Saturday, March 17, 2012

Toward That Golden Place End of the Rainbow

by Zinta Aistars

Reality is sinking in. Only six days left until I move to the wonderful little red farmhouse on ten acres I've come to call Z Acres. It's time to do some serious packing. I've been collecting boxes in the garage for a couple of months now, most of them kindly set aside for my use by colleagues in my office from office supply deliveries.

I haul the empty boxes inside and set them in rows, open and ready. In it all goes. Books, books and more books ... I realize I really should sort through some of these and set aside a few boxes to take to the used book store. There are definite advantages to now having nearly 2,000 books stored on my two e-readers; they are much easier to pack and move!

Dishes, glasses, kitchen utensils, clothes, coats, shoes. At the end of the afternoon, I'm out of boxes, and my living room  is stacked with a respectable mountain of now filled and closed boxes, ready to be moved. Oh, those wonderful friends and family members who will help me with this chore!

Six days.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and I sip a Guinness as I work. My old chow pup Guinnez follows me around the house in befuddlement, watching me pack. He sniffs at a t-shirt I use to wrap around a vase to keep it from breaking. He pokes at an open box with his graying muzzle. What's going on?

I've taken him to walk the farm several times now. He was with me the very first time I saw it, on a sunny December Sunday, as we walked up and down the dirt road where the farm is located, peering at it through the trees. It was hardly visible from the road, but that was the first good sign. I had longed for such a secluded place ... could this be that place? Could this be Home? The last time I would ever have to move again?

It was. It is. And now I count the days, the hours. Soon.

I think about how different our walks will be there than they are here, in my suburban neighborhood south of Kalamazoo. No dirt roads here. Houses in neat rows with manicured lawns, bright street lights, paved sidewalks. Soon, we will be walking cornfield rows and long dirt roads past horse ranches and tilled fields, watching crops come up over summer months ahead. There will be no street lights. Our evening walks will be by star and moonlight alone.

Boxes packed, I sip the last of the Guinness, letting the creamy foam dribble into my mouth from the bottom of the glass. I sit outside on my back deck, watching the night settle in. Last summer this deck got refinished. New lounge chairs under a sun umbrella, a coffee table and fire pit make it a comfortable spot I have enjoyed many times. And it's not just the deck ... over the past few years, I've invested a lot into making this house special.

Will I miss this house? Not really. And since I will still be its owner, now as a landlord, I won't be letting it go. I take a certain comfort in that. But years of memories swirl past my mind's eye as I consider the part of my life spent here. Too many of them were not good ones. The past few years, however, changed that trend. Renovations erased the past, added my own signature, and I can honestly say now I feel a great fondness for the place. I've done a lot of growing here. And the place has grown on me.

But I'm ready. I'm ready and eager to cross a threshold into a new life. Packing my things here, I am thinking about unpacking them again there. Each thing in its place. With each thing, book, knick knack, dish, vase, shirt, chair, shelf, pillow, I will lay my claim and make it mine, suited just for me. I will make it Home.

And the farm will make something new of me. As we add something of ourselves to places where we spend time, such places inevitably change us, too. I feel it already when I visit. My very heart seems to expand inside my chest when I turn into the long driveway that winds through the pines. I breathe easier. Nature heals me, and here there is so much of it ... woods, pond, streams, acres that stretch to the horizon. I hear birdsong and rustle of nearby animals. I feel connected and somehow whole again.

I'm not Irish, but on this St. Patrick's Day, I am feeling particularly lucky ... downright blessed. Work of many years, a lifetime, is coming to the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. No, not gold as in money. Gold as in a long-held dream come true. I can't wait to unpack my future.

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