There I am, sitting on the temporary velvet sofa in our temporary beige living room. The children run around me. One stumbles and starts crying. The second pounds away. The third stands there, shouting indignantly and demanding that we, the parents, solve the problem. I pretend I don’t hear anything and look outside.
A terrace with gray tiles, on the boulevard. The sky is gray, the angry whitecaps in the sea reveal that summer is over.
We will stay here for the entire month of October while miracles are performed in our new home.
We had slowly packed our things, postponed our departure and even after arriving we decided that we could sleep one more night in our old house before the buyers arrived. But when we stepped foot over the threshold, we knew: it was over. For a moment we regret that we did not pay more tribute to the old house. One last time of wine and rowdy behavior at the dinner table. Building a last blanket hut with the children. Singing Edelweiss when we put them to bed. Opening the curtains in the morning and seeing the neighborhood in watery light. Laughable amazement at the neighbor who walks his dog five hundred times a day and rinses his car with the garden hose in the pouring rain. But it’s too much. Sometimes you have to make it a little less than you would like to keep it bearable.
We had also imagined a lot about our beach autumn, as if we had already sketched the images that would remain from the period in the temporary house: the bowl that we would fill with found beach treasures, the walks through the sleeping village, where even the last German had left. The ice cream shop where we would be the only customers. The beach tents where the striped parasols disappeared into storage to make room for wood fires and hot chocolate. The striped skipper sweaters that all five of us would wrap ourselves in, as if the Daltons were on vacation. The souvenir shops that threw tiger shells on sale, and how we would hold them to our ears while the sound of the real sea would drown out our blood.
But now I sit on that couch, mentally still excited about our adventure, but in reality exhausted from carrying stuff, the fear of throwing away the past, the desire to start all over again and the persistent question of where In all the chaos my old cuddly toy Flappie remained.
And then, while the children let out increasingly high-pitched screams, their butts bright red, their eyes watery, they no longer know where to look in the mass of changes, I realize how unshakable a family is. Not only the children, but also the parents have dug themselves in and prefer to encounter only chaos in everyday life.
Uprooting ourselves hurts more than we would like. Allowing ourselves to flourish again in a new place is hard work. In addition, it is up to the parents to be the rocks in the surf, because we really made this idiotic decision to leave our base.
I slide off the velvet couch and lie on my back.
Someone stomps a foot on my face. I really hope that Flappie is just in a box.
And the sea just rustles.