaving process was watching my son and his friends grow ever closer and more physically affectionate with one another. Oh, to be perpetually surrounded by hugging, loving teenagers.
Somewhere along the way I went from cooking 3 meals a day, more or less, to quitting the kitchen. I met up with friends for breakfasts at Lavanda Cafe, and pigged-out at the new Pork Belly (OMG). We also got to experience San Miguel exploding with tourists, in numbers we had never seen, during the extended holiday season. Restaurants ran out of food (ordered spinach on a pizza one night, and it arrived with one large leaf cut up over 8 slices), stores ran out of milk, and most surprising of all the ubiquitous taxis were impossible to hail. We did manage to move our 23 year-old son into his own apartment with ease, and he has assured me he will not starve.
Then Tuesday morning, departure day, arrived. Our doorbell began to ring at 7:00am with the first of our son’s friends. A dozen soon gathered and they all piled onto his bed, listening to their favorite sad songs. Strains of ‘Rivers and Roads’ by the Head and the Heart kept reaching my ears and soon I was sobbing, too.
- Thank you, kiddos, for extending the invitation to cry, for giving me permission to feel into the loss and the leave-taking, and for allowing us to witness the depth of love and affection you have for each other.
The shuttle arrives. Eight pieces of luggage, 2 cats in their carriers, 2 backpacks and 3 humans are loaded on board. We get through the Leon airport smoothly, the cats are great in-flight, and thanks to Global Entry Dallas immigration and customs are a breeze. No one checks the cats, let alone notices them. We are fine with this. Then the long flight to Vancouver, more tears, arriving in foggy rain and again breezing through the checkpoints.
A Dodge van has been left for us, and the hotel is a few minutes away. I only drive in the wrong lane once. Luckily, there was no oncoming traffic, just a few polite honks. The guys go out with their flashlights and a plastic spoon to get dirt for a makeshift litter box. This pleases the furry boys very much and they proceed to fling dirt all over the bathroom floor.
Wednesday we spend in a shopping frenzy before boarding the ferry that will take us from Vancouver to Victoria. It’s a massive, multi-leveled boat, with restaurants and cafes, and we eat at a table that affords us an expansive view of the water.
Oh, the water… It rained down, and it rolled under us. There is nothing like being on the water. I cried again as I sunk into the wide embrace of the rolling sea. Landing, driving, and one more ferry. Landing again, driving to a market, then… home. Home to the pungent scents of forest and sea and wood smoke. Home to the cries of gulls and ravens. Home, with my guys.
I write this on Monday. I feel now like most of my pieces have arrived and I am ready to explore this island. I want to get on a ferry just because I can. I think I have found my writing spot, and Loki, the cat who adopted us in Mexico, thinks my lap makes a marvelous napping place. I have rolled out and used my yoga mat more this past week than I did in the prior 3 months.
What I notice this morning is an internal quivering. Something Big is here, in this place, and I haven’t wanted to touch it too soon. My husband has walked, every day, through the woods, towards the water, and come back rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed. I ventured to the edge of our porch, got on my knees and stuck my face into moss.