Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Skipping Town


We're just about to pull the plug on living in Texas for awhile. Six or more months they tell us. This morning we close on our home, signing it over to the buyers, then Saturday morning we'll load Miss Lily in the minivan and head out.

So just a few things before I also pull the plug on this computer:

We got to meet with our buyers. They've never owned a pool, and wanted to know a bit more about the house, so they came over last Sunday and we went through four pages of riveting stuff, like water heater alarms, insulated pipes over the garage, power flush toilets, etc. Our buyers are somewhere in their early 40's I'd say. They have two boys, 9 and 13, and no dog presently, but one is in the near future.

When given the choice of upstairs bedrooms, nine year old Travis chose my craft room because of all the shelves Cub Sweetheart installed in the closet. He thought they would be great for holding all his toys and legos and stuff. I love knowing that. We have one Little who is nine years old, so I can easily picture Travis in that room. It's a nice picturing.

The thirteen year old is a bit sad to leave his old house. He actually has friends in this neighborhood and won't be changing schools (they live a mile away as the crow flies), but his parents brought him home from the hospital to where he lives now. So he's a bit sentimental about all the memories they're leaving behind. Hopefully the years he spends here, the rest of his childhood, will be filled with happy memories too.

He also asked his parents if anyone had ever died in this house, and CS and I laughed when they told us his concern. You actually have to disclose this on the seller's disclosure, but we told them 'no'. We have to assume they heard there was an older couple living in the house now, and aged us at somewhere near Methuselah. We told them, 'only Lucky - the previous owners' dog, who got run over in the driveway by the owner, because he wasn't actually so lucky'.

The woman told me that when they walked in and she saw the kitchen, her first thought was 'oh my goodness, we can bake SO many Christmas cookies with those counters!'. Love, love, love. I used to bake cookies like crazy, but not so much anymore. This house needs some cookie baking going on.

They plan to tear out all the main floor carpet and put in hardwood, so they won't actually be moving in for a week or so. It'll be beautiful. They also plan to put in an outdoor TV, and a basketball goal over the driveway, and entertain like crazy. We've never been big entertainers, but especially so at this house - just family. This house could use some entertaining.

Today I pack the kitchen, mark the box that holds the coffee pot, two cups for that first morning after we finally move into our new home, a roll of paper towels and toilet paper. This evening we're taking dinner to our son and his little family who moved a few days ago and are still settling into their new place. We'll hug them all goodbye and I already am dreading it. It doesn't matter that we'll be back in late October. For me, reason has little to do with saying goodbye to people you love. Tomorrow we load the van for our 2000 mile trek to northern Idaho, with four stops along the way. Friday will be a blur, but when the movers get all our stuff moved into storage we've got a reservation at a local hotel, and plans are to go have dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, take in a movie, and get a good night's sleep before we drive away Saturday morning. Lily will be camping at her vet's office for the next few days so she doesn't get smushed or lost in the moving process. Lily is not invited to our celebratory evening.

We're going to miss our Texas family so much - I'm just not thinking about that right now. I'm reminding myself that when I'm tired or stressed I tend to be more teary-eyed, and just keep moving. Literally.

When I think about not seeing these sweet faces I love so much, I remember I've got ten faces up there that I hold so dear. We haven't seen them in awhile either, and I know fall and winter will be wonderful. I'm already starting to yearn for baking pumpkin bread, chili, starting to knit a sweater, a little bit of quilting, time spent at the local library in front of the fire, snowy morning walks with Lily, football games where we're all yelling for our different teams, Sunday mornings at church together while we listen to our SIL preach. Life is so full, and I have to hold my hand open, let go of what's already in it for awhile, to hold what's ahead. I know that. Now I just have to do it.

This will be my 33rd or 34th move. With CS it will be #9 in a little over 35 years, and I'd like that average to slow down. I'd like to stay put. That many moves does tend to make a person say goodbye, maybe more easily, than I even should, at least to bricks and mortar and stuff. Faces I know and love is always harder - reason rarely wins over when we're down to that last hug.

