We spent part of today packing some boxes and got most of the living room and dining room packed, leaving out only the things we need for the next few weeks – littering the now bare bookshelf with keys and sunglasses and a few cds and video games, plus all the remote controls and all the controllers for the Wii. We left the artwork on the walls as that stuff will most likely get moved by car but those two rooms are very bare now with just traces of the hours that we’ve spent there.
We’re having friends over for a barbeque tomorrow evening and so I retreated after dinner to the kitchen so I could do some prep for tomorrow’s dinner and as I stood at the kitchen counter, chopping broccoli for the salad I realized that this was more than likely the last time I’d be in the kitchen the night before company were expected, happily slicing and dicing and chopping and mixing as I planned and prepared the meal I had mapped out. I’ve spent so many hours in this kitchen doing these very things, in all different seasons and through out all the years we’ve lived here. I remember first moving into the house and being less than impressed with most everything about the house, from the lack of light to the 70s retro cabinetry and the cheap carpet and flooring. I gradually got used to its flaws and the longer we stayed, the more we added to the house so that it became our home – and one thing that our home has never lacked is the company of friends and family, the sounds of their voices and their laughter.
I couldn’t possibly begin to count the number of gatherings we’ve had, big parties where people filled the entire first floor and occasionally leaked up into the second with guests staying the night, passed out on the sofas and the carpet and smaller parties, with one or two couples where we’d sit around the dinner table, working our way through dinner and dessert and bottle after bottle of wine. There have been intimate holiday meals with just Tay and myself, loud, boisterous ones that included Renu and her family, and a memorable Thanksgiving that prequelled a night of poker and included so many of our friends crowded around the table that I realized family comes in the oddest forms. Most people that come through our door have eaten at our table at least once, if not more, and many of them have eaten here so often that they have their own seats and know their way around our kitchen as if it’s their own.
I mentioned to Tay this afternoon as we packed our things that it’s a little bit sad, our moving – it’s the end of an era, our life in this worn down house on ‘Hoo Street’, but as I stood in the kitchen tonight, painstakingly folding whipping cream into the sauce to make a strawberry mousse filling for the french vanilla cake I’m baking tomorrow, I realize it’s not the house that makes our home a home, but it’s the family and the friends, and their laughter that they bring and the food that I joyously prepare for any of them that come through that door is part of it. These are the things that can’t be packed in a box and brought to our new house, but they will follow us – and I can’t wait to meet them there.
But for now, there are dishes drying on the counter next to the sink, and the dishwasher is making it’s oddly comforting clicking sound as it counts down to when it will start later in the night while we’re sleeping. The house is quiet as Tay sleeps in the room above me and I feel that contented Martha-Stewart feeling of satisfied exhaustion that comes from the planning and preparation of a dinner party, even if it’s just a barbeque for your closest friends. And in the fridge? Brie and hot pepper chardonnay jelly to accompany miniature toast (Mine and Jackie’s latest obsession). Homemade spinach dip and pumpernickel bread. Hamburgers for the grill with parsley seasoned buns and roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and garlic. Broccoli salad with bacon, pecans and cheddar cheese and peaches and cream corn on the cob, with lots of butter and salt, of course. And for dessert, French Vanilla cake with strawberry mousse filling, butter cream frosting and a garnish of assorted fresh berries.