This time last year, we spent a few weeks in Switzerland saying our goodbyes. We watched the movers pack away nearly four years of our lives into cardboard boxes, and we shut the door on the little gray house for the last time. When I think of all the sweetness and welcome and respite we found within the walls of that home, I want to cry. We had our share of sorrow and chaos and fights there too, but when I think on those years, I see everything held together in a rosy-pink hue.
On our return to the United States, we brought back the boxes stuffed with everything familiar. The bed we’ve slept in for the entire eighteen years of our marriage, a cow bell the size of man’s hand, and a computer filled to overflowing with photographs of our travel adventures. We have the souvenirs tucked into the corners of our home now, but almost everything of note and merit from our Swiss life didn’t sail across the ocean in a cardboard box. The true gems lie hidden away in my memory. When I try to pull these memories out and hold them in the palm of my hand, it’s like trying to grasp a handful of sunshine. I can no longer feel the shape and weight of them, only the residual warmth.
Last night, I cooked the last package of Swiss Rösti from my pantry’s stock. The sound of it popping and spitting in the pan reminded me of all the meals I cooked in my tiny Swiss kitchen, all the times we wished M could join us, all the ways my children grew into themselves sitting across from me at the dining room table. Those years are pink in my mind, handfuls of sunshine I can’t fully grasp. They were unbearably special.
I want to believe I will feel this way about New Jersey too, but when I reflect on this last year of settling in to our new/old life, everything still feels too close, to easy to grasp, to rough and steady and touchable. I don’t know what color these years will be, or what it will feel like to hold them in the future. Perhaps they will always carry a certain weight because these years of parenting older kids, putting down roots, and calling a place my true home, have a destination deeper than my memories. These years take up residence in the very marrow of my bones.
Tell me about your current stage or years. Do they take on a certain shape or color?