Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Beginning's End

Yesterday, in a few surreal minutes around a banker's table, we completed the sale of our former home. There is no going back. After weeks of packing, procrastinating, and moving in stages, we left the ranks of the homeowners with a few simple signatures and committed ourselves absolutely to a new direction, whatever it may be. As this year draws to a close, an era of our life does also. We now have the punctuation in our equilibrium (rest in peace Stephan Jay Gould) that we have been craving.

All those ominous words make it seem like a big deal (which it is) when it actually felt strangely anticlimactic. We were a little excited while waiting in the lobby, and after it was over there was numb shock, but during? The weird fact is that the legally and officially important part of a home sale is not the emotionally interesting part. The search, the dreams, the plans, the weeks of loan processing during which you hope that nothing comes up to make the deal fall through, the move (!!), and the years of your life that you spend making the payments--those stages hold the drama. The defining and binding moment is a few signatures, paper shuffling, a check or two, and handshakes all round. If you're lucky they give you a mug (I still have the one I got when I bought the cottage we just sold).

Many of the big events of our lives happen just this way, like marriage and parenthood. After months of thrilling anticipation, it takes only moments to pronounce vows or achieve conception, but a lifetime to carry through on the commitment. There's a strange inversely proportional relationship here that almost amuses me. Acting in a play or completing a marathon take much longer to do, but neither is a guaranteed life changer. Some of the biggest shifts in life announce themselves officially with a whisper, not a bang. Well, maybe a public service announcement in the middle of a fireworks show.

After our brief and solemn rites of property passage, we returned to the glamorous job of clearing the last things out of the house and cleaning. When all was done, I took a glance down the hall and said goodbye to my now former home--and suddenly felt teary. What a surprise! I was ready to go, but even appropriate partings are a little sad. I want my son to grow up, too, but that necessitates a few tears on occasion, as well.

It's comforting to me that we pass this important milestone under a blue moon, or the second full moon in a calendar month (I only recently found this definition after a lifetime of hearing folks say "Once in a blue moon."), and a special one at that. A blue moon at the new year occurs only every nineteen years. I'll take all the confirmation I can get in this transitional time.

And transitioning we still are. We've made it from the beginning of the end to the end of the beginning. Now starts a new life in which we must decide our heading and sort out the devilish details. How fitting for it to fall at the turning of the year, when thoughts naturally examine what has been accomplished and what might still be achieved. If we're lucky, we've half a lifetime left to chase the promise and keep it.

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