Like many in this city before us, we had to cover up all the holes we made and erase every single speck of dirt we left behind from the unit we occupied before we could truly begin to settle into our new home.
I have moved 18 times in my whole life (I quoted 22 a couple of times recently but this is because some moves count as double) and I have never lingered as long as 3 days after the move out at a place I am leaving behind.
And boy oh boy it was a tough job, refreshing the smallish 2-bedroom apartment we called home for 2 and a half years.
We marked that place as a family of four with every dent, every hole, every stain on every surface. There we slept. There we cooked, we crafted, we worked, we played. We formed and stormed and normed and performed. We grew together inside those walls.
With every hole I covered up, I saw us: Lamplight on a baby girl who laughed and laughed and lifted her legs up and down with my wheels on the bus singing. I saw the boy's fingerprints behind closet doors - DNA evidence of the hide and seek games that were played. I saw all the places we put up a bookshelf or a mirror or a hook, only to take them down again. I ran my fingers one last time over the the gouge made by a birdhouse wrenched from the wall as it was used as a stepping stool over and over again by toddlers who wanted to peek through the kitchen passthrough. The same little birdhouse became home to the chickadees that made a family in our little patio: the little patio we left with chalk and mud on the stucco - more evidence that we were there, that we lived there.
It's no wonder both the boy and the girl protested every proclamation that we were leaving their home behind. Those walls are the only home they can remember.
So we cleaned and we patched restlessly together, the wife and I (and with the help of my father-in-law and blessed friends) while the toddlers restlessly ran around enjoying the echoes that bounced back from the walls of the empty rooms they know they will miss. Together we said our goodbyes and our thanks to that space that is now someone else's home.
After all the moving and cleaning and patching (which by the way, had to be redone by the painter because apparently patching is not one of my strengths. I recognize this now and vow to nevermore waste 10 hours of my life doing this), good riddance.
Moving forward together is a gift I don't intend to waste.