Happy Friday, Friends
Last Black Friday, the movers arrived even earlier than expected. My nephew, Dane, was sound asleep on the couch. I joked with the packers when I walked them around that Dane should not be packed, but predictably they worked like fiends and did pack every pair of shoes that Sam owned before I knew what happened. I had to unpack a box to find a pair so he could go hiking with our neighbors — what a gift that was that they came and extracted him from the chaos. It always feels odd to watch everything you own get boxed in a matter of hours. We slept in our own beds that night and then they loaded the truck Saturday morning. The gravity of the decision hits hard when you watch an 18-wheeler pull away from your curb. We put the few remaining items (they won’t pack everything — cleaning stuff and alcohol for example) in our cars. Nate was already at my friend Brandi’s house, Sam was with our neighbors and little Will was oddly playing in a basketball tournament.
Before we said our final farewell, Will and I prayed over that house — thanking God for the treasure of memories we made there. Then we got in our cars and drove off, utterly exhausted. I went by and met up with Dub at his coach’s house. It was such a sweet goodbye ending with, “Now, Will, I want to see footage of your first dunk!” That night we all stayed at Brandi’s — she has a basement quite similar to that one we didn’t get. In other words, it’s dreamy.
Before dawn Will and I got in our cars, without the boys and headed for Tennessee. It was pouring down rain, and I was full of dread. I felt like I was going to hydroplane to my death before we ever got out of Fairfax County. So much water on the road! I knew I was in for another looonngg day. But soon it stopped raining, and before too long we thought we were halfway. We stopped at Cracker Barrel and I sat there with my eyes closed almost the whole time. It must have been a mystery to onlookers –I used to be able to drive like a banshee, now my eyes get tired quickly. I needed to rest them while I could.
We got back in our cars optimistic about the second half of the journey. But it wasn’t the second half at all. Instead of it being another 4.5 hours, it was more like another 7.5. It was brutal. But by God’s grace, my eyes were just fine. Despite the traffic and more rain, we made it in time to meet our realtor at our new house where we were doing the pre-closing walk-through. We were supposed to meet her there at five and pushed it back to seven, but it was good to see it even if it was pitch dark. Part of me knew Will would love the house (he’d seen lots and lots of pictures), but part of me was scared there’d be something that would prompt a “Oh, this wasn’t how I pictured it…at all.” Thankfully, Will loved everything about it and there were no surprises.
We spent the night in a hotel and Will went off to his first day of work the next day. The boys had stayed behind to put in one more week of school and close out the trimester. We closed on our house that same day, but since we didn’t have any of our stuff, I went to Costco and bought some new stuff — a little food, some poinsettias. I unloaded what we had crammed into the minivan, and sat on the hearth. I already loved this house. It was empty but sparkling clean. Will and I went out late that evening. Dinner was divine, but we were like zombies, emotionally and physically spent.
We slept at the hotel again and Will went off to work the next morning and I went back to our house and waited for the movers. It had been raining for days, and the ground was completely saturated. The forecast only called for more rain, so we agreed that we’d need to go ahead and have them unload in the downpour. The tractor-trailer could not come up the mountain so they used a “shuttle” and unloaded it all in shifts. By the end of the day, despite good efforts to lay down paper and plastic and moving pads, the house was full of mud, and everything we owned was damp at best. It felt a little overwhelming. When Will came up the mountain that night, he decided he’d just stay at the hotel until I came back with the boys. Who could blame him? The house was a disaster zone, and I was flying back to DC the next morning.
By God’s grace, the one thing I decided to do was make up our bed. I opened more than a few boxes to find our sheets, but it felt good to sit on our bed a few minutes and just relax. We got an email about Sam’s less than stellar behavior at school that day, and maybe we should have reacted differently, but in the grand scheme of things, it struck us as hilarious. The first time we sat on our bed in our new house, in our new state, we laughed our butts off till we were practically sick. Sometimes in stressful situations a good, hard laugh does you unexpected good. My mom called to see how things were going and I could barely talk to her, because I could not manage to stop laughing. When we headed back to the hotel that night, we stopped at the front desk to add a few nights for Will. But they were booked solid. It was only God’s grace that I’d made up our bed because Will needed it after all.
I drove myself to the airport Wednesday morning to fly back for my boys. Other than the questionable behavior at school for Sam, the boys had fared very well with Brandi. Her crew and mine have always gotten along swimmingly and they had partied like a fraternity all week. The next couple of days were a whirlwind. I met friends for coffee and breakfast and lunch. It was one goodbye after another. I told Caitlin goodbye at school on Friday, which felt like the weirdest thing ever, but we were heading to a bonfire sendoff that night and flying out at the crack of dawn the next morning. The bonfire was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given, and ended with some of the sweetest, most tender moments of my life. I was prayed over and hugged and felt so very loved. One little girl from Nate’s class headed out with her family and then came back to hug me goodbye. I can hardly think of that moment with dry eyes.
When we climbed in our car to leave, Sam had melted down completely, hiding his face in my coat and refusing to say farewell. We drove off, the four of us, all aware of how incredibly strange it all was, all aware that this marked the end as fully engaged members of this tight and loving community.
I still had the weird sick feeling in my stomach when we were racing down the runway at dawn. In fact, as we walked to my car in the airport parking lot the pit was still there. The drive up the mountain seemed three times as long. We pulled into the driveway and walked up the steps to the front door to reunite with Will and begin a new life. I opened the door and not unlike Belle’s Beast, I thought, I hope you like it here.
Have there been hard moments this last year? Yes, quite a few. But mostly we’ve all adjusted beautifully and fallen hard for Lookout. Just yesterday, when we were listing ways we are thankful, Dub said he was thankful to live on the Mountain, and his sincerity meant the world to me. Sometimes when I’m out walking I’ll look down at the golf course community in the distance and I’m always met with a new wave of gratitude to not live there. I miss my friends, I miss good ethnic food, but I know we are just where we are supposed to be.
J.I. Packer wrote, “Christian faith means hearing, noting, and doing what God says.” Uprooting has given us lots of opportunities to live out our faith — hearing, noting and doing. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
May we continue to draw near to God in faith — hearing, noting and doing what He says.
Praying the same for all of you.