Enough mushy stuff and dwelling on the hard that lies ahead. It's time to go sign papers, grab some boxes and tape and finish this thing. I won't be here for a good two weeks, depending on how long it takes to make the trip, unload the van, and get re-settled up north. But I'll be back when life finds its rhythm again. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Leaving Marks and Making Memories


We helped our kids move into their new home yesterday. Brand spanking new, with spotless carpet and unused appliances and bathrooms as clean as they'll ever be, and not a single memory made inside its walls.

All that changed yesterday as we pulled up behind the two moving vans. Rain, mud, little kids excited and underfoot. Tired, stressed parents, a cable guy trying to get the internet and TV hooked up. As we put down plastic and blankets for the movers to begin moving furniture in, I watched beds being put up in rooms, items carried to the back patio, and the garage began to fill up with all the stuff of life that nobody had a clue where it should go.

My jobs were easy. Keep the movers hydrated, keep our DIL encouraged, be another set of hands for Cub Sweetheart as he installed ceiling fans, put together beds, etc. Make sure all bathrooms had toilet paper -  moving day necessity! I helped arrange bedrooms for flow and optimal play space. I got to hang up Jae Beth's little dresses and sweaters and tutus in her closet. I made the bed for our son's mother-in-love, so it would be ready for her when she walked in the door. She had the hardest job of the day - keeping the Littles busy and out of everyone's way as much as possible.

When it was all done, everything was at least under cover, we all plopped into whatever chair we could find, and talked about how it would all be fine in a few weeks, and even better within a few days. By Christmas things would be drastically more settled. Right now the dryer has the wrong plug on it, and needs a new hose. They don't have a refrigerator yet. The place they were renting still needs holes patched, groceries transferred and a final cleaning. Moving day is an event suited to the strength and energy of the young, yet it requires the patience of someone too old to actually move much of anything. I guess in that way we had the perfect scenario.

In the midst of moving, JaeBeth pulled one of her front teeth, found a prescription bottle to keep it safe all day, and made plans for putting it under her pillow. I love that the tooth fairy will come her very first night in their house. (She tells me the going rate is one dollar. I think I used to get a quarter.)

Our DIL showed me where the movers nicked a spot in their beautiful new wood floors, right in front of the door into the office. It'll have to be touched up, but I tended to think that it was the first of many scratches and such, because life leaves marks. As it should. Might as well go ahead and get one from the movers, so it's not so awful when more appear.

We spent a last few minutes reassuring them that the mountain of boxes in the garage would eventually be sorted out. It would all be fine. They'd laugh about it all someday, and their new house is great - perfectly suited for them and just waiting for memories to be made.

As I made the drive home, I spent the entire hour thinking about what a grand journey each of our lives are. Today that little family will wake up for the very first time in their brand new house. They'll figure out breakfast, then they'll start in, sorting out the stuff of their lives. They'll decide how to arrange the living room, and make plans for this room and that. They'll figure out something for dinner and eventually they'll gather for supper around the table off the kitchen. They'll sit on the patio and watch their kids play in their yard, or ride their bikes on their driveway. Tomorrow morning JaeBeth will put on her brand new, special 'first day of school' dress (brown with horses on it I'm told), grab her little backpack, lunchbox and all the bravery she can muster to walk into the classroom. And so it goes.

What a privilege life is! At best we're given 100 years, and most of us don't get that. Even if we do live that long, it likely includes a lot of aches and pains to make it that far. It takes us a good thirty or so years to figure out what we might want to do with this life we're given. Then another thirty to get it done, before we start trying to figure out the next chapter of being instead of doing. Day by day it slides by, often not feeling fast at all, but week by week and month by month, and surely year by year it goes so quickly. Before they know it, our kids will be sending JaeBeth to second grade, and Daniel off to kindergarten. From there on, with no looking back, for most of the day, for most of the week, the kids will be in school all day and no longer underfoot.

