Packing Up

cat in the entry

Image and text by Gabrielle

Last week I was confidently telling Ben Blair that packing up would be a snap, and that we’d be able to spend this last week in France relaxing in this gorgeous home. Hah! Today my confidence is less confident. I forget so easily how quickly “stuff” accumulates. Let’s take schoolwork for example. Think of all the schoolwork your child brought home this year. Now times that by 6 kids. Now times that by 2 1/2 school years. That’s a lot of stuff!

So we’re going through the stacks of notebooks and binders, and trying to make wise decisions on what to keep and what we won’t miss. And we’re helping the kids sort through their emotions about saying goodbye to things that might feel precious at the moment, but will be forgotten shortly. Then, figuring out if it’s better to ship the keepers to California, or if we can make room in our allotted luggage without going over airline weight limits. And that’s just the school stuff. : )

Oh man, I can not wait till the packing is done. I am plowing through it as quickly as possible because it’s my least favorite thing.

But it’s not just the packing, I’m quite the basket case this week. Trying to pack. Trying to get my blog work done and my Alt Summit work done (Alt Summit SF is next week!). Desperately trying to be present during these last days before our move.

Honestly, I don’t remember feeling this emotional about a move before. There’s so much in my head, and I want to write about it, but feel like I won’t have time for weeks. I’m craving more hours in the day in the worst way.

Tell me, Friends. Have you had a particularly challenging move? Share your horror stories, and your most beautiful/hopeful moments mid-move. I’m sure I’m not alone!

P.S. — Please forgive me if posts are late this week, or if I can’t respond to comments as quickly as I’d like to. I’m doing my best, I promise. : )

48 thoughts on “Packing Up”

  1. jennifer milton

    Oh looky, first to comment. I have living in New Zealand to thank for the time zone advantage. Moving to N zed, as we say now, was our biggest move (from mid-west, then the south). Our kids were 5,3,1 at the time. We either sold or gave away 1/2 our stuff and packed the rest into a container which took 3 months to arrive. I found it somewhat freeing to purge my old things and though we had a baby still, we had to bring only the bare necessities.

    I remember we were at a conference 2 weeks before getting on the plane to come here. They gave out favours and I gave mine away to friends. Out of my mouth came the statement, “I don’t need this where I’m going.” That has become my mantra when deciding about purchases. What sort of things do I want to be storing up? Treasures on Earth? My real treasures are the people I love and the things that reflect us, or truly enrich our lives by feeding us spiritually, nourishing our creativity or building our minds and bodies…I’m not always successful at maintaining this, but I revisit this adage when cleaning.

    We also had huge earthquakes begin 7 weeks after our arrival and soon our city had crumbled around us. The city is still being re-built. WHAT a crazy time, but through it all, my value of stuff has become readjusted in beneficial ways. Though it was a challenging time, I’d do it all over again because of what we learned.

    All best on your next move, I hope you find sorting and purging freeing!

    Bless, Jennifer

  2. Dear Gabrielle,

    a move to a different flat is strange, to a different city difficult, leaving the country hard but moving to an other continent seems to me amazingly brave!
    So take your time, be sad, be afraid but also be excited about a new life! Everything will be wonderful!
    I wish you a lot of happy last days here in Europe! Enjoy it! Take everything in!

    Love from Germany

    Ps: And stuff is not the important thing… memories of all the years in france and from all your trips are more important than any paper/book/dress…

  3. When I left France after a year I was leaving on a train and had about a million bags and cases and I was SO SAD to be leaving to was silently crying the whole time and then I lost my ticket halfway to my destination and in France you pay a smaller fine if you go find the conductor, so I went to find him. He took one look at my red eyes and very sad face and said it was fine!

  4. I feel for you! Only 22 more days until my husband and I move our 3 kids to England for a year-long sabbatical! I feel like I have been purging/sorting/packing for months with no end in sight! I know it will all get done on-time, but the next 3 weeks will be exhausting!

    Good luck with your packing and your move!

