It was the day before Christmas Eve when Kristin sent me the text.
I sat cross-legged in the center of my living room. Clean piles of laundry were splayed around the floor, turning me into an island amidst an ocean of cotton. My comfy clothes needed to be prepared for the post-holiday lounge.
I folded the legs of a black pair of sweatpants and set it on top of its fellow freshly folded friends.
My cell phone dinged.
I was surprised to see Kristin’s name on the screen. We’re the type of friends that get excited to see each other, but don’t text daily. A companionship that picks up where it left off. Like a reader using a bookmark to find the page.
“Hi Lindsay! Super random question but I see on Facebook that you know Katie L. They are looking at purchasing our house! I want someone to love and care for our house when we leave. I hope it all works out!”
Huh, I thought. Small world.
I did know Katie. She and I had worked together.
She was quiet and kind and dedicated: a once-barista and a forever-artist who once drew a perfectly accurate Taylor Swift portrait on a paper coffee cup for me. Earlier that year, she and her fiancé Andrew had to postpone their wedding due to the pandemic.
I told Kristin a shortened version of this, then asked, “You’re moving?!”
Typing dots moved across the text screen.
“I’m admittedly heartbroken leaving my house of 12 years,” Kristin replied. “I love the feel of it: the character, the sunrises and the sunsets. Howard’s [their golden retriever] home and the one we brought our babies home to. I’ve cried a lot of tears but looking forward to our next adventure.”
I had been to the farmhouse once. A couple of summers ago. Kristin had hosted a bonfire for our group of girlfriends. The house was adorable.
Two stories with yellow-cream brick.
A tan front porch with wicker chairs.
Hanging flower baskets.
The type that you could tell held history but didn’t slack with the times. Like a grandma who uses Instagram.
Kristin gave me a tour with pride. The kitchen countertops were covered with the typical Midwest summer menu: pasta salad and potato chips and coleslaw and condiments for our backyard festivities. The rooms were painted blue and burgundy and tan and green. Plants and pictures covered the corners and walls. We went upstairs, where Kristin smiled as she showed us the bedroom that had been converted into a nursery for their newborn.
We spent the evening sitting on the wide back porch, passing a guitar as quickly as the time. Stars stared down at us, our faces glowing warm from the bonfire. A perfect summer night.
It was just one memory I had in this farmhouse. I could only imagine the thousands of memories Kristin had underneath this roof.
But now the keys were potentially getting passed from one hand to another, and I knew them both.
Katie from Midland. Kristin from Saginaw.
Katie was engaged with a dog. Kristin was married with a family.
Two different lives. Two different worlds.
Their common denominator was me. And this farmhouse.
In February, I sent Kristin a text.
“Happy Galentine’s Day!” she responded. “We are spending it packing, moving and cleaning. Katie and her fiancé are getting our house!”
“Aw! I’m so glad that worked out!”
A week later, I scrolled through Facebook and saw a post from Kristin: pictures of her family standing in front of the farmhouse. It was moving day.
I switched to Instagram. There, at the top of my feed – posted mere minutes after Kristin’s post— was Katie and her fiancé standing on the exact same porch smiling in front of the front door. It was move-in day.
Katie and Kristin’s posts were minutes apart. And here I was, straddling both sides of it all. A witness to the letting go and the receiving.
I had known the whole “An ending is also a beginning” mantra, but I had never seen it play out at the exact same time, side-by-side. I felt like a fulcrum in this pivotal point of my friends’ lives.
So this is what Letting Go really looks like, I thought.
Where Katie’s post was packed with pure, singular excitement, Kristin’s post was tinged with nostalgic sadness. It made sense to me. Katie was hello. Kristin was goodbye. And goodbyes are notoriously harder than hellos, right?
No, I realized. It's not that simple.
Hellos and goodbyes are not black and white. It’s a murky gray of all emotions that are swirled with shades of uncertainty and change. The art of letting go involves a kaleidoscope of color: passionate reds, sad shades of blue and purple, hues of grateful yellow...a painting to represent the pure complexity in how this place or person or passion left a mark on our lives.
Endings and beginnings are always simultaneous.
When one door closes, another opens.
Sometimes it’s the same door for two people.
It’s our call when we need to let go. To understand that maybe this isn’t my door to unlock anymore. As much as we’d love to stay forever, there comes a point we realize this house isn’t meant to be our home...even though we wish it could be.
So we drop the keys. They change the locks. An era ends. There's a reason they call it a closing, I guess.
It's never easy, though. We want to hold on to what we know: the person, the place, the path, the plan. But something inside whispers, "It's time to go."
I texted Kristin a few weeks ago.
"I hope the new home is getting filled with new memories," I said.
"It really is!" she responded. "While I miss the things I knew I would miss about the old house, this new adventure has been a lot of fun. Has reminded me why letting go can be so good for us."
This farmhouse is the setting for a million memories and firsts for one family. Now it will serve as the backdrop for the beginnings of another. But the same address holds the same role for both Katie and Kristin: Our First Home.
Sometimes we must move in.
Sometimes we must move on.
Either way, it allows us to step forward. That step doesn't erase what once was: a crucial season of learning and loving and growing. The chapter becomes a part of our history.
And it's OK. Hard, but OK. To miss the things we know we'll miss.
But we have two hands: one to hold onto the memories.
The other to let go.