Friday, August 9, 2013

New House, New Town, New World

Everything is different, and yet I feel as if we have lived in our new home for always.

There is a new view out the kitchen window.

And a new view from the office, one that allows chickadees and hummingbirds to peer in at me as curiously as I look out at them.

Fewer planes fly over us, but more fire-breathing dragons, of a sort. This giant balloon sneaks up on us every evening; you don't know it's there until you suddenly hear the roar of the flames heating the air inside it.

There are new walks to take and trails to explore.

There are different things going on down the block. Like rodeos and gymkhanas.

Some of us have had new experiences such as learning that crawling under the deck may require extra time devoted to face washing.

The "lived here for always" feeling can't be due to the place being a big mess, as our old home often was (having had a  natural inclination toward entropy). Things are slowly coming out of boxes and finding niches for themselves in cabinets and on shelves. So it won't be a shambles forever. I hope.

And these are just the book boxes!
I've lived in cities for the past 30 years; first Hoboken, New Jersey, then New York City, and finally Seattle.

But I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, where I enjoyed a very happy childhood. I spent endless summer days in a big backyard drenched in blazing East Coast sunshine, drowsy with heat, listening to cicadas whir and mockingbirds sing, drawing pictures and reading and downing glass after glass of sweet iced tea.

So moving out to an unincorporated area of King County, to a home that's sort of suburban but dips its toes into the vast pool of countryside around us, doesn't feel as jarring as I thought it would after three decades of city life.
Our former house's living room, which faced west

Sure, I miss being close to my friends in Seattle.

I miss the garden I nurtured for 17 years, the birch tree and the shrubs and the living-room window view of the birds at the feeder and the Steller's jay that perched on the fence by the patio. And the light that poured in through the windows of our westward-facing house and dappled the wall with shimmering shadow-patterns of fluttering birch leaves.

And I miss the easy access to the things that make city life so enjoyable. It takes a lot of planning and good shoes to walk to a coffee shop around here, whereas I could step out of my previous house and grab a latte, buy cowboy boots, sample some gourmet chocolate, and even go get a tattoo, if I pleased, without walking more than a block's circumference away from home.

Venturing out a few more blocks, I could dine on pizza, Greek food, Mexican cuisine, or pub grub, then wander over to a world-class zoo or poke around in book shops and vintage stores. And that's without even putting any thought into what else I could do that day.

But this habitat feels good, too. Sitting in the backyard, on a small deck a bit like the one my father built on the house I grew up in, I felt a lot like my 12-year-old self, reading a book while chickadees chirruped overhead. I feel very fortunate that I have moved from a place I love to a place I love.

And sunlight still finds a way to flood our northern-facing home, even if for just a portion of the day.