We'll go see them all one more time, later this week. We'll bring a meal, go see the progress they've made, hear the plans they've come up with so far, then we'll hug them all goodbye. We move ourselves five days from now, all of our stuff to storage for at least six months, except what we're cramming into the minivan and taking up north. This weekend we'll gather Miss Lily from the kennel where she'll have been kept during our moving day, CS will point the van north and off we'll go, with stops along the way to see family and friends before we pull into Idaho around Labor Day. Ten days of the last of summer, in a car with a dog, listening to audio books, talking about life and plans we have and such, before we pull into our place up north. Ready to start making memories and leaving marks with our PNW family. And so it goes. 

Driving Home

We helped our kids move into their new home yesterday. Brand spanking new, with spotless carpet and unused appliances and bathrooms as clean as they'll ever be, and not a single memory made inside its walls.

All that changed yesterday as we pulled up, behind the two moving vans. Rain, mud, little kids excited and underfoot. Tired, stressed parents, a cable guy trying to get the internet and TV hooked up. As we put down plastic and blankets for the movers to begin moving furniture in, I watched beds being put up in rooms, items were carried to the back patio, and the garage began to fill up with all the stuff of life that nobody had a clue where it should go.

My jobs were easy. Keep the movers hydrated, keep our DIL encouraged, be another set of hands for Cub Sweetheart as he installed ceiling fans, put together beds, etc. Make sure all bathrooms had toilet paper -  moving day necessity! I helped decide how bedrooms should be arranged for flow and optimal play space. I got to hang up Jae Beth's little dresses and sweaters and tutus in her closet. I got to make the bed for our son's mother-in-love, so it would be ready for her when she walked in the door. She had the hardest job of the day - keeping the Littles busy and out of everyone's way as much as possible.

When it was all done, when everything was at least under cover, we all plopped into whatever chair we could find, and talked about how it would all be fine in a few weeks, and even better within a few days time. By Christmas things would be drastically more settled. Right now the dryer has the wrong plug on it, and needs a new hose. They don't have a refrigerator yet. And the old place they were renting still needs holes patched, groceries transferred and a final cleaning. Moving day is an event suited to the young, yet it requires the patience of someone too old to actually move anything.

We spent a last few minutes reassuring them that the mountain of boxes in the garage would eventually be sorted out. It would all be fine. They'd laugh about it all someday, and their new house is great - perfectly suited for them and just waiting for memories to be made.

As I made the hour long drive home, with worship music turned up shockingly loud because nobody else was in the car to ask me to turn it down, I drove by fields of freshly gathered hay, horses taking their last run for the night, a sunset that was gathering for a grand finale. That entire hour I spent just thinking about what a grand privilege each of our lives are. Today that little family will wake up for the very first time in their brand new house. They'll go somewhere to find breakfast, then they'll start in, sorting out the stuff of their lives. They'll decide how to arrange the living room, and make plans for this room and that. They'll figure out something for dinner and eventually they'll gather around the table off the kitchen. They'll sit on the patio and watch their kids play in their yard, or ride their bikes on their driveway. Tomorrow morning JaeBeth will put on her brand new, special 'first day of school' dress, gather her little backpack and lunchbox and walk into the classroom. And so it goes.

What a privilege life is! At best we're given 100 years, and most of us not that. And even if we do live that long, it likely doesn't feel that great to make it that far. And it takes us a good thirty or so to even figure out what we might want to do with this life we're given. Then another thirty to get it done, before we start trying to figure out the next chapter of being instead of doing. Day by day it slides by, often not feeling fast at all, but week by week and month by month and surely year by year it flies by. Before they know it, our kids will be sending JaeBeth to second grade, and Daniel off to kindergarten. For most of the day, for most of the week, the kids will be in school all day and no longer underfoot. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Honey, Do These Pants Make My .....



