One thing I feel like I’ve learned over time is that you can’t really experience things before they happen. That may sound patently obvious, but oftentimes we’re called upon to report our feelings related to an event that hasn’t yet happened. Whether it’s a graduation, a marriage, a birth, a death, or a cross-country move, you can’t know what you’ll feel until you feel it.
I am starting to feel things. With all of our major logistics in process, my list of immediate tasks has gotten a bit smaller, leaving me with time and space in my day to actually experience my experience. We are beginning to have “goodbye” meals and coffees and playdates with our people here in Houston, who are, of course, what we’ll miss most of all.
The daily-ness of life’s goodness is impossible to quantify, the moments that lodge in our memory often unexpected and somewhat mundane. When I think about leaving Houston behind, what I feel sorry to be leaving behind comes to me mostly in sensory flashes: grackles shaking their feathers in the puddles that form in the HEB parking lot after the rain, the sensation of being so close to Rice campus and the four years of undergraduate memories it contains, driving home at dusk from our friends’ farm and watching the big Texas sky change colors, the view out the window onto the backyard of the house where Jill was living when I fell in love with her, where we brought Shiv home from the hospital, where we’ve thrown Diwali party after Diwali party. The kitchen where I really learned to cook. The oven that’s churned out a ridiculous quantity of baked goods. The couch where our now-gone dog, Dolly, and cat, Reece, would huddle protectively around Jill during her long slog through chemotherapy.
A week ago today, we drove down to Galveston, our last trip down there for the foreseeable future. I relished the smell and the sight of the shore, the brightly-colored Victorian-style beach homes, the feel of the sand, the sight of the gulls and pelicans, the company of friends and the sleepy feeling of being post-swim-and-sun, full of food, and on a breezy patio. We are so lucky to have had such a good life here.
Knowing that I’m about to leave has allowed me to appreciate my adopted home more: making sure to eat favorite foods, see favorite pieces of art, cross things off the “Houston Bucket List,” and to simply pay better attention to what’s around me. Since I’m not sure quite what I’m going to miss, I am trying my best to soak it all in.
To miss something affirms that you loved it, that it has shaped you, that it’s part of your history, a piece of your narrative. Maybe I won’t miss the traffic or the construction, the humidity or the mosquitoes, the fire ants or the hurricanes, but I will, without a doubt, miss Houston.