The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Making gaps, letting go

Rachael Conlin Levy
Sam tells Dad goodbye
Marcel hugs Sam goodbye before the Amazon interview.

The world shifted slightly once the decision was made that we were leaving. What we believed to be so permanent loosened a little, like a tooth, and life is wobbling. In one week, the freezer and the compost bin were given away, books have been packed, and five gallons of paint applied to walls that showed the grimy hand-print growth of my children. I covered the wobbly signature of a 5-year-old Sam discovered above his bed.


It’s hard to dismantle a life.

Snowball fight

Max’s snowball fight.

Things I’ve found as the house is torn apart:

Two placentas (one from Ivan and one from a nephew) that were supposed to be planted under trees honoring the boys’ births, but were shoved to the back of the deep freezer and forgotten.

One dirty, frozen slushball, which reminded me of Bill Cosby’s hilarious story “Revenge” and prompted me to stop cleaning out the freezer and go listen to it again.

Three humongous Costco boxes of plastic forks. (What was I thinking, that life was going to be one endless picnic?!)

And behind beds and bookcases, I found the mummified remains of carrots gnawed on by my children and resembling shriveled umbilical cords.


I walk with my kids to school and we calculate how many more times we will travel these seven blocks: seventy-eight. We pass our neighbor Sharon and her dog, out for their morning walk, and tell her the news. Later I go to the grocery store for boxes and tell Chrishan, the Indian immigrant who left a career as a lawyer to move to Reno and bag groceries, that we are moving to Seattle.

These small goodbyes are like shedding skin. Eleven years must be peeled off so I can loosen my grip on this life and reach out and grasp the new one that awaits. When I told my closest friends of the move, my heart clenched into a fist and we cried, so I’m grateful for Sharon and Chrishan, who respond with happiness and only a teaspoon of sadness.

“I will miss you, my friend,” Chrishan said.

“I know.”

And I smiled at him with eyes that are dry.

Marcel heads off to his interview
At the airport, headed for Seattle.

Marcel will leave for Seattle in May and the kids and I will join him after school ends in June, which means he’ll be house hunting alone. Around the dinner table, he asked us what we wanted in our new, rented home.

Max: “A black house with a flame thrower and security cameras.”

His father laughed.

Sam: “My own bedroom, my own desk and my own computer.”

“More realistic, but equally unobtainable,” Marcel said.

Chaja: “A tree big enough to climb and strong enough to hold a swing, plus my own room that’s larger than a closet. And no black house.”

Me: “A fenced yard safe for children, large windows that will let in lots of gray light, and …”

“Can I ask for a force field?” Max interrupted.

“You can ask for whatever you want. Doesn’t mean you’ll get it,” Marcel said.

“Okay. Then I want a force field.”

Me: “Yes, a force field that will block the pollens and animal hair that trigger your allergies and asthma, Max.”

Drop by every Monday for I’ll be writing weekly as my family packs, moves 700 miles and resettles itself in Seattle.

5 responses to “Making gaps, letting go”

  1. Linda says:

    As you prepare to leave and dismantle your life in Reno you obtain the materials needed to rebuild your life in Seattle. What an exciting, though bittersweet time this is for everyone. I think we need some chocolate to ease us into this move. The Mosers will have you in Seattle, we'll have your worms, the compost bin, and wonderful memories of times spent together. Come and visit all of us in the Silver Springs desert anytime for you are already missed.

  2. Ok, Rachael, if you weren't such an amazing, strong, creative and resourceful friend, this would be much easier. We will miss you and your family so much! I am trying to be strong for you! Hugs, Kyndale

  3. Rachael Levy says:

    Now, look what you two have done. I'm crying again!

  4. Mindi says:

    Rachael!!! So exciting!! It is so good for us to stretch ourselves. I hope I make it to Reno before you leave. Otherwise, hope to see you in Seattle!


  5. Geoff Carter says:

    Marcel would do well to scour the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, Maple Leaf, Fremont and Greenwood for homes with laser cannons and force fields. I think that some of the older homes in Wallingford even have moats, and there's an all-night crocodile supply and feed store down on 45th and Stone Way.

    Oh, and: Hi there, soon-to-be neighbors!

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