Sunday, July 12, 2015

Small House, Big Suitcase

"Are they moving closer to one another? Or further away?" She asked.
"That is a haunting question," he replied.

There is no way to ever experience everything we want to do in this life. There is a cap on our experiences. In deciding what is important, what fills us, what we want to risk, we have to make decisions about how we want to live our lives. What is worth gaining and what is worth losing and what is better left untouched? Where do we channel our energy and when do we rest? How do we spend our money and what gets saved? And, ultimately, how do we spend the precious moments of our lives?

As a child, my mom would pack my siblings and I into our van drive us nine hours from Maryland to Massachusetts every summer. We would arrive at a small beach cottage in Duxbury, MA. It was a space that held decades of memories for our family, memories that were being built long before us. The rocky beaches, the sandy steps, the loft with the splintered and thick wooden latter, and the sound of the ocean. This cottage held an energy that lives in my bones and is released every time we pulled into the gravel driveway.

Family was the centered of those trips to Duxbury, but family always meant something broad and vast for us growing up. Family was who you loved, who you shared meals with, who you laughed and cried in the arms of. Holidays and vacations were filled with family, people, that we loved. People that knew us and shared spaces together. Not because we were related necessarily, but because we loved each other too much to not share those spaces with one another.

As years passed, that cottage became something of a refuge for us, and for others. We flocked there to relax and reflect and to enjoy the sun and sand. The love felt amongst and between souls in that space is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else in my life. The door was always unlocked, everyone was always welcomed, and even the messiest life situation was accepted and embraced on that sandy back deck. Long walks down to the jetty meant real conversations and honest hearts revealed. Travels to the Powder Point Bridge meant discussions that cradled our deepest fears.

This cottage, this beach, these people and memories are rooted in me so deeply that I cannot help but know this place nurtured important truths I now know about myself. Marian, a beautiful family friend and neighbor to us, was one of my favorite people to be around at the cottage. A fierce Irish woman, not unfamiliar to adversity, has a soul I have always been pulled towards. Unique in her views of partnership and relationships, I would watch her and her partner, Dave, and often wonder how two people could love one another so deeply, yet never get married (or even move in together). Their partnership was a beautiful balance of everything they protected about their individual lives and everything they desperately wanted to share with one another. Untraditional in every way, yet so simple and beautiful to watch.

Marian loved to travel. She was a woman on the move. I remember gazing at her many souvenirs in her small house in Plymouth, wondering what it felt like to go to these magical places around the world. The tiny, one bedroom home she had made for herself on the first floor of a classic New England duplex, my heart felt rich when I entered this space. Marian, boisterous and bold always, was accused to saying, "Small house, big suitcase. That is the only way I want to live." I remember the first time I heard her say this. I remember knowing in my bones that this would be my driving philosophy in life, even as a child. The restlessness I felt, the need for adventure, the curiosity and wonder that came from being in a completely new place and disrupting my routine- this was what I wanted to chase.

I have started to feel what it is like to feed that restless nature I have with travel and new experiences. Moving from one location to another, traveling solo and with friends, meeting new people, and discovering smaller corners of the world that may go unnoticed. These experiences are energizing for me, they drive a passion and need I have that can't be quieted or tamed by standing still. Staying in one place is exhausting. Moving, that is the state I want to be in constantly.

So as I return to Duxbury this year, I reflect on the legacy this small space holds for my family. It will be the last year we gather in this house, as next year it will no longer be ours. The cottage will be passed on to new owners, new families, and primed for new memories to be built. Heavy hearted, I walk that beach for the last time and stand on that deck knowing a view that was a permanent part of my childhood is now ending.

And then I will pack my suitcase and keep moving.