The sale of our house in Santa Monica will be final this Tuesday. I can't believe I'm writing this, but we are still clearing a few things out. Today I found a handful of silverware and two tupperware containers in one of the kitchen drawers for goodness sake! I've moved so many times, and have always considered myself such a pro - pro packer, pro mover, pro organizer, pro unpacker, pro homesteader. But this particular move, for some reason, has felt like a long piece of taffy that just keeps getting pulled farther out. Even after the final piece of paper is deposited into the final file on Tuesday and the house is no longer in our name there will be more transition-related details to attend to. The work of being fully settled up north isn't quite finished, and I have been moving through this entire experience accepting it as a different kind of journey from one home to another - different in its length and depth and breadth, in its hue and texture and flavor.

I spent all of yesterday doing work around the house in Santa Barbara, and this involved everything from working on a slow drain in our bathtub to dusting the shelves in my studio top to bottom. I got one of our closets better organized and hung a few more items on our walls. I emptied the trash everywhere. I (finally) put away a few items that had been sitting in my studio, items that weren't in the way, per se, but were in the way visually. They were just there, and now that they aren't the whole room feels lighter. Once that particular task was finished and my shelves were sparkling clean, I felt, for the first time since we moved, that my studio was finished. My desk is clear, the area around my easel spacious. I even put a new ready-to-paint panel on it, just to make it as easy as possible to try to learn how to use a paintbrush again whenever the inspiration strikes me.

Cleaning my shelves - which involved taking everything off of each shelf so it could be dusted - was kind of like flipping through a three-dimensional scrapbook of my life. I handled my collection of vintage books - found all over the world - and tiny bowls of tiny seashells I found as a little girl. I dusted off a vintage toy elephant, a wooden cigar box, and a diorama by this artist. I re-arranged my bird's nests, a few photographs and a small stack of match boxes that my grandpa brought back from Japan. I held each object carefully and thought about what it meant to me - where it came from, why it was meaningful to me. Everything held a different memory, telling the story of my life in tiny snippets small enough to fit in my hand.

The objects in my home - artwork, pictures, even dishes - have changed bit by bit with every move. Each home has been a blank canvas - a new opportunity to try out different arrangements, make room for something new and carve out space for whatever I can't part with. What an extraordinary and deeply personal project it is to create a space that reflects all that I cherish most - which is always, in the end, memories. It is the stories behind these objects, not the objects themselves. All the more reason to pull them out from time to time, one by one, to dust off, hold in my hand, and say a prayer of thanks for.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide