I found this today, written more than a month ago on the night we moved out of our Nashville home. It hurts more now than it did then. Trent Dabbs sings a song about our little Nashville neighborhood, Sylvan Park that’s perfect for me today. The refrain is something along the lines of “I still feel for you in the middle of the dark, I pulled out the stars we hung above our Sylvan Park, I’ve lost all direction can you help me to steer? Because this first year’s not a year without you.”
They say home is where the heart is.
If that was truly the case, my arteries and veins and atriums would be scattered all over the states … a bit of it would be stuck way up north in New Hampshire, little pieces in southern Virginia, some just over the river in sweet home Alabama. My primary pulmonary would be thumping here, among these streets and sidewalks and selves I have known in Middle Tennessee.
And a great big piece of it yet would be nestled in the 840 square feet that made up our first home. We locked the doors for the last time today, and passed the keys on to friends who will explore it as newlyweds the way we did.
I am simultaneously sad and happy, empty and full. There is something deliciously exciting about the newness of our adventure – three years has been too short and too long all at the same time, but with abundant clarity and hope we are ready for what’s next.
But even that hope and that clarity can’t make this whole journey sting any less.
The things I will love about our tiny little home, with its red walls and disappointing lack of windows, are the acres of memories it holds.
There were Thanksgivings for 20+ friends, crammed so tightly into the living/dining room that I don’t know how we all fit once we were done eating.
There was our first night as newlyweds, and the way we have awkwardly tumbled our way through these first years of marriage. Our first big fights – and the hundreds of little ones that happen each day that speak more about our marriage than anything else.
There were 2 Christmases, and hymns sung around an old piano – that also played host to Rob’s version of rap and pop hits on numerous occasions when beers flowed more readily than perhaps our artistic talents.
There was the night we sent Wesley off to school with prayers and one last rousing rendition of Africa – I blessed the rains.
There was one national championship – Roll Tide! – and many a loud Saturday afternoon of football watching leading up to it. A couch was broken, a red velvet cake perfected, and a thousand choruses about the land where the skies are so blue.
There were dozens of family dinners, with two brothers, a sister, and me – a luckier sister-in-law than any in the world, I assume.
There was beer brewing by the boys, and an unspeakable amount of their bottles that we found in every nook and crevice of every closet these last few weeks.
There were more than gallons of tears shed, dozens of cakes baked, letters written, enchiladas consumed, games of Settlers well fought, and prayers said.
We were blessed beyond measure in our tiniest of first homes. Our welcome mat was well-worn, past the point of being able to read the “welcome to our home” in black block letters.
I’m not entirely sure we will ever have 3 years as full and magical as these have been. We’re off to school once more, and if and when we come back to Nashville our dear friends will be scattered across the midstate and beyond. Babies will have been born, jobs changed, people changed.
And that’s ok. It really is. Because for 3 years, our doors have been open and friends have flowed through our home and hearts in a way that is truly extraordinary. At times, it’s tired – the inevitable “explosion” when inviting 2 people to dinner becomes 4 and then 6 and then more. When we know each other so well and for so long, we forget to leave space for the growth that has happened.
But perhaps it’s like the end of a good book, that you’ve read from cover to cover and you loved every single second, but you know it’s done. And you take from it lessons and memories and a deep love for your favorite characters, but it’s still over. And you can’t keep going back and reading it over and over and over again, or the pages will wear out and the characters will grate on your nerves, and you’ll already know how it ends.
Sylvan Park has been good to us. The stars shined and fell on us there.