As we slowly box up our house for our move from Denver to Milwaukee, it seems as though I’m not just closing the lid on the Colorado chapter of our lives. I am also shutting the door to my youth.
Flipping through photo albums (real ones not digital), I marvel at the fresh, hopeful, totally wrinkle-free faces that gaze leisurely back at me. How smooth my skin was, how smoking hot my husband was, how freely we smiled.
We weren’t children when we moved to Colorado, but this sunny state is where we became adults. Here is where we owned our first home, created a family, said goodbye to two dear cats (our first children), and created friendships that will last our lifetimes. It’s where we built a marriage that is both surprisingly resilient yet always vulnerable.
The moving truck doors will close just months before we turn 40. It will contain almost nothing that crossed the country the first time around, except our nearly 18-year-old cat, an assortment of random dishes and likely some of my husband’s ripped, old Levis.
It is both refreshing to consider our new adventure and saddening. The nostalgia is palpable. Today, my husband chopped up our dark green, oversized couches, and we both feel the loss.
Those couches arrived in his 400-square-foot apartment in Milwaukee just two months after we began dating, nearly 16 years ago. They were deep enough for us to lie side by side watching a movie, back in the days when we had seemingly infinite time and desire to curl up next to each other. They provided comfort on the nights when we were in the heat of battle and wouldn’t share a bed.
The couches are where my husband napped with our newborn daughter tucked in the crook of his arm. They are where our cantankerous tabby, Sasha, gone three years ago this month, sprawled along the back, cleaning my freshly shampooed hair and gently resting her paw on my cheek.
It’s funny how when you chop up pieces of furniture, you discover so many memories hidden among the pennies and crumbs.
My husband and I are no longer a naïve couple ready to embrace the newness of marriage in a new place. We have more wrinkles. He has less hair on his head; I have more on my chin. We have scars from wounds that healed but may not ever be completely forgotten. We now have a history of tears and joy that can’t be boxed up, one that is contained only within the crevices of our minds.
For better and for worse, we are the same young people who moved here and yet we are also indescribably different. A cynic might say that Colorado stole our youth. I say it’s the place where we became one.
The irony that we are moving just blocks away from that studio apartment where “we” began one hot August night is not lost on me. Who will we be and what will we learn about ourselves and each other this time around?