How to Leave a Place You Love
FIRST, PACK your things. Gently and with reverence. Take all the books down from the shelves; dust off all the old trinkets. Rub your fingers over their surfaces, thumb the pages. The candles melted down to the plate. You will discover a chip in the small glass horse that once belonged to your brother and you will hug it to your chest, squeeze the broken ears.
Those you love begin to say goodbye, some every day and some not at all. Go out for the beers, the last meals, the final moments where each of you map the span of a smile, the shape of eyes, the particular sound of a laugh. You each will drink far too much, but no matter as this is the preferred way of things.
Roam the streets of your neighborhood considering the insides of full houses. Peer into windows of dining rooms beautifully lit, so warm, the TVs glowing blue, and an arm around a shoulder on a small couch. A child you don't recognize will play in a front yard. Count their age and your years and calculate the ability of the world to regenerate itself again and again and again. Make a list of all the things you will do when you are in your new place. You will exercise. You will sit under the sun. You will grow things and keep your things clean and organized. You will cook. You won't notice when the child, seeing your approach, runs inside.
Take note of your old house, the flower beds in need of weeding, grass allowed to grow too long. Cross the threshold of the front door, the one your husband re-built last summer when the flood waters washed in, and don't even for a moment consider the dwindling number of occasions on which your foot will pass over that soft wood. The moon hovers its silver path from the oak tree to your roof and the cactus has grown tall over your head. Its trunk is brittle and barked. The fiesta lights someone hung before your time have been chewed through by the squirrels and the wind chime snapped in a storm dangles by one last line. Things broken now will never be fixed.
In agreeing to leave, you have done something irrevocable. You are looked at differently and will be until you go. You wish you could slink away in the middle of the night; you understand now how preferable that is. But you will be corrected of this sentiment should you come home to find a For Rent sign in the yard and two strangers in your empty house. This is mine, you will think. Get out. You, the incredulous ghost. You have forgotten the pace of this process, how the velocity will incrementally increase until you no longer recognize where or who you are.
So, gather everything you own in a designated place and wait for the time to count down. It will feel as if you’ve forgotten something. But, the key rests in your hand and the floors have been swept bare. So sit and wait. You grow impatient; you have always been impatient.
Lisa Bubert is a writer who recently left her home in Texas to reside in Nashville, Tennessee. Her stories and poems have been published in Barnstorm Journal, Typehouse Magazine, and more. She is currently at work on a novel and moonlights as a librarian.