Here we are, suspended between cities, in midair between all the goodbyes and all the hellos.
I finally managed to get the iPad charged up with sufficient videos and apps to keep E busy in his seat next to me that it dawned on me that I could write a post from here, this moment, this critical turning point. On the way to the airport, I said to my sister that when E is older, he’ll say, “I was born in San Francisco, and when I was two we moved to Chicago…” And this is the day we moved.
The goodbyes really ramped up over the past five days. After seeing people the previous week, we always ended with, “I’ll see you before we go…” and then we started the real goodbyes. Saturday was our Hasta Luego Party in Golden Gate Park with many friends from all phases of life: high school, college, studying abroad, past work, current work, single moms, Labyrinth Moms, the band, past neighbors, school parents, etc. etc. It was a game of “This Is Your Life”- in the best way. Fortunately, people largely took over watching E romping around with his buddies so I could have a moment with each friend. It was foggy but not too cold. I cried, I laughed, but mostly I acknowledged the upcoming change and how much each person has meant to me. It felt so important in terms of my own processing as well as providing a kickoff for newly-long-distance friendships.
I came away feeling the warmth of so much love and also emotionally maxed. I tried to nap with E afterward but my brain was buzzing. We went out for sushi with dear friend L and stayed up drinking wine with her and J. I didn’t sleep well. It felt so monumental. I never second-guessed our decision to leave, just felt the magnitude of it.
On Sunday night, I went out with some of my best college and study abroad friends L and C for bubbly and a fancy dinner in the Mission and felt the bumping energy of the Mission in a new way as it fades from my proximity. We had one of those California dinners where every bite bursts with freshness and impossibly perfect balance. After all these years, it seemed impossible that we wouldn’t be within an hour of each other to easily plan such dinners in the future. No matter where we are, though, we’ll find each other.
Monday was my last morning in the office. I had a moment with my colleagues- our team of three has become two. S gave me the mirkat that we used to hold up over the wall instead of popping up to say something. I ran a couple of errands and rushed home to meet the trailer, which (of course) came at the very tail end of the 12-4pm window, preventing me from taking my car for its last SF checkup. I picked up E and we had a pizza party with neighbors and friends. Saying goodbye to J, a single mom and school parent, was one of the saddest- we saw her and her sparkplug S almost every day. The spontaneous dinners, the weekend playdates, the pickups and drop-offs… We were in the same boat.
After they left, I said to my sister B that we should be done with the remaining packing within an hour or so. It actually took five hours. The stuff just keeps coming at the end…we were done at 1am. The next morning, E and I went through and said goodbye to each room and remembered some good times there. My voice was all wobbly but I pretty much held it together. We said goodbye to our street, to the waterfall and the geese and the buffalo in GG Park, and the fire truck- all on the way to school. The movers came and loaded the trailer in two hours. I had time to run a couple of last errands with my dear friend K and go for a walk through the Presidio, breathing in the cold fog that I know I will eventually miss, the smell of eucalyptus, the obscured view of the Golden Gate Bridge..
After K left, the apartment was empty minus my luggage. I swept each room tearfully, remembering when I first moved in, just days before getting pregnant with E. I remembered bringing him home from the hospital, the weeks and months with Mimi and Chacha. It was the perfect apartment at the perfect time.
The mover said they would pick up the trailer the next day, a day for which I did not have permits, so, after several panicky phone calls, I realized I was powerless there and left hoping they’d get it that night (they did!). The car shipper said that he’d get the car the next day instead of the planned day after. I’m pretty sure the piano mover showed up on the wrong day too but that could have been my mistake. There are always curveballs when moving… and we rolled with it. But just as I was saying how everything had gone perfectly, I crunched my bumper into a parked car in front of me while pulling out of my hood for the last time- just heightened emotions and distraction but, man, it’s a big dent. That further rattled me on the way out.
Friend and neighbor L had offered to drive us to Palo Alto to my sister’s so she could bring my car back for the car shipper the next day. She was the angel who helped me get the place and she was a critical help on the way out (and everything in between). She was with me for the bumper crunch and to pick up E at his school. Every single teacher cried while saying goodbye. The kids painted a tree made of hands that said “We Love You, E.” I saw another dear friend M and her daughter L at pickup who’d been on vacation- and the tears kept rolling. I really had a pit in my stomach at this point. I’m taking E away from so many known good things.
Pulling away from the school, my GPS app took me past the gray, murky ocean and through some hilly, foggy neighborhoods I’ve never seen before on the way to 280, which turned out to be Colma, a totally random way to leave. A few minutes later, we emerged from the cloud into the golden afternoon California sunlight of the peninsula. L stayed for a bit at my sister’s, then said goodbye and drove away in my dented car. E immediately said, “Where’s L going?” and I said, “She’s going home.” To our former home. I had handed her all my remaining keys.
We had burritos with B and J and went to bed early. Today, we kicked a ball and blew bubbles in the park. Of course, it’s hardest to leave my sister. Definitely reassuring that she encouraged me to make this move even before I was thinking about it and is also in a happy new relationship in a sweet little house and a growing business… After ten years in the same city, though, this will be an adjustment. And I hate taking E so far away from her.
We drove to the airport in tears, making plans. When E was saying goodbye, he said, “See you tonight!” He asked if we were going home. He really gets a lot of this- he knows that the boxes and the disappearing furniture signify something big. And he always knew we’d be going on an airplane to Chicago to see his cousins. I don’t think he understands the goodbyes..
I feel good now- relieved that all the packing and planning is over and all of our worldly possessions are on three different trucks. I’m grateful that the goodbyes were hard because that means we had a good time. I’m a little scared. Excited to set up a new home minus a lot of junk. Ready to hit the ground running (after some rest as we camp at my sister D’s while our stuff is in transit).
We did it. Most of all, I hope this move brings the awesome upgrades that I think it will. The weight of the decision is so much heavier since it is a critical turning point in E’s life too.
Here’s to our next chapter- may it be as sweet as what came before it.