  5. Not only are you packing up your stuff but you are packing up all those memories. Emotionally draining plus add the anxiety about meeting people in your new home city and getting the kids settled. Give yourself a break and stop blogging until after the move. We grown-up women understand:)

  6. Gabrielle, we are packing, too!–preparing to move from Barcelona, where we’ve been for the last ten months–back to California. We have two teenage daughters who’ve been collecting handmade Spanish shoes. We have a nine-year-old who’ll be a breeze to pack, though the autographed “Barce” soccer ball may be tricky. We have my husband, Mr. Efficient. And we have me: wondering, at the moment, how to fit in two beautiful winter coats I bought at a local second-hand store and had repurposed to fit me, with the help of the Miracle Costurera who lives down the street from our flat. I, too, am emotional today and have been for a good week. Yesterday I said goodbye to a lovely friend who brought me a set of small, porcelain oil/vinegar carafes as a gift. They are exquisite. And they have to be packed! I adore Barcelona, but fitting the “recuerdos” into our bags is definitely challenging. While you’re packing up in your corner of Europe, just know there’s another mom packing up her family in Catalunya, Spain. Good luck and two kisses, one for each cheek. xx

  7. Good luck, Gabrielle. You have so much on your plate! I cannot begin to imagine how taxing, both physically, and emotionally, it must be to move continents.

    Thus far, my hardest move was last July. I was around 26 or 27 weeks pregnant with twins, and we had to move to another state for my husband’s job (he is a professor). Luckily, my terrible sickness was finally starting to fade (24 hour nausea is the pits), and the move coincided with my last burst of energy (thank you Universe!). But it was still rough going. On a bright note, it was great to see how well our cat did on the road and staying in a hotel with us for 3 nights while we waited for the moving truck to arrive. A kitty is a hotel is kind of funny!

  8. We packed up and moved from our home of 8 years only a few weeks ago. I was also sure it wouldn’t take long. Then, it soon became clear that we had lots of storage in our house – with lots of stuff in it. So many school pictures and school books, so many clothes. So many books and so many knick-knacks. Two adults and four kids who have so much stuff. And then it turned into the rainiest weekend of the year (I’m not even kidding). All that, and we literally only moved 100 metres up the road! It has been three weeks, and I’m only just recovering. We’ll be moving again in twelve months – the plan is to get rid of the stuff we don’t need before the next move as I never want to have to do that again. Wishing you all the best for a calm last few weeks in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. x

  9. Oh my, I would be overwhelmed to leave such a magical place too. As an adult, I have to be realistic…how many pieces of my own school work have I kept and cherished? My answer, NONE! If there is something special, may I suggest taking a picture of the child holding it, or scanning it and saving a jpg? Perhaps a journal per year per child, and one or two great art pieces. Another thought, ship them back…in America, there is a media rate for books that is extremely inexpensive…could there be something similar in France?
    Best wishes for your busy weeks ahead and safe travels!

  10. Oh, my dear – I so feel your pain. Even though we moved here almost 2o months ago, it still feels like yesterday. I think the overseas moves are some of the hardest. Before moving to France, we had not moved in 10 years so we had accumulated lots of stuff! It is definitely therapeutic to purge and make decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of. As far as emotional, our move to France from NY was definitely hard emotionally – we said goodbye to such wonderful friends and families that we had known for almost 20 years. Our kids too, had friends they didn’t remember ever not knowing.
    I think when you have a family and you plant roots into a place, it makes it harder. When my husband & I were younger (pre-kids) and we knew we would be moving to certain places for job/career advancement I think we were more ready to move. When there is children in the equation it just ads a whole new dimension. Wishing you all the best and I think you can take solace in that fact that you have purchased the cottage and you know you can always return to see friends. Hang in there – when you are on the other side things will return to normal again.

  11. My easiest and most difficult move were one in the same. I was pregnant and on bed rest, needing to pack for my family to move from the Netherlands to the states for two years, and then returning to France after that. Nothing could be stored, so everything had to be either sold/given away or packed. It was overwhelming to say the least, but easy thanks to the kindness of many friends who came and packed various rooms of my house while I sat with my feet up, directing them, feeling helpless to lend a hand and ever so grateful for their generous help all at the same time. On arrival in the states, another group of very kind friends came and unpacked my container while I was at an extended doctor’s appointment. I came home to a completely unpacked house. It was very hard to allow others to help me like that, but I am so grateful they were willing to do it! My husband and kids were really, really thankful as well!
    Wishing you suitcases that close and grace with airline ticketing agents (who, in my experience, sometimes don’t seem to pay attention to the scale when they see an entire family is moving country–bless them!).

