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There’s an empty space in the living room. The love seat and the side table next to it took the long ride to the dump today. It was the oldest piece of furniture I have owned. The father of my daughters bought it when he was moving into his own apartment for the first time. And by that I mean I was moving in too, although it was not yet formalized. This makes the small sofa over thirty years old. It traveled from an apartment in Northwest Portland to a rented house in Multnomah Village across the street to the first owned home to the second owned home on Jerald Way. From there it went to the apartment off Beaverton-Hillsdale highway, south to the tiny seminary apartment and back again north to Santa Rosa where, after years of various sofa covers that never worked well, it finally fell short of the store/move cut. Also gone is the larger sofa, it too being old enough.

Also, I’m out of Thai fish sauce. I use it all the time. its a fantastic umami shortcut for soups, sauces. stews. I have about 12 more days of cooking in the United States,  (It’s really closer to 15 nights in the country but some nights we’ll be eating out.), so I know I’m going to miss it. However, I’m not going to buy it again till I get to Tangleman’s, the grocery store connected to the hotel we’ll be living in for a month or two. We’re out of rice too. That stuff comes in 1 lb sacks. We’ve been out of pasta for a while. I only buy fresh pasta now because that’s a cook and use serving size.

I’ve had my last teeth cleaning, my last hair cut with people I trust for that kind of care. I’ve cleaned out the garden and put in the winter cover crop wondering who’s going to care for it come spring. We have renters now. I need to write up a care-and-feeding sheet for the raspberries at least. I didn’t eat hardly a raspberry from my garden this year. We were in Germany in June during most of the raspberry season. I planted raspberries because I wanted to remember my Oregon garden and here I am, leaving again.  In my third year at seminary, I bought a rose bush and kept it in a pot outside my door. I wanted to remember the roses from my Portland home. When I moved to Santa Rosa, I took the rose bush and planted it into the ground. “We are home now,” I told it. Now I’m leaving it too.

However I do have about five or six cans of garbonzo beans still on the shelf. I bought a bunch when the vegetarian elder stepson lived at home and consumed about a gallon of hummus per day. I thought, “Hummus is easy to make, I’ll just get a bunch of  these cans and he can have fresh hummus whenever he wants.” They are yours if you want them but lets just say elder stepson moved out about three years ago.

We have friends who say, as we all say all the time, “hey, lets get one last dinner together sometime before you leave.” I’m looking at the calendar and I see that we’re running out of time to make sometime a specific time. Maybe I’ll just start calling people up for the last four nights when the kitchen will be packed up and boarding a ship. Its so odd to think of things like my guitar on board a ship in one of those containers stacked up on the deck and heading out under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Most of the time when I cross the bridge I think about my father and my uncle going to to and returning from WWII and the Korean War. There’s a statue of a young man as a sailer with his duffle bag at his feet at the North Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint which I love.  AfterWWIII  my father earned some college money working on merchant marine ships but he only took two trips before he gave that up. My uncle made his life in the merchant marine. While he kept an apartment in New Orleans, he never really had a home. I found three sets of divorce papers for him but none of the marriage certificates. Also, a few photos of tahitian dancers and a few matchbooks from bars in Hawaii. No rose bushes.

While I’m still a bit terrified, I can also now say I’m almost ready. It’s almost time to go.  i’ve actually been letting go for a while now. I hardly took care of the tomatoes this year because I was already leaving.

When we arrived at the Karl Theodore last June, the store was selling herbs in pots. Even though it didn’t make economic sense, I bought three: Basil, sage, and rosemary. It helped me feel like “home.”  After a week, two more pots joined my three. I think the maid gifted me with orphans from another room. When it was our turn to leave, I buried them in some planters where I hoped they’d get watered. We’re going back to the same hotel. I’m going to go looking for those pots and see if they survived. Our so-far-not-yet-found apartment will have a balcony and that balcony will have herbs, maybe even another rose bush. I can see the herbs but I can’t see the balcony yet. Even so, we made sure that the garden gloves, clippers and hand shovel were packed for Munich. I’ll be ready when we get there.

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