It’s Time to Move On

It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going
– Tom Petty

Well, that’s finished.

The house we lived in for the last two years sits empty at the bottom of the hill. The chicken coop that my dad and I built out of two old tables, some 2x4s, and chicken wire rests in the back yard, but the chickens are gone, given to friends. The first successful garden we ever grew covers itself in winter brown and a tangled mess of autumn weeds, now dead and lined with traces of snow.

There’s the flat stretch of yard between the house and the garden – yesterday as we finished packing up, I went out and removed the small stakes we had used to mark soccer goals. There were many 10-9 games on that pitch that will go down in the record books. The inadvertent goal off of Abra’s head comes to mind. The World Cup has nothing on us.

Whenever we leave a place I think about how the next people who live there will have no idea what some of those random things are: the small mounds of rock, like altars, where Lucy and Abra pretended to be chefs and made feasts out of pebbles; the not-quite-natural crisscrossing of fallen branches in the woods that was our fort; the tiniest of pencil strokes on the trim to the girls room that marked their height, creeping up the door as these two years passed. There is a tiny toy car under the woodpile, and a deflated ball up in the tree: remnants left by Cade and Sam.

Those were two of the hardest years of my life. We arrived broke and broken, with only the tiniest sliver of hope remaining, like those first shoots of green in the spring. I wrote up in the workshop until my pinkies were numb from the cold, and all the while the space heater at my feet felt like the surface of the sun. I mowed the grass, back and forth, back and forth, the previous 30-some years of my life running over and over through my mind like a bad movie I couldn’t quite forget.

But they were also two of the best years of my life. It sounds rather cliched, but somehow I found myself there in that tiny house, fingernails dirty from the garden, shoes stained green from mowing the grass. I found my family again. I found Maile again. It’s a strange thing, finding so many things when you never even knew they were missing.

But it’s time, you know? It’s just time to move on.

It’s time to get going.

* * * * *

Have you ever had a place that was hard to leave?

16 Replies to “It’s Time to Move On”

  1. A friend of mine once prayed for God’s abundance in our lives. It’s tempting to turn that into just finances, but abundance can be so much more than work. I still struggle with that. I often find that I ask for prayers related to work, neglected to thank God for the blessings he’s given me. It seems to me like you’ve had a season of abundance at your home. Safe travels!

    1. Before we moved from VA to PA two years ago, Maile had been praying that God would lead us along the right path, even if it at first felt painful. Soon after that, my painting business went under, we moved into my parent’s basement, and I started writing full time.

      But you’re right, it has been a time of abundance. Good thoughts, Ed.

  2. So funny, Shawn, I was struck (overwhelmed, really) by the memory of a place just this morning while driving the kids to school. We’ve had a lot of places – some we were happy to leave (no offense, Mom and Dad) and a couple were tough.

    The place from this morning was a house that we bought with my parents before having kids – money-pit style. There were so many times that it seemed like the biggest mistake we could have possibly made. But it turned out that we had two babies there, made some of our best friends there, and ended up with something to be pretty proud of.

    I remember after moving our stuff out, carrying Jack, just over 1 year old, around and showing him all the work that Poppy and I did to get ready for his arrival – I do still miss his first room, his first toys in the corner, baths in the sink. Really, I think I just miss my first baby.

  3. As excited as I was to move to Nashville and all its unknowns, it was hard to say goodbye to Illinois and all my family and friends. So many memories everywhere I looked. I have no regrets about moving but it’s always nice to go back to my hometown and remember and be known.

  4. This is lovely. Every move is an upheaval of sorts, even if you’re more than ready to get goin’. When I leave the house we’re in now, it will be the hardest of all. We have loved this place – and we re-found ourselves here, too. From a brand new job for me 15 years ago to retirement for both of us, two close family deaths, six grandchildren born…lots of memories and rich story-telling. I hope your trip is filled with adventure, discovery and not too many colds or flat tires!! Really looking forward to hearing about it as you go. And, as I’ve said before, if you ever get up Santa Barbara way, let me know.

  5. Oh, man. This strikes me hard. My husband left a job, and a community, he’d had for 17 years. This meant our children would leave, because they were students at the private school where he taught. They’d been there since they were each 3. For the eldest, this meant 11 years of her life, plus the first 3 years of being loved on by faculty. It’s been a semester since the kids (and I) bowed out, and two months since Kurt has, and I miss some of those friends daily. It is hard for me to see the 8th graders getting ready to “graduate” to the upper school. It hurts to know that 6th grade balloon launch is this week and my child will not get to be part of that. It kills me that 3rd grade Oklahoma unit will be unpopulated with dresses I hand make for the girls, my son not getting to stake his land claim like his sisters did.

    Yes. Dammit Shawn. You made me homesick for a place that is 6 miles from my house!

  6. One of the hardest places for me to leave was Missoula, Montana. I had moved there to start a new life, with a new slate. When I became engaged there I was ecstatic, but I knew that I had to move back home where jobs were more stable, we had the close support of family and friends, and could begin our life together in a more stable environment. But it meant giving up my dream; it was a dream I had on my own though, not the dream for Kevin and I together.

    Thoughts with you as you head out.

  7. Awesome post Shawn. I really enjoyed that one. I feel envious and happy and proud for you. Your courage is contagious. Your honesty is refreshing. Your observations are poignant.

  8. It is indeed the souls and spirits that make a place significant and memorable. Objects and structures have no life except that which they borrow from the living. Once infused, though, that spark persists, doesn’t it? I swear the magic is ever-lasting, at least for those who are in-the-know. For the oblivious ones who come afterwards, they don’t see it. They can’t. Your magic is not theirs; they must make their own.

    I met the people who bought the first house my wife and I built and lived in. I remember saying something to them at the time, like, “Do you know how special and unique this house is?” They said, “Not yet. But we intend to make it so.”

    Enjoy your trip and the next stage of your journey together!

Comments are closed.