I am sitting on the toilet in the bathroom of our new apartment perusing books on the shelf directly in front of me. I pull Think Again by Adam Grant off my black bookcase just an arms-length away from my “seat.”
I open the spine to a random page and read: “Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong…”
I replace it face up on top of the others—to be continued next time.
This is my new surprising delight: putting a bookshelf in my bathroom.
When my husband and I decided to build a new multigenerational home with my 84-year-old mom, my sister, and whichever of our children are around, I don’t plan on having to move into an interim space while we wait for our new house to get done. But when the housing market got hot this past spring, we jump on selling our house.
The downside is that we have to find a temporary home for six months.
Before we move into our new smaller space, I pace in front of my bookcases filled with books:
“Which of you am I going to bring to the apartment and which of you will go into storage?”
This question plagues me for weeks and weeks before we finally pack up our beloved Elmhurst home of thirty-two years on Oct. 22 and move to a two-bedroom apartment uptown Elmhurst with our daughter, our 75 pound Silver Lab, our 13 pound irascible cat, and just what belongings we can squeeze in.
It becomes apparent that I can only fit two of my six book cases in our new place—one in the living room and the only other wall space that will accommodate another shelf? The space directly in front of the toilet in my bathroom. Who knew that putting a bookshelf in my bathroom would bring me such joy?
This past September 6 when our realtor texts us that someone has bought our house, I weep. I’m flooded with the memories of raising our three children there, the familiar sidewalk and neighborhood where we daily walk our dog, our front porch where I sit every morning in good weather with my cup of coffee and thoughts. It’s as if a piece of me has suddenly been cut out.
The day before we close, Bill and I stand in the kitchen of our now bare and empty home. He says, “Let’s take one last selfie here.” I burst into tears.
I rally enough for one teary-eyed snapshot, and arm-in-arm we say, “Goodbye, home.”
Change is hard. It’s easy to cling to what’s familiar, to deny ourselves new opportunities for fear of the unknown—like building a house with your extended family. But change can also bring about the unexpected.
On the third morning in our new apartment, I look out our sixth floor window at the cars going by on the street below, at the vista of fall-colored trees in the nearby neighborhoods, at the outline of the Chicago skyline to the east—I feel the stirrings of excitement at the new journey ahead.
And each time I go to the bathroom, I almost giggle at the unexpected delight of putting a bookshelf in my bathroom. I reach for a book and read a paragraph or a page or a chapter—depending on the length of my stay—to be continued next time.
Life is like these books. When you turn to a new page, who knows what you might discover.