I’ve been amazed to see how simply an entire life can be deconstructed, pulled in different directions, and slowly put back together like a five-thousand piece puzzle. This morning I am sitting in a new kitchen near cupboards that have only recently been filled with my pots, pans, and yellow plastic cups. There are boxes upstairs that still have to be dissected, and many more times that I will wonder why I didn’t get rid of more stuff before this move. But, by and large, this puzzle is coming back together. And just like every single one of my other moves, I am overwhelmed with giddiness that I actually get to live in this place.
For many years, if not for the rest of my life, I will always remember those last several weeks in Utah before we moved and the outpouring of love and support we felt from friends and family alike. It had all the bittersweet sentiment of a typical Mormon funeral—I’m sure we’ll see you again, but we’re sure gonna miss you! And I’ll be honest when I say that there were a few moments during that time when I thought it might be a good idea to just surrender to the emotion, call everything off, and stick around forever and ever.
As it turns out we are very, very loved, and I’m glad I didn’t have to die to find that out.
We arrived in Philadelphia around midnight on Thursday the 14th and gathered our eight allowable bags and found our shuttle van. Unfortunately, we ran into road construction traffic and didn’t reach our stopping place until around 2:00 a.m.. The next morning was a bit rushed—I had to get up early to proof some work before we left to do a walk-through of our house and then go to our closing. Our closing was also a bit hectic—there was a document missing and the loan amount was incorrect. I instantly feared that we were not going to be able to close without resolving these issues and panicked because, in a very literal way, we were homeless and alone. Fortunately, everything was worked out right then and there and we signed a stack of papers that promised our arms, legs, kidneys, and both of our livers if we ever thought about not paying our new mortgage.
After signing, we had a nice lunch with our realtor and then, well, then we were alone. And those first few hours of aloneness were intimidating. I had to mentally swat away at the those very un-helpful thoughts that swarmed me. I wasn’t a very good mom that afternoon. Maybe because I didn’t feel like a mom, but very much like a child. And so I sort of acted like one.
We immediately went to Costco to buy a mattress, sheets, pillows and gear for our one-week, empty-house camp out. (Our stuff wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the following week.) We quickly determined that trying to figure out how to haul a mattress was out of our emotional league, so we settled for an air mattress that fit easily into the back of the car.
While at Costco, I told the kids they could pick out something to have at the house for a snack. Christian picked a tub of strawberries and Max picked a full sheet cake with bright balloons and “Happy Birthday” written across the top.
As we walked out of Costco, we noticed a Circuit City across the parking lot and since we obviously needed a new TV (What? That wasn’t obvious to you?) we spent three hours in Circuit City making very critical decisions about screen sizes, surround speakers and cabling. Note to self: I do not enjoy buying TVs.
By the time we finally drove to our new house, it was late afternoon and I was beyond tired.
“Where are all the new friends?” Max asked from the backseat at some point.
“I don’t know,” I said. “We’ll meet them soon enough.”
I couldn’t have been more right. As we pulled up to our house, we noticed that our driveway was filled with a small group of kids—boys and girls of a variety of ages. They looked a little embarrassed that we were pulling in and started to scatter. I rolled my window down and practically hung my entire body out while calling, “Hi! We’re the new people! Don’t run away! We’re lonely! We have cake!”
Or something like that.
The next few hours were practically magical. The kids stayed and met our kids and introduced them to other kids. And out of the houses wandered the parents of the kids to introduce themselves. I want to use the words “friendly” and “welcoming” here to describe them, but I’m afraid that my old definition of those terms is such a completely underwhelming way of explaining the very genuine manner in which they took us in and anticipated our needs.
Within 24 hours, I had the names, phone numbers (home, cell, and work), and email addresses of my surrounding neighbors. They supplied us with information about local doctors, dentists, little league sign-ups, and which groceries stores were more economical to shop. They invited us to dinner and introduced us to every other neighbor who has kids the same age as ours.
I can’t tell you how many times before our move we had been warned about the People From the East Coast, as if they were monsters from a scary movie. We’d been told that they were cold, aloof, and incredibly keep-to-themselves-ish. Those people don’t live in my neighborhood. Or maybe they do, and they just hide in their basements because they can’t handle all the friendly neighborliness of the others.
Ryan has spent a couple of days on campus and returns home with a grin on his face every time. He is absolutely thrilled about his job and the people he will work with, and other than someone offering to pay off our student loans, I can’t think of a better reward for twelve arduous years of schooling.
And really, if there was one over-arching theme to the last week or so of my life, it would be a feeling gratitude to our younger selves who worked so hard to provide the exciting opportunity that is lying at our feet. I guess in my heart of hearts, I wasn’t sure that life post-school would feel much different than life in school. It feels different. It feels good.
I will have more to share for sure, but I have to get back to unpacking and smacking myself in the forehead for keeping seven copies of O Magazine from 2004.
Looking for pictures? You can (always) check out my recent photos here on my Flickr account.