Yesterday morning I sat on our bedroom floor and rifled through a year’s worth of receipts. We’re prepping for taxes and because we’re both completely clueless about the system and absolutely petrified of being audited, we save every single receipt, every single year. I file them in a month-by-month binder, we grab whatever we need to hand over to our accountant, then I store it all until enough years have passed that even the IRS won’t expect us to still have them on hand.
This is a generally soul-less task.
But every time I do it, I realize it’s not December 31 that makes me think about how I spent the last year, it’s sometime when winter has its claws in the ground and refuses to give way to spring. It’s when I’m unfolding crumpled waxy slips of paper that say we took a road trip to St. Louis in January 2013, ate a lot of frozen yogurt in May, and must go to Trader Joe’s every other day judging by the receipt volume. It’s when April 15 is bearing down on us. Because these receipts are the markers of our steps in 2013. I look through them and I see our priorities, our day-to-day obligations, our special treats, and change.
Yesterday, I rapidly glanced at the dates on each to sort them and the events of last year came back to mind. We went to Alcatraz. We stuffed a pinata full of goofy stuff for my sister’s birthday. We took our first trip to the beach. We found our favorite burger place in the city and have gone back every month since. And then I kept looking and saw the boxes we bought for our move. Gas station receipts from our last trip to Missouri to say goodbye to Brad’s grandma. A trail of meals on the road that start in DeSoto, Iowa, and leapfrog across the country to the lunch we ate just after crossing Bay Bridge into San Francisco.
April 8 and April 9. Those receipts are the hardest. I held them in my lap and the burden of emotion I felt when we were moving came over me again. I lived on a surreal plane of selling our house, scheduling Brad’s last doctor’s appointments and that road trip, saying goodbye, saying goodbye, saying goodbye.
I held those receipts and I cried.
When we moved, my heart felt the pain of its thick, healthy roots being torn right out of the ground that nourished it for years. It’s taken me a solid nine months to soothe my heart and remind it the roots are still there, they’re just reaching farther now. What’s strange to me is how a small, inconsequential thing like a receipt can wrench me all over again, like it’s the morning I hugged my mom and dad goodbye and got in the car to move here.
Today, I feel really grateful. I’m so thankful time has passed and every day isn’t as hard as it was when we first moved. I’m so thankful we have friends who want to know us and much as we want to know them. I’m so happy we took this chance and I’m so grateful for the way once impossible things feel a little bit closer because of it.