I'd love to be putting up riveting stuff over here, but the truth is, life isn't riveting right now. Rather, it's relatively mundane, and a bit of a mess.

And a little ADHD. A good thirty years ago I read a book called 'Side-tracked Home Executive - from Pigpen to Paradise' by two sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones. I'd come to realize I was not genetically geared to being a domestic goddess. These two sisters were both slobs, unorganized, with houses full of clutter and good intentions. I'm not sure, but I do believe they were the ones who gave The Fly Lady her start. I read the book, thinking "I'm not THAT bad!", and went out and bought about a gazillion index cards and a big, long box to file them in.

Every day I'd pull the cards for the day, lay them out on the kitchen counter, so I'd know what needed to be done. And I'd deal with my 'zone'. I actually kept that system up for a good amount of time, got my house under control (as much as you can with three little adversaries living under foot), and quit using it. What I learned, more than anything else - more than how to clean a toilet or organize my tupperware (see, riveting stuff!) - was that I am NOT naturally organized. Or disciplined.

Almost anyone who knows me today would disagree. But trust me on this - it's true. I'm actually more of what I call - and this is SO unladylike, but fits - a 'fart in a skillet' (not that I use that word, because 'toot' is so much better.) (If my daughter #1 is reading this, she's dying now.) It just gives too vivid of a mental picture to pass it up. I'm much more apt to start something, dig in, and like a raccoon seeing a shiny pretty, I grab it and take off in a completely different direction.

So I make lists, spreadsheets, carry notebooks and organizers and calendars and have gotten to where I can make order of a pretty big mess. But it still doesn't come naturally to me. And I'll never be a minimalist, like my daughter-in-love thinks I am. I'll just keep culling.

Which brings me - short story long - to last night. I was D.O.N.E. We'd spent hours meeting with the builders of our new home, run errands, done some desk work - which might have included paying a bill I skipped last month - spent a good amount on time on the phone talking to several people who are having a really difficult time right now. I'd cooked and cleaned up dinner. I'd seen the gymnasts win their medals, had on my pajamas and was headed to bed. Because my pajamas are stored hanging up in the closet, I looked over and saw all those pants hanging there, knowing the charity pickup was this morning. It was my best opportunity to cull them. Which would involve trying on every single pair. I hate trying on clothes. Hate, hate, hate.

I took off my pajama bottoms, and pulled on the first pair. Did not fit - too big - hurray! The next pair gobbled in all the wrong places, and required heels. I'm 5'9" tall and 61 years old. I do not wear heels. Ever. The next pair was okay. As I continued trying them on, most of the jeans either gave me muffin top, or bulged in less than stellar places, or the rear sagged, or they were ridiculous skinny jeans that I bought in a moment of insanity, and thank the Lord have never worn.

I know they're the rage, but wearing skinny jeans makes me feel like a fat flamingo. Chubby on the top, oozing out in all the wrong places, and then skinny stick legs on the bottom. Unless I want to wear the current maternity-top fashion trend (thanks, I already spent 27 months wearing those), that's just not going to work for me. I need one pair of jeans that I can wear anytime, anywhere, and not consider shoes. Because I don't care about shoes, pretty much at all.

I eventually put 75% of the slacks, pants, jeans, leggings, workout pants into the giveaway pile. At one point I stood in the closet and considered going into the living room and asking Cub Sweetheart if a pair of pants made my rear look big, but then I turned around and looked for myself. No, they didn't but it was still unattractive. I looked like someone in a nursing home walking away, down the hall, bingo cards in hand. Not wanting to hear his answer was not actually the reason I didn't ask. (He would have been politically correct and assured me they looked fine.) (Never ask your husband this - if they tell you the truth, it's hurtful, and if they lie, it's not helpful.) The real reason was that I'd already told him, an hour before, that I was going to bed. Telling my engineer-genes, naturally organized, disciplined husband that I'd seen a shiny pretty in the closet at 10:30 at night and spent an hour there instead of going to sleep as I'd told him - well, we don't have to confess all our flaws, do we?

