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01 June 2007

my first lunch in our new home

my first lunch in our new home

The first night the Chef and I spent in our new home, we held hands all night long. Nicked on nearly every finger from paper cuts or unexpected bumps against doorknobs and stove handles, our hands were exhausted. Our muscles were sore. Our feet wanted to leave the ground. We slept well that night, after three days of packing and one day of frantic, laughing shoving of stuff into a truck.

The Chef’s sister wrote to us afterwards to advise: “Anything you say during moving doesn’t count. So shout and swear away!” Perhaps we are disappointing her when I write that we never raised our voices, throughout the entire, arduous process. We never do. Frankly, we spent most of the time laughing. Does that make us freaks? Maybe. But mostly, we were excited. That kept us giggling. We were going to our new home.

Our friends helped. Oh, that we could all have such friends. Molly and Brandon showed up to lift and heave boxes, carry torchiere lamps in their hands, with big pillows tucked under their arms. Brandon even brought us gifts for the kitchen. Of course. That boy knows how to find a copper double boiler for three dollars, and a working Cuisinart food processor for two, amidst the detritus of dusty shelves at Goodwill. We blessed him for a moment, and then directed him to the truck. Later we would exult in our new possessions. In that moment, they just needed to be moved. And Peter, dear Peter, showed up early to run up and down the stairs (that was his volition), lifting as much as he could in every trip. He would have taken the dresser down to the truck himself, if the Chef hadn’t insisted on helping. Along the way, the two of them became even closer friends. At the end of the day, the three of us sat outside for lunch, at a little diner near highway 99, eating burgers (mine without a bun) and drinking (beers for the boys, a chocolate-peanut butter shake for me), sweaty in the sunshine and smiling.

This was the easiest move of my life.

At one point, as the Chef and I were driving down the freeway to our new home, almost all our worldly possessions behind us, I looked over at him and started to laugh. When he asked why, I said, “Now I know we’re getting married. I feel like part of a real, adult couple. We’re driving a U-Haul together.” He started laughing immediately. It’s hilarious what makes you feel connected to someone.

Of course, the aftermath of moving is never as succinct as the move. Why do I always forget this? First, there was the old apartment to clean. Any vestigial sentimentality I had about that green-kitchen place dissipated on the second day, when I was down on my hands and knees, scrubbing the bathroom floor. Sweat rolled down my back, the stray hairs that won’t go into the ponytail sat plastered to my face, and I still had hours of work left to go. I sat up for a moment, wiped my forehead with my forearm, and thought, “Why did I think I was going to miss this place?” Cleaning after the possessions are gone is the most onerous task of moving, but it might be the most helpful. Square by square, I wiped away any attachments I had to the place. Now, it’s just an empty space, no longer mine at all.

And besides, the new place? It’s home. The first morning we woke up, the Chef and I looked at each other, and said, “I love you.” (We do, every morning. Those are always the first words that either one of us says.) And then we looked at the golden light, filtered through the green trees outside, shimmering through the windows of our bedroom. “Look at this place!” he squealed. “This is our home!”

We still can’t believe it.

After all, I never imagined I would live in a home with French doors leading to little patios. Or a fireplace with a dark wood mantel. Or a backyard so enormous that we still haven’t explored all its corners. Or a beautiful brown garden shed that might become a chicken coop in a few months (yes, with real, live chickens!), and next to it an old bathtub buried partway in the ground, which will soon become my space for meditation outside.

This is more than a house we are renting. This is our home.

We have started nesting.

I can feel myself growing more domestic by the moment. I’ve hunted down all environmentally friendly cleaning products to stow beneath the kitchen sink. I’ve asked my mother if I could borrow her sewing machine for the indefinite future, because I’d like to learn how to sew, for the first time in my life. (I’ll never be as good as Soule Mama, or even her six-year-old son, but I’d like to open myself to it now.) And this afternoon, I grew genuinely excited about buying clothespins, because we have a clothesline in the backyard, where we can hang our clothes out to dry in the sun.

Just a few feet away from the clothesline is a patch of grass destined to be our first garden. Our landlord is a master gardener, here in Seattle, and one of the kindest men I have ever met. He seems pleased to teach us how to bend down in the earth and work with the dirt. I cannot wait to plant the starts and see them shoot up from the ground.

My god, who have I become?

The woman I have always wanted to be.

We will be unpacking boxes for weeks to come. We have promised ourselves that we will have the house the way we want it in time for the wedding. (Oh, the wedding! We’re getting married in nearly six weeks. Wow.) With a house like this, we have time for breath and pauses.

The first afternoon in our home, I took time out for lunch. The Chef was in his kitchen at the restaurant. I was headed back to the old place, for cleaning. But the outdoors beckoned, and I listened. I sat at the picnic table by myself and ate a frisee and wild-greens salad with local goat cheese, pecan pieces, and a champagne vinaigrette I had made on the spot when I found the blender in a box. I found a leftover water bottle from the move the day before. And I set out a bowl of organic strawberries, which we had packed from the old refrigerator. I called the Chef, to share it with him, and then I sat in silence. The birds were singing around my head, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

And the sentence that sang inside my head: “I’m home. I’m home. I’m home.”


At 11:00 PM, Blogger JLHesse said...

Congrats!!! Best wishes for many happy days in your new home.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Tea said...

Yay for you! I'm sorry I wasn't there to help with the lifting, but I can't wait to see the new place. May you fill it up with happy memories and glorious meals.

