By the summer of 2004, we had sold one of our two houses (no double mortgages), churned out all the kids we intended to (no notion of breeding a full soccer team), and come to acceptance of our family’s quirks (plenty of dysfunction, but no crazy Aunt Millicent tied to a chair in the attic).
Obviously, if everything was going so swimmingly, it was time to create a whole new kind of hassle.
So we moved 100 yards.
Take a moment now, if you would, to look around your house. See that heavy sleeper sofa? See that fragile antique vanity? See those bookshelves weighted with encyclopaedias? See those closets bursting with unused fabric, tchotckes, and bedding?
Now picture picking up each and every one of those things, walking the length of a soccer field (by the way, guess where I’m sitting as I type this?), and then setting it down again.
The kids' playhouse moved better with wheels under it...
Yea, we humped our masses of possessions all of 300 feet…in July, of course. This assured that every piece of furniture would be coated with sweat during the short trip, thus affording our friends and moving helpers a much-needed challenge. Many of them would be missing their daily workouts, what with devoting hours to our cause; thus, we felt, somehow, that we were aiding their fitness efforts by making sure the move was a hot and strenuous one.
Okay, the backstory. A year and a half earlier, we had met some neighbors—a lovely young couple who would have assisted each other easily to goal after goal on the soccer field, had they, you know, played soccer--and scored an invitation to dinner at their house. That evening, when we showed up for dinner and walked through the front door, I exclaimed, with my usual reserve, “I love, luv, luff your house! If you ever decide to move, you’ll let us have it, right?” Artificial laughter sprinkled all around, and that was the end of it.
...until the phone rang a year and a half later. It was Lady Neighbor, and she queried, “So. When you said you’d love to have our house, were you serious?”
Good question. Of course I hadn’t been, but when presented with the option of buying their house, since they had decided to seek out greener hillsides in the Pacific Northwest, I realized I could learn to be serious about getting the four of us out of our 960 square feet and into something more than twice the size.
Discussion ensued. Deliberations deliberated. Beers were drunk. Offsides were called.
Then we went over and walked through the possible house. And we swooned a little at the Arts & Crafts touches, looking past the orange shag carpet, the dark wooden paneling, the frosted windows. We walked the circle of the main floor; we admired the large bedrooms. We sighed. We ran our fingers along the woodwork.
In short order, we made an offer, contingent (never again would we pay two mortgages and raise children on The Scurvy Diet!) on selling our current house. These very fine people didn’t even counter but rather accepted our first offer.
The wait began. Could our realtor manage to convince some young guileless couple that 960 feet was just the right footage in which to start their own soccer team?
To distract ourselves from the tension of keeping a house “showable” with two small kids around (“No, Girl, you may not play dollies. Sit quietly in the corner with your toy sponge and practice that mopping technique Mommy showed you. No, Wee Niblet, you may not throw your toys and food out of the high chair, as potential buyers could be peeking in the windows. Use your chubby toddler paws and hang onto the broom Mommy has inserted into them. Make yourself useful, Lug”), we went to the playground a lot. And we attended my college reunion.
How on earth it had been fifteen years since I had graduated from college was a mystery to me because, surely, clearly, I wasn’t a day over twenty-four.
But as long as I’d been invited to a weekend of revelry, I was game for going along with the pretense that I was thirty-seven.
What was gorgeous about that reunion was how the comfort and history and familiarity of the place and people grounded me at the time when, in daily life, I didn’t know what was coming next (a soccer ball to the skull, for all I knew). We all lapsed into the roles, speech patterns, and ways of conversing that had become habit half a lifetime before.
Yup. That's me there, ya eagle eye!
In the midst of that easy companionship, reaching back to some of the most invigorating years of my life, I didn’t care where I’d live the next month or if my kids ever got their own rooms (picture it if we didn't move: Brother and Sister Share a Room: The Teen Years: “Mommy, why does Girl put that strappy thing over her chest every morning before she puts on her shirt?” or “Mommy, why do you change Niblet’s sheets every morning after he spends some special quiet time laying in the bed?”).
Nope. I didn't care 'bout nuthin'. I just loved my friends and drinking and dancing and rocking out and the feeling of my feet on hallowed ground. I regressed even further and was 18 again.
Naturally, once Reunion was over, Monday rolled around again, and with it, real life; back at home, I fretted over selling our small house so that we could move over one street—the 100 yards to bliss. As well, acting 18 again during the light of day quickly got embarrassing, especially when I kept insisting the clerks check my ID at the liquor store when no one--I mean no one--was asking.
Still aglow from reunionizing, and finally starting to detoxify, I had occasion to shine my face up to the sun and thank the gods of Home Upgrade (a bellicose crew, the triad of Scrape, Sand, and Varnish) for their blessings. Our damn house sold, to a young couple, looking to create their own wee Beckham.
Shortly thereafter, we moved the 100 yards. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!
Here, now, 100 yards away from our previous house, life is lovely. Gracious. A place that will--knock U-Haul--witness my first grey hairs.
Not that I have any.
Nor will I for some time yet.
After all, I’m only 24.