Last night, we hosted our final party at our home on Setliff Place. After we decided to sell our house, found a new home, readied our home to go on the market and received an offer - all far more quickly than expected - I told J that I really wanted one last party here. It would have made me sad to leave without a final gathering. I wanted to celebrate previous moments here, mark the occasion of our departure and be surrounded and encouraged by friends as we close this chapter in our lives. After all, one thing I've loved about living here is filling our house with friends and family.
A few weeks ago a good-bye party seemed like a great idea. So I set the date, sent out the evite and carried on with life's daily tasks of packing, teaching, cleaning and cooking. Yesterday morning, the full import of my plan hit me and I sent J the following text while he was out running errands, "Having a party tonight might be my craziest idea ever. How am I going to get this house even somewhat ready for guests?!? Next time, you must save me from myself. ;-)"
Moments later, a friend swung by to pick something up:
"Doing OK?" he asked.
"I think so," I replied somewhat uncertainly. "There's a lot left to do before tonight."
"Are you an extrovert?"
"I didn't think so. It surprised me to see you were having a party this close to moving," he said.
"I know. But some of our best moments in this house have been parties, so I wanted one more to help us say good-bye." I explained.
He nodded and headed off, leaving me to finish cleaning and readying our house one last time.
Sometime later, I was giving B instructions on getting her room clean. "Vacuum your rug and then put the vacuum cleaner back in A's closet." No sooner were the words out of my mouth, than I had the thought, "Won't it be nice to live in a house where the vacuum cleaner doesn't have to go in a bedroom closet?" I'm not sure this thought was entirely my own because it, combined with a lovely dream fulfilled via our party, has helped me re-orient my thinking about our move. The decision to see and dwell on the many blessings that await us will undoubtedly help me get through the next nine days.
And the party? It was all I had hoped for and more. New and old friends mixed, mingled and snacked. Children played inside and out. Conversations ebbed and flowed. Football games were won and lost. Food and drink were shared. Stories were told. Laughter was heard.
One friend who came last night had never been to our home, so I gave her a brief tour. As I did, I described the various renovations to this house over the years. It made me realize that we are leaving it a different home than it started. We are leaving it with a far more functional kitchen, an open flow that aids parties, a master bath that is a true retreat and rooms that were filled with love, laughter and family.
There is much we will miss about these four walls. They have not only sheltered us, but given us the chance to literally put ourselves into them. Our daughters have grown here. None of them even recall ever living anywhere else. Our floors have held sleeping bags crowded with girls, spit up, toys, shoes and crackers crushed underfoot. Each room has been a part of the story of our lives over the last decade. And it is time for a new chapter. A chapter that offers space for teenagers to stretch their wings, room to bring ballet into the home and even a long awaited chance to hang college mementos.
Independent of each other, two friends said to me before departing from the party, "You have the nicest friends." As I lay in bed, recalling the night, these words came back to me. We do have the nicest friends. And they will go with us wherever we live, no matter the house. It was a beautiful reminder of all we've been blessed with and all that awaits us - and that we don't have to do it alone.