Kyle and I just spent a long, busy weekend making our house look worse. I kept saying, brokenly, “this is what progress looks like.”

I am too embarrassed to show you what progress looks like. Progress is fixing garbage disposals and unpacking half of a garage and laundry/laundry/laundry and washing and hanging curtains. And planting sage and ivy because, clearly, that’s a priority. Oh, and here is something I can show you: progress is putting molding/shoerail up over the newly painted floors.

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Progress is also a loopback, because probably one of the most delightful moments of this weekend was reuniting with my final box of packed up stuff. Stuff I haven’t seen in two years. I know what you are thinking—that if you can put something away for two years and not miss it, you probably don’t need it—but this is a box full of things that I have been lamenting the loss of for two years. I have, above all, been longing for my Prodigal Bookends. For months I’d turn to Kyle out of the blue and ask him where he thought the bookends could be. Shockingly his answer was, always, a disinterested, “hm, I don’t know.”

I’ll tell you where they could be: sitting in a corner of Old House, in a box labeled “Jana’s stuff,” covered in coal dust. It was like a reunion on top of a reunion. First the coal dust, sticking to shirt and hands and hair, calling me back to two summers ago. But beneath that! My antique mirrored bookends (which I was sure I’d never see again) and the vintage books (which sat on the tables at our wedding more than five years ago) and the flying pig statue (which I am always going to love, even if Kyle has been eyeing it askance for about five years as well) and the other pieces that sat on our mantle in the clean, pretty, normal house we once had in Texas.

Progress isn’t always the new. Sometimes it’s a return. So I cleaned it all up—and put it all back in place, in our new house, as best as I could. Some of us are a little worse for wear. My pretty bookends now have a good side and a bad side. But: we’re here.

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