Jared came into the house to grab a neon yellow rope and to make sure I looked outside. He was trying not to laugh, but I could barely understand him around his half-suppressed giggles.
“Oh man… seem like… nice kids… you have to see…” Still laughing to himself, he went back outside to finish helping the couple who’d just purchased one of our couches off of Craigslist. Intrigued, I went to the front window.
There was more couch hanging out of the back of their tiny SUV than there was inside of it.
And he was right; it was hard not to laugh, but they did seem like nice kids.
As I watched my husband help wrap and rewrap rope and elastic cords around my couch, my mind peeled back the years, back to another thin young man and blonde young girl with more rope than sense.
We brought our first Christmas tree home on the roof of Jared’s Nissan Sentra. I was 9 months pregnant and proud as hell to be setting up a real tree in the living room of our trailer.
I was proud, too, of the makeshift slipcover I’d made from navy blue bedsheets to cover the orange plaid couch my dad had given us. Our home was cobbled together from hand-me-downs and yard-sale finds, but we were too young and too broke to worry about impressing anyone with furniture. We did the best we could and in those first few years of marriage we held our home and our lives together with little more than neon rope on more occasion, literally and figuratively.
I watched the overloaded vehicle drive away and silently hoped for the best for two nice kids.
I turned and smiled at my husband. “Remember that Christmas tree?”
“Yep,” he said.
“And the used furniture?”
“Yep.” He shook his head and chuckled to himself again as he went back inside. I knew he saw it, too.
The circle, our place in it – it was beautifully clear for a moment.
I couldn’t feel any bitterness or resentment about the little bit of cash I was getting in exchange for our once brand new belongings. I was grateful for the chance to give back, to step into the next phase of our lives while leaving a little something of ourselves behind for the kids just starting out with the part we’re finishing up.
I know it sounds airy-fairy and dramatic, but I walked away from that transaction feeling so connected, not just to two strangers but to the whole process. I felt safer in some understanding that we all go through seasons – or phases or stages, whatever you call them. It was reassuring to be reminded of being on an ever-evolving journey as opposed to a finite quest.
I guess it was just a reminder that this is never it.
It reminded me, too, that even the days that seem the hardest will someday be looked back on with just a shake of the head and a chuckle.