Where the Heart Resides

By Rose Ann Sinay

I “skinnyed” my way through the stacked boxes populating our new home, looking for an uncluttered space to take a deep breath. This house had served as our get-away cabin for the past four years. It was fully furnished (flea-market style), and stocked with food and clothes enough to get us by for a week or two every couple months. Now, my Shangri-la was filled with a maze of brown cardboard containers piled three high and four deep in every direction.

This was step one of our plan to move north – to family. Who knew one day our kids would migrate back to their beginnings? In my mind, I imagined Sunday dinners at our (future) house for our adult kids and grandchildren – Norman Rockwell, move over. The dream, to be a part of our granddaughters’ lives (up close and personal) was the catalyst for this major upheaval. And, while FaceTime is a wondrous invention for keeping in touch, it leaves your arms empty when you want a hug from the toddler whose snotty little nose moves in on the camera screen to give you a blurry kiss goodbye.

I had a plan, or so I thought. When we accepted the offer on our house, I started packing – leisurely – there was plenty of time. The first boxes were filled and labeled with their contents and room designation. Furniture and bags of “stuff” were donated. Purging was hard, but I thought I had that emotional attachment under control as I reduced our belongings with a ruthlessness I didn’t know I had. Since another move was in the foreseeable future, many of these labeled boxes could stay stored – unopened – until we reached our final destination, whether it be six months or six years. That was the idea.

By the time the moving truck arrived, my plan had lost direction. My “ruthless” culling had not been ruthless enough. The mountain of items identified as “maybe(s)” had been thrown into unmarked boxes and loaded with the others.

As I stared at the overwhelming number of boxes, I realized I wasn’t sure what was inside each one. Somewhere, in one of these rooms (now, solid cubes of cardboard partitions) were my favorite kitchen utensils (don’t need them, but I prefer them), my perfumes (I want them) and my sweaters that haven’t been used in years (desperately needed). Locating these items without unpacking all the boxes seemed an impossibility.

Hoping to be consoled, I headed downstairs to see how my husband was faring with his workshop. Misery loves company. We could commiserate over a cup of coffee or maybe a Bloody Mary.

I wasn’t prepared for the transformation of his space. Hand tools were neatly affixed to a wooden board ready and waiting. I had expected an avalanche of his possessions as overwhelming as my towers of boxes, but new shelves lined the walls providing places for his endless cans of oil, paint and stain. Newly constructed cabinets housed his power tools.

“It looks great,” I said begrudgingly, feeling as inadequate as a hand full of thumbs.

“How’s it going up there?” he asked motioning upstairs with a wrench in his hand.

“Slow,” I admitted. “We have no room – another trip to the Salvation Army.”

He grunted in affirmation, and I retreated back into my maze.

It had begun to snow while I stood coveting my husband’s organization. The walls of windows on both sides of the stone fireplace were lacey curtains of white. The flakes were dense and beginning to accumulate. Originally from Connecticut, we had cursed the seasons of shoveling frozen precipitation. Now, I found myself excited about our first real snowfall in twelve years. I shivered both from the cold and the anticipation.

A fire in the fireplace – that’s what I needed to get myself going. A new house, first snowfall, a new attitude, I could do this. I pushed the offending boxes out of the way making a small clearing in the living room. I piled some crinkled newspaper and slivers of kindling on the iron grates and struck a match. The flame caught; the licks of fire became tall and bright. It was exactly what I needed. A moment of peace settled over me. So, it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, but then, nothing worth doing ever was. I just had to keep moving forward.

Feeling positive, I added a log to the fire. The beautiful flame sputtered, smothered by the weight. Instead of a roaring fire, smoke billowed into the room. I added more paper producing a thick cloud that filled the room. I opened the doors – cold air poured inside while hazy puffs set off the alarm that summoned my husband upstairs.

“What happened,” he coughed, bumping into a cardboard column. The top box fell to the floor. Amongst the scattered contents were my favorite spatulas alongside, candles, lampshades and coasters – obviously one of the later boxes thrown together.“I say we call it a day,” I said frantically waving magazines over my head as my husband adjusted the damper in the fireplace. When the smoke finally cleared, I turned the heat up, made two mugs of hot coffee, and plugged in a string of Christmas lights that had been in the toppled box. I sprayed the room with an ocean breeze scented aerosol.

I missed my house. I missed my friends. I missed North Carolina.

***

It’s been a month. The emotional storm has passed. A few boxes linger in the corners – they’re a reminder that one day (soon?) we will make our final move. I still have not found my perfume, and today I must locate the sweater box in the basement.

This time next week I will be in Connecticut, building blocks with Mila on Christmas morning and reading books to Addie in Massachusetts that evening. I will FaceTime my friends in North Carolina to wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The stars are re-aligning. My heart is full; life is good.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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10 Responses to “Where the Heart Resides”

  1. Colleen Wenthen says:

    So excited for you guys! So many emotions come through in this piece. Enjoy the kids and the snow 😉. We miss you!

  2. Erika Hoffman says:

    Wow! You’re brave. I don’t know if I could do it. Many of my pals have relocated to be near their children and grandchildren, and I understand that. Yet, …inertia sets in. Very relatable story!

  3. Pearle Potter says:

    Such a beautiful story. Rose Ann I love to read your stories. I could picture the boxes, vision the snow and luckily could not smell the smoke LOL, You write beautifully !!

  4. Mary An Miller says:

    You did it again, my friend! Feel like I’m there with you, my fingers wrapped around a warm mug of coffee and some baked sweet contributed by one of us. Miss the familiar chit chat about family , friends, and plans (or the lack thereof) for the day. Can certainly sympathize with your dismay at the mountain of packing boxes and the futility of “where do I even begin?”. But I applaud yours and Terry’s bravery on embarking on this journey (times two, lol!). So worth it! And we can have coffee tomorrow morning again, on the phone, reminiscing and sharing our adventures. Looking forward to your future adventures.

  5. Britt Sinay says:

    Great story. YOu express it better than most of us

  6. Sandy Forde says:

    I loved your story but now I am really sad since I realize you are talked about moving from your Virginia house. I looked forward to visiting you there. Oh well I am sorry this should not be about me . I am so happy for you and your second new home looks just perfect.
    We must talk soon so I can hear all about
    It. We miss you

  7. Linda O'Connell says:

    This story was so moving, no pun intended. If my great grand babies were not so close, I would be living at a beach. I love those snotty hugs.

  8. Tammy Rohlf says:

    I must say I had a good laugh while reading about your move. You captured the anxiety, dread and yes the excitement that I feel every time I move.
    Your stories never fail to move me. Another great read!

  9. Great description of the joys of moving. Our last move was from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, and my husband says, “Never again.” But downsizing is starting to sound appealing … to me. Enjoy your nearby family!

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