  12. Oh, boy! I can’t imagine what you’ve got ahead of you (x6!).
    Our biggest move was SFO to NYC, 2 kids, 1 dog with a month long stay in Berlin before the move. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. We kept some & purged a lot (it is freeing, but I’m a big “memory” person that likes tangible, sentimental things). When we got to NY and unpacked our life, my husband & I often asked each other (and still do on random times), “WHY did we keep this?”
    I think you’ve got great memories in photos & your blog. Advise your kids to take snaps & journal furiously over the next week (maybe Ralph can do a video interview of each sib describing favorite school work, memories, etc?). Good luck! xo

  13. Hang in there, Gabby! I hope you can get it all done and have time to say your proper goodbyes. When we left NY, Camille was 6 weeks old, Ben was working like a maniac to get some work done and no one was old enough to help me pack. I never did get to say goodbye like I wanted to, but c’est la vie, as they say ;) Hopefully you can get it all sorted out. Sending a prayer, and some packing efficiency your way!

  14. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    Oh Sweet Gabrielle,
    Just be a mess. It’s ok.

    My hardest move came when we had just adopted our daughter. She was six months old. After 8 years of waiting I finally got to decorate a nursery. We were busy living our life. Then the house across the street came on the market. A Spanish-style house (rare for MN) that is on our historic registry. Within two days we decided to buy the house and sell our house to friends. I had to start packing right away. I would sit in the nursery and cry because I was so sad to leave it. Plus it was our first house. I was super excited about the new house but I am one sentimental girl. I had to look at our old house all of the time. I even pulled into the driveway by mistake a bunch of times. It took me almost a year not to feel sad. 10 years have gone by and if I am over at our friend’s and I’m sitting in the living room across the fireplace I still get sentimental.

  15. I hate packing! My family moved a lot when I was growing up and that dread is a hold over from those many, many moves. As an adult I’m very happy to have lived in the same house for 18 years! :) But I still drag my feet when it comes to packing for a trip. Oh well, at least I’m really good at it now :)
    Good luck with your packing! Oh and try scanning the kids art work and school papers and saving it to a thumb drive? That’s what I’ve done with my kids old stuff.

  16. I do understand, Gabby. You’ve had such a marvelous French Experience. And then it ends!
    This is what I wrote at the end of our 3 year mission in the Baltics: Riga, 1996:

    As we entered the Brivibas office for the last time, we stopped and took our shoes off. This was the custom for all of us whenever we entered the office or any apartment. This time we felt we were taking them off because we were to stand for the last time in a holy place. We listened to echoes from the past—the voices and faces of the Morettis, Lovelesses and Woolleys, our office teammates who so graciously filled the rooms with the melody and love of their devoted service. We remembered many sounds: hammers slamming, walls falling, music blasting, Russians singing, member and missionaries ascending the stairs. We remembered the sounds a voices of over 200 Elders and Sisters, each a precious friend. We remembered their struggles and pains along with their joys and successes. And we remembered the members, their agonies and exstasies So many tears! So many prayers! So many misunderstood translations! So many songs! So much laughter, So much love! So many changes! So many memories tucked into that space–the headquarters of it all. It was all quiet now, though outside sirens were screaming and car alarms whining. We wanted to embrace everything and everyone. We wanted to hold each moment and never let it go. But it was time to move on. We held the clean, sturdy rail as we descended the stairs to Brivibus Iela, Freedom Boulevard.

  17. I can think of two challenging moves. Moving to England when I was 6 months pregnant with our first baby (visas took longer than anticipated). I was so emotional, leaving a job I had worked hard to get, leaving family behind, having a baby so far from home. Four years and two kids later, it was so hard to leave England. Packing up was a chore, but leaving a place which had become home was emotionally tough. You’ve done a great job of documenting everyday life in France. Best wishes for your next adventure!

  18. Don’t worry about your blog, we’ll still be here to read when you have a chance to post. :) Good luck with the packing. I always found it a good time to purge and remember.

  19. When we were leaving the Air Force and leaving Italy to go back home to the states my oldest just turned two and I was a couple months pregnant with my son. My husband got sick and ended up in the hospital the day of my daughter’s birthday party and our stuff was going to be packed up that week. He said, “Just leave my stuff (clothes and things) and we’ll just take it with us” but he had more than he realized and I was not skilled enough in the moving to realize I should have just sorted what I thought he’d need. So we had to ship a lot of boxes home, and they took a long time to even get there. It was kind of a mad rush to get it all done and we kept having house inspections but not everything was gone… finally my husband got out of the hospital and we got it all done, but it was kind of nuts.

