One week from today, I will pay people to take all of my shit out of my sister's house, put it on a truck, and do the whole thing in reverse on the other end.
Two years ago - 25 months ago, in fact - I moved in with my sister Pat, intending to stay there for two years. It turned into two years and one month, and the arrangement has had its ups and downs. Ups in the form getting my financial house in order, finding the industry I hope to retire from, and food. My sister can cook, y'all! And downs in the form of not having personal private space - I think this probably holds true for both of us - and learning what I do and don't want in a home. (Hint: I don't want to have a yard to mow, or a driveway to shovel.) We both had the best of intentions when we agreed on this arrangement, but fish start to smell after a few days. I've been smelling up my sister's house for two years, and it's time to move on.
I feel ready. I've made the wisest decision I can, under the circumstances, and I'm moving back to a place that feels like home to me. I am returning to the place where I built a life from the bottom up, where I hit rock bottom and learned I could bounce.
And so I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks packing my meager possessions into boxes, getting ready for a week from today. As I've packed, I've found myself weirdly nostalgic. This isn't the first time I've left home, but it's the first time I've left my sister's home.
There were ways we got on each other's nerves, for sure. But there were other ways in which we bolstered one another. Balanced one another. After two years, it feels like I'm nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. But the truth is, the tunnel was a nice place.
It was warm, and it smelled great. It gave me my own bathroom, and my own bedroom, painted in a color that still gives me joy. It was filled with conversations and laughter, and sometimes tears. My sister and I both cry when we need to be heard, need to be understood ... and sometimes that makes it hard to communicate. But we kept trying. We worked hard for common ground, and I think that's one of the most beautiful outcomes of our little two-year experiment.
And so when I look back, it's with much gratitude. It isn't everyone who would take someone in for the long term. Sure, I tried to give back with sweat equity and grocery money, but I know there were sacrifices on Pat's part. Hell, even just being able to pee with the door open is a luxury she's mostly been denied since August 25, 2012.
I don't know what else to say, but I have to say thank you to Pat. Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for letting me pick the paint colors for your bedroom, and thank you for loving them when we were done. Thank you for letting me hang art. For the chili, the barbecue, the pizza, the beef stew, the farro salad and the weekly roasted chicken, perfect for lunches. For the cable and Internet and a place to park my car away from the elements. For the mornings when I overslept but not too much, because you always made sure my rear was in gear. For our similar but different Christmas trees and for our own personal Thanksgiving dinner, a tradition I look forward to continuing.
For giving me space to figure things out, but not taking over for me. For that time, and that other time, when I screwed up so royally with my finances, I darn near panicked ... and you were a gentle voice of reason. (And for laughing with me when I dug myself out. With help.) For finding "our thing" (re-releases of movies, in case you were wondering) and for sharing my love of theaters equipped with recliners.
For being there when I wept over losing my most loyal friend, Benld. For that, a lot.
For all the times when I was less than you needed, and you let it go. For all the times when I was way more than you needed, and you let that go, too. For giving me two years plus one month plus four days to grow my own wings.
And for letting me fly.
Thank you, Pat. It isn't enough, but it's the best I can do.