I'm not going to go re-buy the Fly Lady's book or the other 'slob-to-organized' book either, but the next time someone tells me how organized I am, and I want to preen in the words for a moment, I'll remember last night when I stood there looking like a fat flamingo and / or bingo lady. I'll keep myself honest and humble, and tell them the truth - not so much. And I won't say anything about 'fart-in-a-skillet' because nice ladies just don't speak such words, organized or not. Some things can be written but still never spoken outloud. Even messy Pam and Peggy know that. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Let's make a deal.....


We're up to our eyebrows in boxes and things out of place and basic mess, actually. But sprinkled in - here and there - have been some sweet moments.

We're watching the Olympics by DVR, and while I'd vote to skip past all the semi-whatevers, Cub Sweetheart is wired to be more thorough than me. So we watch most of them too, and I sit and knit washcloths during most of those. I have my favorite events, can watch just about anything except the shot put. I just cannot get into shot put, especially if it's not a man competing. (No hate messages please, it's just me.)

For fun, every few nights CS looks over and asks, "what are you knitting?" And I say, "another washcloth" and he laughs. I tell him it feels nice to have knitting in my hands but I don't need extra mental challenges right now. Washcloths it is.

I stopped doing late night yoga last night to watch Phelps receive his last gold medal. It felt like watching history unroll before my eyes. I love that he's put his life back together and gotten into a good place again. Who wouldn't love that about anyone? And does anyone / everyone else feel like they should stand up and put their hand over their heart every time they hear our National Anthem? Especially these days? I don't but I do.

(BTW - running argument in our house: Does God Save the Queen sound like a very slow My Country Tis of Thee? CS says no. I say yes.)

Over the past week we've sold a lot of furniture here and there, to quite the assortment of people. Through a variety of websites and apps. OfferUp is adorable - if someone messages me (with notifications turned on) it makes a cash register sound. Very clever.

Apparently everyone needs to feel like they're getting a good deal. No matter what I ask for anything, they want to pay less. The woman who wanted to buy my $50 little black cabinet (used to hold a fish aquarium), offered me $35. I said I'd take $40. She and her husband pulled up, in a big, beautiful (expensive) truck, and we had a nice little chat about them buying tickets to fly to Chicago to go see a pro game this fall. I'm thinking they had the extra $15. We settled on $40.

I've listed items for $300 and been offered under $100. Cash. And they'll come right now. Versus what? A few have asked me to take a check. Uh, no. So it's been interesting.

We listed our large patio set. I could have sold 10 of them. Everyone wanted it, but planned to haul it home in a minivan or smaller. Finally I worked a deal with an adorable guy named Victor. He showed up with a truck bed already filled with construction stuff, took the set all apart, taking great care of the tiles on the top of the table so they would travel well. Strapped the whole thing upside down, to the top of his truck bed cover, and told me - grinning ear to ear - that he was so thrilled with it. He thought it was 'beautiful' and couldn't wait to go home and surprise his wife. He planned to have a BBQ this weekend to celebrate. I loved selling him that patio set!


Then there was the single mom who wanted to buy our kitchen table and chairs. Of all the items in our house I was the most sentimental about it. Not in spite of the dog gnaws around the base, but rather because of them. Elway, (golden retriever #2) (we're from Colorado) chewed the daylights out of the base of it, when he was a puppy. That was the last table our kids sat around for family dinner, and it's traveled with us to a handful of homes. I remember buying it and being so proud to own a table that was solid oak. She put $100 down on it, and then hired her 16 year old lawn guy to bring a trailer and haul it for her. When she showed up to take it, I asked her, "can I ask you a personal question? Are you a single mom?" She smiled and said, "yes." When I tried to give her back part of the money she paid me, she refused to take it. Repeatedly. Told me she was so thrilled to buy it, that it was perfect, and she would send me a picture of it in her home. And asked if she could hug me. I guess God knew I needed a little more to let go of that piece of our family history. I love knowing it's sitting in her kitchen.

