Into a new house.
A bigger house.
A house not far from this one.
A house one mile away and yet it's on the other side of town. Because our town is small like that.
To prepare to move all 7 of us and our stuff feels ... intense. I don't really know where to start. The last time we moved it was 1999 and there were 4 Sikorskis. Now there's 7 of us. So? I just dive in; a cabinet here, a closet there.
Packing reminds me of our first move. 25 years ago - newlyweds who had no job prospects but an awful lot of that sappy love which makes you think you can conquer the world - loaded up a U-Haul trailer. The smallest trailer you could rent, just long enough for a full size bed, hitched up to our 2 door Chevy cavalier. I drove everything we owned across 3 states. Our first apartment was sparce but it was ours and I remember I loved it.
Thinking about our first place - and preparing to leave this one - has me nostalgic. Something I don't usually afford myself as the day to day survival & running of this tribe leaves little room for memory conjuring.
In this house we have the markings on the wall where we documented the boys growth. In this house, on the wall just outside our room, it reads "Mom and Dad" because one of our little tykes wrote it there in blue ball point pen (but no one ever confessed they did it to this day).
Today, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, walking past the markings on the wall lovingly running my fingers over the text, I decide to tackle my closet. I have 2 rods in my closet - well 3 if you count the space for the twins clothes. (Which by the way is a huge perk to the new house. I won't have MY closet in the girls bedroom). One rod, the main rod is my clothes; my work clothes, my play clothes, my regularly worn apparel.
The 2nd rod - the one off to the left -held my professional clothes. Tucked in the back, and rarely accessed I stored my suits, jackets, skirts, blazers and ... the white linen suit I wore to my high school graduation snuggled up next to the little sundress I wore from our wedding reception to the hotel. It also held the first suit I ever bought (a deep, wool, purple 2 piece) and a gorgeous hot pink Liz Claiborne dress - a gift from my husband on our 1st anniversary get-a-way which included a shopping trip to an outlet mall. It was the first designer name label I owned.
Beginning 25 years ago, and even up until 7 years ago, I wore suits regularly. I spoke publicly, I traveled to conferences and dressed my best every Sunday as to play the part of adoring, yet capable pastor's wife. I needed those clothes then. And now it's been years - years! - since I've worn any of them.
As I pulled them out of the closet today one by one, I lovingly remembered where I wore it, or when I wore it.
I know that was another time ago; in my head, but in my heart - well each article of clothing held a story - a memory. Pulling the suits out, shaking the dust from the sleeves of the shoulder padded laden jackets, and setting them in the donate pile was painful.
Giving away my periwinkle pantsuit feels like giving away the memory of church services I loved. A black velour calf length dress (hello1992) felt like betraying every banquet or wedding reception I ever attended. And don't even get me started on the pleather skirt and matching zip up jacket my mom bought me when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, you know just to cheer me up.
I sat and looked at the mound of clothes I had pulled out, scattered there on the floor and I felt an overwhelming sadness.
My husband who's been after me for years to clear out my closet wrapped me in his arms and whispered "I'm proud of you".
And then together we drove every suit, blazer and dress to the thrift shop. I'm sitting here wondering if anyone will buy those outdated threads all the while trying to make my head agree with what my heart knows: stuff and things aren't the memories.
My memories are not gone. I know because I can feel them in my chest as I write this and yet getting rid of those old clothes felt like giving away a part of my life. And I like my life. Every day back then, every service, every event, every speaking engagment formed me into who I am today. I am me today because of who I was then. I believe that whole heartedly - and yet my heart ... hurts.
I guess what I learned today, over a shed tear, is that letting go of a suit, doesn't mean letting part of me go. It just means I'm moving on.
And anyway, my new closet will have more space now. I'm hoping that in this second half of my life, the new house and new closet will (literally and figuratively) have room for new memories and create space for new stories.
So tonight, as my closet is clean and my reflections ample, I imagine I've done a good thing.
My stuff might be gone, but the stories remain. Stories are gloriously transcendent that way.