Departure Lounges

I sit in my living room, bare but for furniture now that the paintings and photographs and souvenir knick-knacks have been packed and stored. In St. Croix, people sell their homes with the furniture, especially if they're statesiders planning to leave.

I'm not leaving just yet, but I wanted to lighten up. I thought it would be easier to sell than to worry constantly about maintaining and renting my home when I'm gone. Lord knows what has gone on when my back is turned. I've had tenants arrested for possession of cocaine (in my house?), tenants who have complained about salt on the floor (it's called sea breeze, folks), tenants who just picked up and moved out while I was on the other side of the world.

Boxes and suitcases now line my hallway. The food remains in the refrigerator awaiting the cleaning lady to clear out. In the hour remaining before workmen arrive to install a patio door, I sit - maybe for the last time - on my much-adored and very uncomfortable sofa from Bali.

I'm torn between feeling relieved and feeling nostalgic. I'm relieved because I won't have to pay the ridiculously high home owners' fee again or repair another salt-corroded faucet. But every Super Bowl party I've given, every tete-a-tete with a friend, every word written on that sagging chair - they've been haunting me over the last weeks. 

And as I embrace and relish the memories, a sweet sadness comes over me. I remember a meeting of a sister-group I started in this room, attended by my friend Lucia who died three weeks ago. And I remember one party that turned into a dance party, the DJ another good friend who moved to Baton Rouge when the oil refinery shut down. Life has moved them out and away.

Maybe this is what moving is about, releasing the memories and the ghosts with fondness and gratitude. I used to call this house my sunny little cave. It's about to become my sunny little memory.