Then there was the TV. The big, heavy kind that nobody wants. I tried to give it away. No takers. Finally I went online and posted that I'd pay someone $10 to take it. No takers. It's currently sitting out, by our curb, in the rain, waiting for the trash truck tomorrow. I cannot even stand to watch them pitch it in the back of the truck and smash it tomorrow. It still had a lot of good use in it, just not cool anymore. I can relate to that.

Oh, the armoire. Solid cherry and I don't even know what it weighed. CS said 1000 lbs. It was a monster. We asked $50 for it so someone would think it was good enough to take it out of our upstairs guest room. Sure enough a man came and looked at it. He SAW it. The next night he showed up with ONE other man, to haul it out. There were moments I couldn't even stand to watch. I was convinced it would fly over the upstairs railing and leave a crater in our tile floor below. It did slide down the stairs and hit one of the men in the gut, and it did get stuck halfway down on the first landing, and they had to deadlift it back up the stairs, where they may have mentioned a chainsaw. It took them an hour to get it out of the house. When they finally got it into the truck bed, filling every inch, we gave them back their money, thanked them for getting it out of our upstairs and not trashing our house in the process. I knew if I offered it for free I'd get two women, 5'2" who would show up with their kids, to take it away. Interesting study of people - ask something for it and they think it's worth something and want it. Teenage girls would do well to remember this I think.

Then there was Eddie. Eddie and I communicated through OfferUp. He showed up, the first time, in a small pickup that was wrapped to advertise a vehicle inspection service, to buy our upstairs office set. I ended up giving him all my houseplants. What he wanted them for I'm not sure, but he did. Then he asked, 'what else you have?" We took a tour through the entire house, with me pointing out items and prices. That night he messaged that he wanted to come back the next day and buy more. Sure enough yesterday he pulled up in a catering truck, with a lift. He ended up buying a refrigerator, patio set, a basket of exercise equipment including pilates videos, and went through my Goodwill pile, taking all sorts of stuff. He asked if he could buy my exercise ball. I said no. He asked if he could buy our Littles' bicycles. I said no.

I'm pretty sure Eddie used to watch, as I did, Sanford and Son. I have no idea what he does for a living, but if we all had as much gumption as Eddie did, our nation and economy would be in better shape.

We also had two mothers show up with their sons to haul a sofa out of our upstairs. The boys were in EIGHTH grade. The moms bragged about how strong they were from all the weightlifting they'd done over the summer, to get ready for football. As they started out of the room, to the upstairs landing, our son walked in. Thank God. We appreciated every one of his 220 lbs. At the end the mothers thanked him 'for every weight you ever lifted in your entire life.' I gave him three advil, a bottle of water and hugged his sweat-drenched body.

So tonight the last sofa goes out of here. Everything else in the house is going with us, or staying for the buyers. It's looking pretty empty, but we're okay with that. It took five days to sell everything we needed to get rid of, and it's scattered all over Ft. Worth and Keller, Texas, and I suspect Eddie will be scattering some of it a bit more, from the back of an assortment of trucks or who knows.

I need to get to the bank later today, because I've got a wad of Ben Franklins sitting on the kitchen counter. Who carries one hundred dollar bills? Eddie does, and a lot of other people, apparently. I have always said I don't have a salesman in me. I don't. What I do have is a 'get-er-done' spirit. I'm more than ready to give up the Monty Hall stint, and get back to packing. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Falling off the bike....



We are parts of social and family ecosystems that are rightly structured to keep us from falling but also, more important, to show us how to fall and how to learn from that falling. 
We are not helping our children by always preventing them from what might be necessary falling, because you learn how to recover from falling by falling! It is precisely by falling off the bike many times that you eventually learn what the balance feels like. People who have never allowed themselves to fall are actually off balance, while not realizing it at all. That is why they are so hard to live with. Please think about that for awhile. 

