The other weekend I got my potato masher back.
It happened when I was helping my friend’s sister move from a townhouse to a house with the kind of screened-in porch and deck, not to mention family room with a fireplace, that most likely will make the place party central. She had ended up with the masher the weekend of Memorial Day when I toted it along to her dinner party to break up fresh strawberries for the pound cake. But the masher became lost in the shuffle until we were unpacking boxes in her sister’s kitchen and my friend held it aloft. “This yours?”
Lately it seems I’ve been doing a lot of helping people move. This particular lending of a hand was all fun and laughter as the occupants reveled in the new house with its abundant space and shorter commute to work. The help I’ve been giving my longtime friend, Becky and her family, however, is more bittersweet.
They have been in the process of moving for almost a year after the owner of the cattle farm where they were living and working decided it was time to sell. Buying the farm was out of the question. So was trying to find another farm in this part of the country where land is at a high premium. Time to head west.
It looks like Becky and her husband, plus their twin daughters, will be settling in Nebraska or maybe Wyoming. Regardless, there’s going to be a move and no time to waste in packing up a household.
The other week we spent the day filling a stack of cardboard boxes with her collection of nativities, including the one she was forced to buy when we were visiting Argentina back in the day when travel was as much a part of our budgets as paying the utilities. Rummaging through a gift shop, she had lifted the nativity to check the price and the baby Jesus tumbled out of his manger and onto the floor, broken. In a few months she’ll be unwrapping it for Christmas in a new home.
She has been packing for months and it’s now down to the practical rather than the sentimental. Does she really want to take the girls’ crayon artwork across the country? Is there enough room for all the books? Won’t they have pots and pans they can just buy when they get there?
We seemed to be making great progress cleaning out drawers and closets, removing pictures from the walls and wrestling with rolls of tape. But it all came to a screeching halt as we stopped to flip through her wedding album, looking at pictures from when her husband had hair.
We continued to stumble upon even more tangibles of the times we shared as friends. We stopped for lunch and had a glass of wine. It will still be weeks before they actually move and I wasn’t allowing myself to fall into getting weepy. All that will come soon enough.
I wrapped wads of packing paper around a picture of a farm scene in winter. Before sticking it in the box with the other pictures I took a Sharpie and wrote on the paper: “It’s about time you unpacked me, I’m melting!” I could just see my friend laughing from miles and miles away.
— Nancy Luse writes from Frederick, Md.