These Mornings

"We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were." -Joan Didion 


It’s 6am and I’m on my second cup of coffee as I lay here in our rumpled bed, the worn flannel sheets soft against my legs, Tessie’s furry body upside down beside me. There is a fire going in the wood stove downstairs. It wards off the chill of these spring nights that still dip down to freezing. But as I look out the window at this familiar view, I can see fat buds on the horse chestnut tree outside our bedroom, some of them already bursting open and unfurling tiny, fragile leaves that will grow to be enormous in the coming weeks.

This is the last spring that we’ll spend in this house. The last time I will watch this sleeping tree that has marked my seasons for the last six years awaken to new life as I gaze out the window at the morning light. I have a tendency to hold on too tightly to such things, to feel my heart squeeze at the thought of leaving a place I’ve called home. I'm excited about our decision, at our plans to shake up our life and chase down some long-held dreams. But like all worthwhile dreams, these come at a cost, and one of those costs is forfeiting a home I’ve loved, a community I’ve loved. These mornings of quiet reflection and writing in this bed in this home after Justin leaves for work are numbered now, and while their end isn’t yet imminent, I can’t help but notice it looming. It would be so easy to slip into melancholic angst-iness about it, but I think instead I’ll focus on soaking in the details, noticing carefully all the ways in which this place has imprinted itself onto my memory, my heart. 

Right in this moment, the morning sun is cutting across the branches outside our window. It’s reaching its long fingers from the east, casting soft grapefruit-colored first rays and charcoal shadows along stretched lines through each limb.  It catches in the bits of smoke furling from our neighbor’s chimney and the smoke acts like a magic window exposing the shape of each beam of light as it passes through.

It’s not always the case that we know that we’re looking upon something for the last time, that we have the luxury of a long goodbye like this. I’m grateful for the knowing, for the chance to pay special attention to these small details that I will carry forward into life with me. Because these really are the things we both grip too tightly and lose, aren’t they? We take for granted that we’ll always know just exactly how our sweet dog smells when we bury our face into her fluffy fur when we snuggle her, but smell is a slippery thing to hold onto in the long run and someday, when she’s no longer beside me to remind me, the sharpness of that sense will dull and dim alongside so many other tiny bits and pieces. Joan Didion once wrote, “We forget all too soon things we thought we could never forget.” How true these words are. We forget just what the air felt like on our wedding day, or the exact timber of a lost loved one’s voice. But then someone in a crowd walks by and the smell of their perfume takes you with startling clarity right back to Mrs. Fox’s second grade classroom on the day she taught Haley’s Comet and for a moment you are seven years old again and your knees are shaky with the vividness of it.

I want to remember for all my life what these quiet mornings felt like in this little home we love so much, these mundane hours when I crawled back into bed with coffee and our dog and my writing tools to let free the words inside my head. Remember how much I love this unremarkable view and watched the seasons shape this single horse chestnut tree outside our window, how lovely the morning light was from this vantage point, particularly in these months when the trees are more bare than full.

We have big plans, Justin and I, and they are thrilling and wonderful plans. Plans that, once realized, will come with a million and one of their own moments like this that I’ll want to notice in intimate detail and log into the bank of memories that form the construct of my life. But right now, we’ve come to find real contentment in so much of our days and it’s simply worth noting, worth remembering.