Today is the last of fifteen moves in fifteen months. Our major house renovation is complete enough (on time, no less) for the strongmen from Big Apple Movers to bring all our furniture back from wherever they have been keeping it. This morning I'll putter around, swiffering the corners a few more times, and then be drowned in heavy packed boxes at noon. By evening, I will be exhausted and dusty. I'll make sure the coffee maker is where I can find it in the morning. I'll put some sheets on the beds. I'll settle the girls down to sleep, then close my eyes in my very own bed.
Back home, where we once again belong.
Last night we barbequed and drank French wine at Bud and Toni's house, just a few blocks away. The kids ran around screaming like ninnies, like little children rather than the suddenly-big girls and boys they have become. We sat for a solid hour at the table and laughed, soaking in the luxury of friendship after a long day of work for Bud and Toni and Sean, and of a massive backyard weed-clean-out for Bill and me. Toni put fresh cucumbers in the water, and we ate corn and tomatoes, savoring the summer food of this part of the world.
We talked about school starting next week, and I didn't even think of the French panic over la rentrée. We talked about whether or not we actually would end up joining the Food Co-op, and I didn't suddenly lose myself in a reverie about the cheese counter at Intermarché. I've been even more in love with our brownstone than I was with La Bastide, and more fascinated by the city streets than gripped with memories of the rosemary bushes and juniper berries on Chemin des Devansaux.
Really, truly, home. Here to stay. Adventure over. The Word-a-day website sent me, via email this morning: "fait accompli: noun. A thing accomplished. A done deal."
At the end of dinner, Bud pulled out Toni's computer to show us their slideshow of photos from their trip to Paris and then to see us in Aups. There were the boys clowning around in front of the Louvre. There were the grey stones of Paris apartment buildings. There was a grainy video Sam took of the whole family walking down a street in the Marais, past a little navy Citroën Deux Chevaux. "I love Paris, I love Paris, I love Paris" Zeke singsonged, as he grinned and danced around, happy as a little American could be.
And there we all were, dying eggs in the kitchen of the Bastide. And there we were, at the egg festival in Tourtour. The kids were playing with Jessica and Gerard's puppy Frieda, and riding on the donkeys, and popping up and down on the trampoline in the bright sunshine on that high plain. It was five months ago, but it felt like a lifetime. It felt as though we were looking at photos we somehow captured from a particularly detailed and lovely dream. I know it was real, that it was the time of our lives. But it feels so far away I'm not quite sure how to live in that part of my brain and this one, too.
The past is past. Can't be there and here at the same time. As we unpack our house, we'll pack away our adventure. You might think I would be sad, but really I am way more than ready to stop moving and settle in deeply. It doesn't feel like loss to let what was go, and to lean forward into what is.
I like beginnings. I love the infinite promise of September. I like settling in, rolling up my sleeves, and laying the groundwork for something new. I don't dwell a lot on what was; when I see an ending on the horizon, I usually like to rush through it as fast as I can, looking for the next fertile field to plant and dream over. My magic words are all about what's next: evolve, build, ask, think, develop, grow.
And then, there is the most magic word of them all: home. I build a nest anywhere I find myself. This year, I became expert at making home out of a few pieces of luggage, a toothbrush, and a sofabed, trusting in the dinnertime bounty of whomever had taken us in. But this is our real home. As we settle in back here, we're going to take it slow, and get it right. We're going to put those little felt circles on the bottoms of our chairs to keep from scratching the floor. We're going to set the rugs in the right places, with just the right pads underneath. We might eat off of paper plates until the dishwasher is hooked up, but I'm going to line up the coffee mugs and cereal bowls just so on their shelves.
The last moving day. Fait accompli. Onward and forward to whatever awaits.