This morning Bella and I took what will probably be our last walk down our usual route to the park. Every week for the past year we’ve gone to the park at least once, sometimes every day. And before she was born, when I was pregnant I used to walk in the park at least three times a week. So today I said goodbye to all the dear houses and gardens we pass on our way to the park.
Oh, we’ll find new routes to walk in our new neighborhood, explore new parks. And we’ll probably even return to this park. (Though not likely in the summertime when only town residents are allowed to park there.) But we won’t be walking the route from this house along those streets, seeing the neighbors we always see and the dogs and the cats and the whole intimate ritual.
I know Bella will get used to the new place, the new routines. She’ll soon forget. But when we go I will leave a part of both of us behind. Bella’s first year will always be joined in my mind with this neighborhood. Together we’ve braved weather in all four seasons. We’ve watched the leaves turn color, fall, bud and spring forth again to new life. We smelled (and picked) the flowers, observed the ebb and flow of the tides and all the many moods of this place, our neighborhood. She took some of her first steps in that park. Picked her first handfuls of grass. Ate her first pebbles. Had her first picnic. Met her first dog and began a love affair with her canine friends that sometimes scares me as she will brave a busy street to get to a waggle-tailed pooch.
I’ve lived in this little white house for seven years, ever since I moved to Massachusetts. I earned my master’s degree here. I received my marriage proposal here. Received my engagement ring here. (Though I was supposed to receive it at the chapel.) Had my bridal shower here. And got married from here, sleeping for the last night as a single woman with my sister here to help me put on the white gown and to put on my makeup and to do my hair. I had my wedding night here. I took my first pregnancy test here (on Labor Day weekend.) I discovered I was pregnant here. I had my baby shower here. My water broke here. And all the memories of Isabella’s first year of life are here, the sleepless nights, the happy days. All the firsts: the first time she rolled over, the first time she sat up, the first steps, the first words. I discovered I was pregnant again and lost that baby here. I was diagnosed with cancer here. I learned I was cancer free here. My blog started here and all the friends I’ve met online were met here. Here I read their words of encouragement, of joy and of commiseration.
I painted these walls, even helped choose most of the colors. I drove so many of the nails that made so many of the holes that stare at me now. I will miss this house. I will miss the neighbors and friends we have made through living here. And perhaps one day we will bring Isabella back to this place and point and try to tell her about it and she won’t remember and won’t really understand why it means so much to us.