When I was a kid, we moved from the house I’d been born in (except nobody is actually born in homes anymore, but you know what I mean…from the time I was about three days old until many years later, we lived in this house) to the house where my mother, sister, and nephew still live. While that house is probably more accurately the house I grew up in, in our family, it’s still the new house. The old house is the old house.
Because I was eight years old and still small when we moved out of the old house, my memories are of it having huge rooms, a long, sunny backyard, and an endless basement with weird closets and a terrifying coal chute. Of course, I’ve driven past that house since I’ve become an adult, and it’s not nearly as big as I remember it. Excepting the bathroom (which my mother says was almost too small to turn around in, even though all I remember about it is standing over the floor vent after a bath and letting the warm hair tent out my towel like a teepee, also there was one time when my sister took a dump in the bathtub and I lost. My. Mind.), the house had only four rooms. I know they were big to me because I was little, but if I remember everything in scale, it had to be a tight fit for two kids, two adults, and their pets.
Side note – while I haven’t been in the house since we left it, I dream about it pretty often. I’ve heard of people dreaming about walking through their childhood homes and seeing strangers living there, but I’ve never had that dream. In my dreams about the old house, I’m renting it or have bought it back, and everything has become very run down and also there’s a demon living in the attic.
You know. How things usually are in your childhood home.
Anyway, my parents lived in that house because my dad’s great-grandmother had willed the mortgage to him when she died. I never asked them exactly why they decided to move, but I remember the year we did as the same year that a girl from the next neighborhood was abducted, raped, and murdered. It wasn’t a very good neighborhood before, but after that, we weren’t allowed more than a few houses down the block in either direction. Plus I guess it was convenient to live closer to our school.
We moved in February, and I remember this because it was fucking freezing, and it kept flurrying because it was too cold to just snow. I helped carry small stuff from people’s vans into the new house, and later that night, we all made one last trip in the truck to bring the animals and the refrigerator food to the new house. I remember this so vividly for some reason; our dog panting and happy on the floor, one cat pissed and growling in my mom’s arms, and me, holding a gallon of milk in my lap and being nervous that it would spoil by the time we got there even though we were moving within the same ZIP code.
These days, that gallon of milk won’t get out of my head. While the bulk of the house is packed up or will be shortly, I’m trying to work out when I’m supposed to get the cold food over to the new place. I’m already taking the cats, the litter box, and the vacuum over there once the movers and Graham have gone. I can’t possibly be expected to wrangle food out of the car, too, at least not when I’m trying to prevent the cats from escaping when I open the door. Neither of them is smart enough to avoid major roadways.
So I guess it’s all going over the night before. For one night, we’ll have nothing in our fridge except for cold water, and while I can handle being without things like shampoo or toothpaste or TV for a few hours, I find myself weirdly anxious about there being nothing in the fridge. Nevermind that takeout and delivery are blocks/no more than an hour away. Nevermind that I will have voluntarily eaten as much from the freezer as possible already (last night’s dinner was Greek meatballs and some mayacoba bean tamales, if that makes sense, which I know it doesn’t, and today’s is carrot sticks and a frozen Ding Dong, which makes only marginally more sense). There’s some panic-bred survival instinct in there somewhere that knows the shit is going down and the sky is falling and there’s no preserved food anywhere.
Although I suppose that it will feel like a luxury to not have to purchase all new food again, which is what I’ve done for five out of my seven lifetime moves. And let me tell you, it feels a lot better to spend money on a delivered pizza just after you move rather than hundreds of dollars in groceries that you have to carry up the stairs.