  20. Please give yourself some time off this week, Gabrielle! You deserve it and need it. We’ll miss you, but we’ll just be that much happier when you’re back. :)

  21. I think that, if you’re living fully, that every move is hard. Really hard. The physical part is excruciating , but the goodbyes are the hardest.

    Wherever we lived, my mom immersed us, as you do, in that place. We read every book about it; we visited every possible museum and tourist spot; we ate at the local places; we shopped at the independent shops. We were a small family, so we made new extended family every time we moved.

    I’ve met women who said that it didn’t matter where they lived – they just went to the playground and grocery store anyway. Ugh. And I’ve met women who deliberately didn’t make friends in their town, because they were planning to move and didn’t want to make those ties. Can you imagine?

    The heartbreak of leaving, the loneliness in a new place, and the overwhelming task of facing your possessions – I guess they’re the price you pay for the richness of having lots of emotional homes.

  22. We recently moved from our first and my little (TINY) dream of a home. Moving from this place was made more difficult in that I was only 8 weeks pregnant at the time, super sick, super hormonal and for some weird reason super depressed. I was working full time, raising a toddler, pregant and trying to move (in with friends for a month until our new home was done). For some reason moving has been the most difficult thing I have done as an adult – marriage, babies, jobs – no big deal…moving is a whole other conversation. We are finally getting settled into our new home home and I am feeling great – I agree – it is difficult, and hard and sad to move. Just take comfort that you are not alone in feeling this way and it is all part of the journey – life’s big adventures :)

  23. I moved last August and it dragging out to be a several month affair. Before we signed the lease our new landlord told us that if we were willing to give him five days at the beginning of August, he would rip out the terrible disgusting carpet in the bedrooms and refinish the hardwood floors underneath. We eagerly agreed. We stored the bulkiest of our stuff in our new basement storage unit, and waited patiently. After five days we started painting the walls (we got a rent discount and got to pick our own colors if we did it our selves).

    Two days into that I fell while skateboarding and sprained everything from the tips of my fingers to my elbow in my right wrist. I couldn’t paint, I couldn’t even dress myself! My parents had to come help me clean and paint and settle in. After six weeks my wrist was better and I finally started putting up artwork and decorating. Longest move ever.

  24. We are moving this summer from Washington state to Wisconsin. Hubby’s been gone since April (although he comes back every other weekend for 2 days.) Three kids – 3, 7 and 9; now home from school full time. I’m weary from two months of mostly single parenting, stressed about the move (movers are trying to change the dates!,) have never been in the house we are moving into (only seen the listing pics) and am terribly sad to be leaving my friends here.

    All that said, my kids are being fantastic (most of the time,) we are treasuring our last play dates with friends, and spending lots of time at the neighborhood pool. And we have an epic family road trip to look forward too (6 national parks / monuments to visit!) And the company is paying for the movers to pack us, so I’m not purging a darn thing. Moves are stressful however you slice it!

  25. Oh, yes. We moved Portland to San Diego and I cried from Portland nearly until the state line. It was a truly (not unexpected!) emotional move.

  26. My heart goes out to you, Gabrielle! Packing for any move is drudgery, but packing to leave France must be even harder. Best of luck!

  27. I definitely feel for you! We moved in Feb and it was so taxing physically and emotionally. I’ve dealt with what seemed like endless numbers of boxes but I’m still homesick for Paris.

  28. Moving is hard and I find it gets harder as my children get older because they are able to express their emotions. You have to just do your best t o stay focused and just get it done! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and do whatever you can to lessen whatever you can; ie eating out. Enlist your older kids to help with the younger kids! Take a deep breathe it always gets done in the end!

  29. Gabrielle, you are not just moving an entire household you are moving your heart. I so admire the way that you and your family have jumped in whole hearted to France. I bet that you have made life long friendships there and certainly life long memories. This is bound to be a tough transition. Hugs to you!

  30. Our last move was from Atlanta to Seattle. The movers we hired (through a middleman) flaked, leaving us to make new arrangements at the last minute. While staying with family friends (with five daughters) for two days before our plane left, our daughter’s head started itching. First and only case of head lice. Another child developed a horrible cough and we were trying to fill prescriptions on the way to the airport. Oh, and I was pregnant with #4, experiencing my usual preterm labor and trying my hardest to “take it easy.”

    It was intense.

  31. Oh… and the hopeful moment?

    When we got to the airport, we got one first class upgrade. I sat up in first class while my husband sat in coach with our three young kids.

