A few months ago, when I was describing the upcoming move to a new friend, he said “So you have a chance at a fresh start!”
I bridled, initially, because I associate “fresh start” with running away from something. It’s probably from movies or novels, the heroine escaping from the bad guys, assuming a new name, starting a new life as a new person. Like in Sleeping with the Enemy, where her survival depended on getting out as fast as she could. I did escape once, though not in circumstances as dire as those. A van jam-packed with everything I could fit in, the kids buckled, sleepy but frightened, into their seats, a midnight drive out of arm’s reach. A new start followed, a new life, but not anonymity. This life, the one I’m packing up now.
I don’t see this the same way, and it’s probably just semantics. I’m still tearing everything down, I’m still shedding the old life. I’m escaping a place that I don’t want to be anymore for the hope of a new life.
But this time, the new life is not a blurry unknown. The new life has been framed for me by my husband. He forged the path to our new city, he’s established the footprint on which we will build our future. It reminds me of the men who went West to stake a claim, then sent for a bride when the time was ready. I’m packing up the wagon and headed West to set up a tidy little cabin on the shore of Silver Lake. This excites me, the prospect of being in the car with only the items required for a week worth of travel, seeing the country unfold, opening up a whole new world of experiences for the two of us.
But here’s my favorite part; because so much of our stuff was thrift-shop or hand-me-down-acquired, we are leaving 80 percent of it behind. When I get out to Portland, we are purchasing–new!–items with which we will feather our nest. Because I am a frugal person, I’ll still find things at thrift shops, and Portland is rife with eclectic resale establishments, so I’m going to have a good time shopping for “new” stuff. But this time, I shop only for me and Tim. I’m no longer shopping to furnish kids’ rooms, or outfit kids for school. This is just me and Tim. My imagination runs wild at the thought of what I can do when I don’t have to consider the practicality of caring for children into our physical environment. I don’t have to think about whether the couch will be sturdy enough to endure a beating from the kids. I don’t have to think about whether the kitchen table will be easy to clean if markers or crayons run astray of the page. I don’t have to think about whether the items on the shelves will be educational or child appropriate. This is just our space, the two of us, a reflection of who we are now.
There will be plenty of memories represented on those shelves. I’m too sentimental a person–and Tim’s even worse–to avoid that. Pictures of the kids will adorn every wall, their fourth-grade art projects and Boy Scout camp offerings will meld with the new aesthetic. But the heart of our space will be US. And I don’t know what that looks like yet, because our lives have always been–happily, joyfully–about kids. We just flipped the entire marriage experience, and are doing it all backwards. Kids came first, now that part is done, and now we’re newlyweds.
While we are not escaping a terrifying past, we are, in fact, starting over. This is a fresh start, a clean beginning that we never got to have before. From the upcoming adapted honeymoon forward, our life gets a fresh coat of personality, a reflection of who Tim and I are as a couple.
I really–honest to God–can’t wait.