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

Beautiful! I'm so happy for you guys, this is a lovely space to start the next part of your journey together.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

Shauna ! To be the woman you have always wanted to become ? Wow. I aspire to that someday as well. What an amazing statement, and I am so proud of you !!!

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Your comment about being the woman you always wanted to become brought tears to my eyes--this is what I aspire too but am so caught up in the whirlwind of life and responsibilty I have yet to be who I know I am... Bless you and the Chef in your new home, your new life and future together.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger SouleMama said...

Oh! I'm so happy to hear that you are 'home'....what a gift. Enjoy, enjoy it all (even the unpacking!). I wish I could pop over for a little sewing fun with you. ;) In spirit, I suppose.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

The first meal in a new house is so special! I have pictures of our family and friends eating pizza on a tablecloth spread on the floor our first night... it might as well have been pate with truffles!

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

This comment is my first, but I have been reading for months. (Finally got an account.) Love your posts so much. You embody the positive spirit I adore for life and GF living! This new place suits you and the woman you will become :-) . It reminds me of the first place that my DH and I lived ... the yard, the outbuiding ... it all will become more special with your and Chef's touch. I will be at the GIG conference on Friday and will be attending your session--soooo hope to meet you! (Please mention your appearance at the GIG conference here if you get a chance, I bet you have readers who would be interested in attending the conference, but might not be aware of it yet and would certainly want to attend to hear/meet you.) All the best to you in this next phase of your new life with Chef!

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Karen Coates said...

Congrats on the new place! And the calm-and-collected moving experience. I took a look at your photos, and I'm entirely envious of your home's functionality. We just closed on a handyman's special in the Rio Grande basin (I'll be writing on that soon...), but it requires an enormous amount of work before we can move in.

You have a beautiful place on a beautiful piece of land. I share your excitement for clothes lines, birds and potential gardens. Enjoy!

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Lynn Barry said...

Congrats on getting moved and being able to move on...together. HUGS

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Shauna said...


Thank you so much. We anticipate years of wonderful adventures.


Thank you, my dear. don't worry about the lifting. It's the eating and laughing we want you for. come over soon!


Thank you. that's what it feels like, the start of a journey.


Thank you. It surprised me to write that. But it really does feel true.
Your support — everyone's support here — has really helped that to be true.


Believe me, it has been hard won. But it seems to me the key to it (for me) really has been saying yes, to every moment as it arises, instead of wishing for something different. And some lovely things have come our way because of it. I wish for this peace for everyone.

Soulemama (Amanda),

Oh, how much do I wish that you could come and give me sewing lessons. Bring the babes and we can sit in the backyard and talk. By email, I guess. You have been one of my inspirations, to be sure.


That's a wonderful story. I love how much the taste of food is related to situation. Like the lunch at the top of a mountain — oh god, it tastes good. And the few meals we have eaten in our home have all tasted so sweet.


Thank you for commenting! And thank you as well for mentioning the GIG conference. Yes, I will be in Virginia, and I can't wait to meet you. (Please come up after the talk, okay?) I'll post something about it before I go.


Thank you so much for commenting, my dear. I'm honored. And your home sounds like an adventures. (Does this mean no Asia for awhile?) I hope you share the crazy, hilarious stories of fixing up that house.


Thank you, as always. Hug back to you too.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Les said...

It's taken me 45 years, but I am finally the woman I've always wanted to be, too. I work in a bookstore, live in an old house with beautiful woodwork and a porch and rockers (versus that McMansion everyone longs for), just bought my first kayak, and have been married to my best friend for almost 19 years. Who says dreams don't come true?

I'll be thinking of you on your wedding day as my husband and I fly out to Seattle to join my dad and his wife for a two-week cruise on their live-aboard boat up through the San Juans. We're counting the days!

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Gemma said...

Congratulations. I hope you enjoy your new home. I'll be looking forward to seeing the chickens, they are part of my dream future too!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Petite Planet said...

Shauna- Congrats to both of you on your new home. I loved being invited in via your photos and I am so happy for you. You are an inspiration and your relationship with the Chef always warms my heart and motivates me to infuse my marriage with even more love.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Peggy said...

What a lovely home, a lovely couple and a lovely story. Congratulations!

At 5:41 PM, Blogger scost63 said...

I found your blog shortly after I was diagnosed in Feb 2007 & you made me feel like I was not alone & that I could deal with this new lifestyle I had to educate myself about. June 8th I was at the GIG Conference and was so very excited to see you there. I love how you speak so passionately about food. You made me realize that I too have been taking pictures of food through the years. Although mostly just on holidays & special gatherings & my dad is in most of them doing something silly. But that's how I like to take them. I just wanted to let you know I took a photo of you and put it in an album I posted at the following link:

At 7:46 PM, Blogger yogaglamgirl said...

"Being the woman you've always wanted to be" took my breath away. I know how this feels and it gives me goosebumps. Congratulations on your new home and all of these precious moments.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Congratulations on your new home! I've just discovered your blog, and am excited by all the resources you've accumulated here. One bit of advice: if you're hanging your clothes outside to dry in the sun, turn them inside-out, because the sun will bleach them. Trust me, this is the voice of experience talking. I'll look forward to reading what you learn about vegetable gardening; I've recently bought a house with a very small backyard, and am planning (probably next summer) to try growing tomatoes and basil as companion 'crops,' then expanding to other things that grow well in New England if that goes well. Thank you for putting together this wonderful blog, and have a beautiful wedding!


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