Falling Upward, Richard Rohr  
 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dog Days of August



I get up, go through the routines of the day; some things change, but there are the pillars - eat breakfast, devotions, walk Lily, a bit of desk work, talk on the phone with someone I love, wine-thirty, pull out TV trays and supper with Don, a little bit of TV, and before I know it I'm brushing my teeth and turning down the covers.

August days in Texas do NOT feel like they fly by. Every single day so far this month has hit 100, and today is predicted to be no different. August in Texas feels more like a slow ooze of being covered with a light covering of sweat, clothes sticking to you, and the only way you feel cool is to go outside, then come back in. That first moment when the AC hits you is pure bliss.

There's nothing fast about the way summer in Texas feels, and yet, when I go in Target the aisles are crammed with backpacks, pencils, folders, and all stuff for kids to go back to school or college. How can it already be time? And if I'm feeling that way, how on earth are the kids feeling? (Of note, when I was in elementary school in southeast Texas, there was no AC. Maybe in the principal's office, but surely not the classrooms. That would never happen nowdays!

I was one of those weird kids who always looked forward to going back to school. The yellow bus full of chattering kids, new tennis shoes, a box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener if the budget allowed, and a few new outfits. (Mine were usually from Montgomery Ward.) We girls wore only dresses until I was in high school, when we all immediately switched to bell bottoms. They flared out at the ends in glorious display, and when they wore so thin holes showed up, we took embroidery thread and needle and sewed happy flowers and peace symbols on them. By the time school rolled around (and always after Labor Day!), I was bored silly with staying at home with my brothers, or going to the local pool.

When I got to jr. high we no longer rode the bus; rather we walked. We walked! I don't know a single kid whose parents drove them to school. It was simply unheard of. I can't imagine the mortification of having your parent pull up in front of the school and letting you out in front of all your classmates. Rather, we walked out our front doors, met our best friends somewhere along the route, and continued on to school. After school was the same. There was no clogged carpool lane, but rather front doors bursting open to a wave of all of us being released for 18 hours til we'd all show up, and do it all over again. Homework not necessarily done, but all of us ready to be together for another day.

I loved the rhythm of the days school brought on. When anything else in life might feel amiss, being in school with the bell ringing every 45 minutes to tell me it was time to move somewhere else, there was a big sense of security in that.

Sometimes, if anyone had any money, we'd all walk to the local Burger King, where we'd sip ice cold cokes and eat fries or slurp milkshakes, not caring at all about the calories. We'd make messes and be loud and annoying to anyone else who happened to be there. It was absolutely the best time for flirting! A boy I'd only exchanged glances with, I could now sit a few spaces away from, and we could listen to each other talk to others. And if the relationship had progressed to the point where someone had been given someone else's ring, we'd proudly sport it on our hand, wrapped in yarn so it wouldn't fall off, and we'd snuggle up together in a booth for just a little while. No parents or teachers looking on.

I still remember, in 9th grade, when our entire class body descended on this particular restaurant and stole napkins, a handful at a time, to decorate a float for some parade. White napkins sticking out of chicken wire - I don't even recall what the float looked like, but I do remember pilfering the napkins. God bless the owner of that place for not bolting the door when he saw us all coming his way. The restaurant is still standing and operating, and every time I go back home, and pass by, I mentally apologize to him. But such sweet memories of that place.

So we're nothing about routine right now. We are selling furniture all around us, eating at crazy hours, watching Olympics til midnight and falling into bed exhausted. It's going to be a good month before anything in our life looks routine, but in just another week or so, while we're still in this house, the yellow school bus will pull up two doors down, the kids in jr. high or younger will climb up the steps, and I'll have fun remembering back to those days of 64 crayons, new tennis shoes, homework, cute boys and building sloppy floats out of pilfered napkins.