Lucy knows what’s happening.
My cat, Lucy, has traveled with me around the world. She has traversed oceans and continents. She loves to travel— or perhaps it is just that she does not want to be left behind.
While my dog Milo remains blissfully oblivious, Lucy has assumed a position on top of the pile of clothes I plan to take with me. If there were a suitcase present, she would have crawled inside. Lucy is no longer young and sleeps most of the day. Since she can’t stay awake to keep an eye on me, she sleeps on top of my clothes to make it impossible for me to sneak off without her knowing. Her patience is admirable. While I remove window screens, sweep, vacuum, and finish cleaning out the last food in the refrigerator, she remains fixed to her post for the duration of the packing.
I am preparing to drive across the country to start graduate school. The plan is to cram everything I need into my small pick-up truck, load Milo and Lucy in the front seat, and drive south, then west, then south again across the desert until I reach my destination. I was concerned that the small pick-up would not hold all I needed so I started packing early, making piles of what I would bring with me.
The longer I packed, the less I found was needed.
As I imagined my new life, I realized I didn’t need many books, or shoes, or clothes. Instead of packing I found myself making donations to the thrift store. I didn’t need all the papers or folders or files that seemed to take up so much space and instead made several trips to the recycling center.
I looked at the large, unfilled space in my truck and wondered what was missing.
I moved back from Africa to my little farmhouse three years ago this month. When I moved back, my life was all about finding the kitchen knives and wondering how I would fill the emptiness in a new life. Now I am leaving again. I am leaving without a single kitchen knife and my life is full.
Instead of needing more luggage, I found I needed more time with the people who have filled my life in the past three years. Instead of packing, I found myself making phone calls to friends I had not spoken to in too long. I had lunch with a group of friends one day and dinner with my family on another. I spent a whole night talking with five wonderful women friends and I spent a lot of time with Daniel, some of it difficult, as we wrestled with what our lives would look like while he was still here and I was far away.
Now, as I eat the last of what little remains in the refrigerator (who says you can’t make a lunch of raspberries, pinto beans and olives?) I am overcome with love and gratitude and the pain of leave-taking. All that remains now is to put Lucy and Milo and Milo’s one-armed teddy bear into the truck.
In a few minutes I will put my coffee cup and my purse in the cab, unplug my computer, take one last look around the house, grab my keys and leave. Lucy is watching me closely with big dark eyes. Milo is sleeping. (He still does not know.)
My truck is empty but my heart is full from leave-taking. I have closed up the tailgate. Nothing is missing, I have everything I need.
Till next time,