I just couldn’t throw away the Christmas wreaths. I knew I needed to, and each time I walked out my front door, I inhaled the lovely evergreen scent and told myself I’d do it tomorrow. Throwing them away wasn’t a simple act of just throwing them away (although I suppose it could have been). I planned to put the boughs in the yard recycling bins, but that meant clipping them from the wire framing they were attached to. So week by week passed as I breathed in the deliciousness of fresh pine and Fraser Fir as I left my house.
There were two wreaths. One, brought from my Mom’s apartment on Dec 26 (“Christmas is over; I don’t want to see any of this anymore.”) and laid on a table on the porch, and the other, mine, hanging on the wall beside my front door.
As I sat on the porch this weekend, in 90 degree weather, I noticed that even though they still smelled yummy, the wreaths weren’t looking so great. They had lost their ever-green, and were more ever-brown. As much as I hated doing so, I pulled out my garden shears and started clipping the boughs and tossing them into the yard recycling bin. First, I worked on Mom’s. Clip, toss. Clip, toss. After about 20 minutes, all that was left was a bag of clipped boughs and a metal frame.
I went to the wall to pull down my wreath. Something was strange. Why was there mulch in the wreath? I absentmindedly thought that maybe a recent storm had blown debris onto the porch. And then I noticed it!
A bird had built its nest in the hole in the wreath! That was it; I couldn’t disrupt a bird’s nest. Happily, I sat back in the swing, read my book, and hoped that one day I would see the inhabitant of the nest.
Today marks one year since I signed the papers and moved into my new home in Asheville. Home, not house. From the moment I moved in, this felt like home, like where I was supposed to be. I’m not sure how many hours I’ve spent on the front porch swing, listening to rain storms, watching lightning, reading the mail, chatting with neighbors, or simply being. I’ve explored a few mountain trails and made a few acquaintances who are now friends. I’ve eaten more fried chicken than I probably should have, and enjoyed the vinegary tang of NC barbecue once again. I’ve listened to some great local musicians and marched in protests. I’ve explored farmer’s markets and discovered the store I visit most is the local Ace Hardware, where the woman working the register greets me with puns on my purchases. I’ve hosted friends from CA, from NY, from GA, from FL, from other parts of NC, and have visited the Biltmore House so often that I can almost recite the audio tour verbatim. And I wouldn’t have changed a moment.
I moved into my new place almost seven months ago. Whenever I see friends, they ask, “Do you still love your new place?” I always answer a resounding, “Yes!” Recently, though, someone asked me, “What is something unexpected that you love about your new place?”
I thought for a moment. I thought about the known things, those things I anticipated I would love: having a washer and dryer in my apartment (I have never experienced so much joy from doing laundry), having beautiful colors on the walls, living in a neighborhood I love. However, three things came to mind that I didn’t anticipate I would love when I bought this place:
- I never realized how happy having so much sunshine in my apartment would make me feel. My apartment is a corner unit, facing south and east, and I get sunshine almost all day long. Bonus, I’m never cold anymore.
- I never realized how happy I would be in a place that I could actually clean, and get clean. Each of the homes that I’ve lived in for the past twenty years have been over 100 years old. That’s a lot of built up dust that just doesn’t come clean no matter how much bleach you use. Here, I sweep my floors and they are clean. Clean!
- I never realized how happy it would make me to look outside my window at various times of the day and see the sun rising over the San Francisco skyline, the sky a delicate pink; or the sun shining brightly at midday, making all the windows of the skyline sparkle like diamonds; or the darkness late at night, when the lights of the nearby buildings shine like urban stars.