Time. It moves. It never stops moving. Its motion does not depend on my consciousness; time moves with or without me. This is why moving gets me bent out of shape and thereby reminds me I’m alive: because there are things like houses, things that will continue standing and changing and existing even when I am no longer a part of them. Moving reminds me that my own life’s moments are finite, but Life is not.
We had a dance party in our almost-empty living room tonight. We blared some Mumford and bounced the kids on our hips and waited for the “big” parts of the song to do spins and jumps. As I danced with Sophie, I told her “Look around. Look at the windows, look at the walls. Try to remember this.” And she looked, but I am not sure if she will remember.
But what do I mean by “this”? Take the kitchen, for instance. Do I want to remember the linoleum floor and the fingerprints on the stainless steel fridge and the view of Rich and Laverne’s house from the window? Or is “this” the memory of splashing flour on across gray counter-tops as I baked Christmas cookies with Cohen for the first time? Is it the hundreds, maybe thousands of dishes I washed while listening to the bath water running in the background as Jacob scrubbed the day’s grime from the kids? Is it the food? The special birthday lasagna roll-ups or the mundane Tuesday night grilled cheeses, or even the awful tasting coconut curry soup I made and cried over because it took hours to prep and we wound up going out for Chinese anyway?
Or the living room. Is the “this” I want to remember the wooden floors and the black and white photos of Cohen and Sophie as toddlers (sorry Ellie) above the TV or the painting of Augustana’s chapel that hung above our couch? Or is “this” the movie nights and hockey games and ninja jumps and naked post-bath hallway running?
After our dance party tonight, the last night in our house, I sat rocking Ellie. I pictured myself rocking (or more realistically bouncing) Cohen in the opposite corner of the room four years ago. And then I pictured the other moms who might have rocked their own children in that very same room. Our house was built in 1955 and has likely seen its share of rocking/bouncing moms and new babies. And I remembered on our first night here, six years ago, the moving boxes still scattered across the floor much like they are now, I told Jacob “It already feels like home.”
Moving wrestles with my heart and makes me cry confusing tears, those tears that are not quite from sadness but not quite from happiness either. “Remember this,” I told Sophie. I am too ethereal to believe the “this” I want to remember is the structure: the walls, the floors, even the sounds and smells. And I am too sensible to believe the “this” that wrecks me is a memory of an experience alone. After all, we are sure to have new and far more memories in the house to come.
Maybe moving pushes my “choke up” button because it reminds me, like most monumental events remind me, that time will move, move, move, and once an era of your life is gone, you can retrieve it only in memories.
But what if you can’t? Sophie probably won’t remember this. Quite honestly, both the ethereal and material memories of this era of life will surely fade for me as well. Thank goodness I believe the weighty significance of a moment is not dependent upon my ability to remember it or even my ability to leave a mark on the world because of it. The moment is significant because it is my own, and I got to live it.
I felt this as I pressed my cheek against Ellie’s cheek and danced tonight in our nearly empty living room. I was truly alive in that moment because I had such a strong sense of how a moment is sacred in spite of its finite nature, and perhaps even because of it.