31

31 is the number of the home my family has lived in for nearly 14 years.

The only home my 11-year-old son has ever known.

The home my husband and I moved into before marriage,

before parenthood,

and before the tragic loss of my father.

In October we will say goodbye to it.

We are excited for what is to come,

but it is profound to leave the home where we became a family.

As I pack up our belongings,

I have come across artwork from my husband’s, my son’s and my own

early childhoods.

Books with inscriptions from long-dead loved ones.

Heirlooms from ancestors on both sides.

It is a beautiful, painful and awe-inspiring task.

To pack up a home is to take stock of one’s life.

To pack up a home is to see all of the iterations of ourselves.

Our infancies, our childhoods.

And in my husband’s and my case, our adolescences and our adulthoods.

When we moved into 31,

my husband and I were 29 and 30 years old,

engaged,

canvassing for Obama,

in completely different jobs from the ones we hold now,

and with no idea of all that would unfold.

No matter what one may envision,

life will always hold surprises.

Some wonderful, some deeply painful.

Less than a year after bringing our son into the world, my father died.

We were overwhelmed by grief and shock — me in particular.

But we had to raise our son, go to work, pay our bills.

We had to live our lives.

And, somehow, we have thrived despite the pain.

Despite a global pandemic that upended life itself.

It was in 31 that the three of us learned to work and study remotely.

In our two bedroom apartment, we learned to withstand lockdown,

and to be grateful for painless breath,

as well as for each other.

31 holds so much of our history.

It holds all of my son’s history.

A few nights ago, as my son laid down to sleep,

he surveyed his bare room, and said softly,

“Voy a extrañar a esta casa.” (“I’m going to miss this house.”)

He is right.

His father and I will miss it too.

But, as with all goodbyes, we will carry 31 in our hearts.

It is time to continue our story.

And our new home holds the next chapter.

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Naomi Raquel

Naomi Raquel

148 Followers

Bilingual. New Yorker. Multiethnic. Change Agent. Author of “Strength of Soul” (2Leaf Press; University of Chicago Press, April 2019)