    And it was a red-eye. :)

  32. Oh moving! How I strongly dislike thee! Our family has moved a lot! Our biggest move was from New York to Oregon and we road tripped it. With a two year old. It was really fun though and it’s a memory we’ll always have so I am really glad we did it. That was two years ago and we’ve moved three times since then, the most recent being just last month. This one has been particularly hard because of the circumstances surrounding the move. My husband’s brother, (a paraplegic) was living with us, but he passed away and we couldn’t afford to stay where we were without him, so we moved. Plus, we didn’t need a wheelchair accessible unit anymore, although interestingly our new place is wheelchair accessible just by chance. I think being drained emotionally before the move even happened made this one particularly hard. That, and the fact that the kitchen has half the storage space our last one did (which wasn’t much), and I have no where to store my pantry items (they’re currently sitting in boxes under the counter overhang).

    But, there is hope! (Sorry for being such a downer). Just the other night at bedtime, my daughter (who is now four) reminded me that I don’t have to miss Uncle Brenty (my husband’s brother) because he’s in our hearts with God and we can always have him near. I cried. Out of the mouths of babes right?

    I’m excited to see more pictures of your new house in Oakland and I hope your move goes well!

  33. Oh, moving is the worst. My husband and I have moved 9 times in the last 4 years. (10 if you count the time we moved into a house, found exposed/disturbed asbestos the next day, and promptly reloaded the truck and scrambled to find another place to rent.) I always think that the next move will be easier, and it never is. That could easily have been me saying that packing would be a snap, and probably will be when we move again in December. :)

    This, too, shall pass. Best wishes for a smooth transition!

  34. Ahh, I definitely feel for you! I am in the midst of my craziest move yet right now (though likely not as crazy as yours!). We were living in Columbia TC student housing last year and are now moving to DC. It wouldn’t be that complicated if it weren’t for the fact that our stuff is spread all over the United States (with most in storage in Oklahoma) and there is a 5 week gap between the end if one lease and start of another. Oh, and I’m 3 mos pregnant! Between doctor’s appts in different cities, visiting family, and getting all our stuff to one place, it has certainly been a coordination nightmare, but it will be over soon! We are driving a U-Haul cross-country this weekend, and I can’t wait to drive up to our new place!

  35. Oh man, I feel your pain. Our family of 5 did a cross country move with three weeks notice. We put our house on the market, packed up everything, and left for the West and it was insane. Today our house still hasn’t sold, so it hasn’t ended as well as we hoped. However, our decision was to keep us all together (better for my mental health!), rather than have me and the kids wait it out till the house sold. If I could do it all again, I would still have put the house on the market, but rather than move an entire household of goods across the country, I would have sold it all and started fresh. I would have gotten rid of everything, including the cars, and put my family on a plane. Way better than spending a week driving a van and a moving truck 3,000 miles. I’m still scarred by that experience. Good luck!

  36. Our upcoming move within the next few weeks should be relatively easy – we’re only moving two floors up in our current apartment building – however the lead up to it has bee the most stressful move we’ve ever gone through. And my family has done some pretty big moves around the world in our time…
    The lead up to our move started back in March when the management of our building advised that our rent would be increasing substantially with our lease renewal in August. We didn’t want to pay so much more and gave notice to move out in August. We then spent the next few months going to open houses every single weekend. We applied for 7 houses/apartments and, despite our good references and credit rating, got knocked back 7 times. Ah, the joys of being foreigners with kids in a university town! I was pregnant at the time and the increasing stress of house hunting was starting to impact on my health. After some bad news at my 20 week scan my doctor put me on bed rest thus bringing our house hunt to an abrupt halt. After all the stress we figured we’d just give in and pay more to stay in our current apartment. No such luck – the management had already rented it out! Back to the house hunt. A few weeks later I was back on bed rest again and the house hunting came to an end. Unfortunately so too did my pregnancy at 24 weeks :( Add on top of all this stress the fact that our US visas expire at the exact same time as our current lease and things were starting to look dire. We were running out of time to house hunt as renewing our visas required a week long trip abroad to visit a consulate.
    Luckily another (smaller but more expensive) apartment in our building became available and the building management gave us first dibs on it. We’d finally found a new place! Things were finally starting to look up. Until…
    On the eve of our visa renewal trip to Canada the Calgary floods hit and the consulate we were due to visit was closed for over two weeks. Now while packing up our apartment we’re waiting for a new appointment within the next few weeks. Given the run of bad luck we’ve been having I just know that the new visa appointment will fall during the one week window we have to move!
    Fingers crossed things will go smoothly from now on – and I hope that your move goes well too!

