I’m sitting in a room at the Cabot Lodge in Tallahassee, Florida looking like I’m doing nothing but sitting at my computer playing around while my husband naps. Not our typical way of spending the day, but then it’s not a typical day—nor has it been a typical last two weeks.
For almost four years we’ve been executing a slow and generally pleasant relocation of our lives from a South Georgia tiny-town bungalow to city life in the center ofHouston, the city where we raised our family and that we consider home. But we still had our Georgiaroots (however shallow) in the form of that bungalow, long for sale on the slow, slow market. Finally, a family has discovered they love it as much as we did when we first walked in twenty-five years ago. They are moving in next week. So you know what we’ve been doing. Packing, lifting, cleaning—and making big decisions.
Our Houston house isn’t tiny, but it’s nowhere near as big as the wandering bungalow. It makes no sense to pack up possessions and store them when our children have declined them and we know we won’t need them again. We’re having an estate sale—that is Diane, the local antique dealer is having an estate sale; we’ve been told to stay away. We’ve cut to the bone. I’m selling things I never thought of letting go. I’m selling my wedding dress! And the one my mother wore at the wedding. (Diane assures me that the two are not antiques, merely ‘vintage.’)
No surprise, the hardest decisions were the books. I’ve written about this, so I won’t belabor the point. We’ve culled twice and already moved our dearest ones toHouston. But the house still looked loaded to folks who didn’t know us. Time to do it again. I asked friends, “Please take some.” Rosalind came by for some cook books. David took an antique set of English Literature. Alexander, the 17-year-old I hired to tote boxes out of the attic, turned out to be a book lover, so he left with a sack full. Still, there will be lots of books in the sale.
That’s not to say that there won’t be plenty of books in the back of the U-Haul truck that will roll out on Friday, after we’ve told ourFloridafriends “so long.” These include some that are new to me. How can that be?
About a month before our move those many years ago, my mom died. After my sister and I settled the estate and closed the house we grew up in, I dispatched two moving vans—one to Sis in Oklahoma and one to my new Georgiahome. Mine arrived a couple of days after the van from our old home. When the movers asked me what to do with the boxes of books, I, in a fluster, told them, “Put them in the attic.” You won’t be surprised to learn that I finally got around to unpacking them last week.
I found treasures. My father’s college textbooks. Books my mother had read and reread. I love her practice of dating her underlines and sometimes adding a note. I can sometimes remember what was happening in her life at that time and gain new understanding of her wonderful self. I packed up box after box of these treasures. They’ll find a home not in a box but shining on my bookshelves in Houston. But an especial one is making the trip in the cab of the U-Haul—probably in my lap.
My father grew up in lonely central Texaswhere he dreamed of being a writer, and read every book he could get his hands on. Generally, he borrowed them from understanding neighbors, but occasionally, he didn’t give all the pay he earned cowboying on an adjacent ranch to his mother; he kept back enough to buy a book. I found one! Corporal Cameron of the North West Mounted Police, a lively tale of a young adventure-seeking Scot. My dad’s name is carefully inscribed inside. I can picture him in the shade of a big cedar tree reading and rereading Cameron’s adventure. [My dad did grow up, and he did become a writer. If you’d like to know more about his life on the farm and his own amazing dad, then check out this article he wrote in 1960 for the Saturday Evening Post-- http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2010/07/29/archives/then-and-now/power-music-fiddler-hope-alive-1920s-texas.html ]
I’m looking forward to sharing the lively Corporal’s Canadian adventures as I roll west on I10 heading home toTexas.