  37. Two years ago we moved to Gallup, NM from beautiful Utah. I grew up in Albuquerque so it wasn’t the New Mexico part of the move that scared me, it was the Gallup part. All you ever hear about this place is that it’s a hole. And, well, it is. It’s just an awful, awful place. Shortly after moving here my wallet was stolen out of my purse at Walmart; my car was involved in a hit and run; our house was broken into (on Valentine’s Day, no less) and all of our electronics were stolen. I hated it here from the day we moved in…it didn’t help that we also moved here on my birthday.

    But also, it’s one of the best places in the world. The people here astound me. My friends have become my family. The day our house was broken into, somebody anonymously put $500 on our doorstep. My husband has real, true friends for the first time in our 12 year marriage. My kids run through the dirt and sand and don’t think twice about not having grass. There’s no traffic, no pollution, and the sunsets are the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Moving is hard, but there are beautiful things about every move too. Good luck!

  38. As you are leaving France I am entering. We’ll be two weeks in Bordeaux. We are house swapping. So for a month prior to taking off for our first stop to visit one of our three daughters in Madrid – we were scrubbing nooks and crannies, packing piles o’paper and purging…lots and lots of purging. But – the great thing is I’m going to absolutely love my home when we head back to the States at the end of the month!

  39. Here’s what we always say about moving:
    The first 90% takes 90% of your time. The last 10% takes another 90% of your time.
    I hope the last 10% – whether it is dealing with stuff, errands, cleaning or saying goodbye to friends – is not as painful as it always is for us!

  40. Packing up after such an adventure is so bittersweet. After living in Zurich, Switzerland for a year we had to pack all of our belongings in our suitcases. We managed to save some of the special school projects and papers, a few books or keepsakes, and also important clothes. The rest we left behind. We carefully weighed each bag to it’s allotted 22 kgs and then I travelled with our 3 children (by MYSELF!) and our 8 bags. It was quite an experience trying to catch our connection in Chicago after arriving late and wheeling our bags through customs with a crying 4 yr old and very sleepy jet-lagged kids. But we did it and collapsed in relief on the last flight to our home in St Paul. I was so grateful for the security personnel who took one look at our weary group and made a special point to rush us through and run us to the connecting flight – calling ahead so they didn’t leave. Sometimes the good of others really shines through. Best of luck and happy travels.

  41. Pingback: Thoughtful words that warm your heart | inomhus

  42. Our worst move actually occurred this time last year. We are military and we were moving from one part of our state to another part of the state. It should have been a very simple move. Unfortunately everything that could go wrong did go wrong. From losing our paperwork in the government sea of lost paperwork (resulting in a three week delay in our actual move dates) to having a driver with no common sense (he kept insisting our belongings would not fit in the 18 wheeler) to problems with finances and everything in between. I would have never believed that our move four years earlier from one state in the south to another state in the north would be so complicated. Oh and did I mention we homeschool and have a lot of books – so we also were overweight -resulting in monetary charges for us.

  43. I’ve been behind in blogs for a long while, so I’m just now seeing that you moved back to the US…the timing is ironic, because we’re preparing to move in a few weeks from Maine, where we’ve lived the past 6 years, back to North Carolina, where our families are.

    We’ve missed them terribly, and I really am looking forward to being able to see them all again more frequently, but it’s painful to think of leaving this place. I’ve lived in several states but Maine is the first one I have loved – its beauty is so soul-satisfying, from the evergreen and hardwood forest we live in to the pristine lake in our backyard (home to loons, the most exquisite creature on earth), to the stunning rocky coast a few miles down the road with the lobster boats and buoys bobbing on the water, the pine forests and hills coming right to the edge of the rocks to greet them, and the thousands of islands and capes and coves that follow that coast. I love the oldness of everything (no subdivisions!), the history of the lighthouses, the accent of the fishmonger who calls me “deah,” the industriousness of the people as they prepare for winter – and the winters! – oh, how I cherish the stunning beauty of a silent snowfall as it drifts up to the windows, the sweet crunch of it under our feet as we venture out in the midst of the storm, the thrill of exploration only a southerner can know as we snowshoe on top of a frozen lake, the sweet luxury of coming back to a fire and hot chocolate and snuggling under blankets.

    I am so looking forward to being part of our families again, but I’m wondering how I’ll bear the ache I’m sure I’ll feel for this place.

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