It’s Back! Another one from the Rejection Collection

 This one is still warm. Hoped to get a “yes” this birthday week, but so it goes. Plenty of things to be thankful for as we move into countdown mode for a family Thanksgiving. The theme for this piece was “Moving.” 
In Three Moves 
December 4, 1977
My husband and I rented a truck and bribed  family and friends with pizza and beer to help us load it up. We’d be leaving our little apartment on the corner of Jackson and Solano in Albany, and moving to San Jose for his new job as a lawyer. We called our cozy downstairs apartment in the white clapboard four-plex  “our honeymoon love nest,” since we’d moved there as newlyweds four years earlier.
For us, two East Bay natives, this would be a big step—our first real move away from home.
Guys with strong backs hauled our furniture into the big orange truck as I stood to the side, ten days before my due date in a stretched-to-the-limit Beethoven sweatshirt.
Baby definitely onboard. I miss that sweatshirt…

We didn’t have much to move: a green love-seat from Sears; a rocking chair I’d bought unfinished at Gorman’s on Telegraph, which I’d stained a dark walnut; my husband’s great-aunt’s chair which we’d had reupholstered after our three cats scratched most of its threads loose; a hand-me-down kitchen table and chairs; a dresser that I’d painted a deep blue; and a kitchen full of almost new houseware we’d received for our wedding. And a cradle, finished to match the rocking chair, that would go in the nursery of our rental house in San Jose.
The timing for me couldn’t have been better. No one expected me to lift anything, and I was already in full nesting mode. Before we said goodbye to Jackson Street, we sat on our hardwood floor and cried together. We were leaving behind our first home, but we were also leaving behind a life of just two—if you didn’t count our three cats.
Love seat, with Kinky Roul the kitten

October, 1991
“Can we help you move?” Several friends offered to help us relocate to a rental home in Moraga after we’d lost our house in the fire. “Sure,” I’d replied. “Do you have room in your car for a paper bag?”  The sum of our possessions added up to about five grocery bags full of clothes and photo albums. A few toiletries purchased in haste the first night, the clothes on our backs, the bird’s cage, a couple of stuffed animals for the kids, my daughter’s backpack full of her school books, one son’s tap shoes and another’s yellow quilt. We had plenty of room in one car to make that move on our own.
January 29, 1993.
After nine months of construction back in Oakland, our rebuilt house was almost finished. Even though the painters were doing touchups and other workmen were still around, we packed up all the things we’d managed to accumulate since the fire. No beer and pizza bribes this time, though. We needed others—professionals, with strong, young backs and a very large truck—to make our big move.
In just over one year, we’d managed to fill our rented house with furniture and possessions: four bedrooms, a kitchen—complete now, with beds, dressers, clothes in closets and drawers, pots and pans, dishes and glasses, tables and chairs, books, computers, a TV,  stereo, and music. The house felt full.  But it was, finally, time to go home.
Moving day began with our last morning drive to school, from Moraga to Oakland, during which my daughter read to her brothers from Winnie the Pooh. We stopped in Montclair to get bagels from Noah’s for lunch, and then I dropped the kids off. I told the boys they could walk home from school—just across the street—to our new house.
I circled back to the rental house and my husband and I watched the last of our things getting loaded into the truck. We didn’t sit on the parquet floor and think about what the future would bring. No one shed a tear. The house had provided a haven and a respite, but it never felt like home. I couldn’t imagine going back to look at it fondly one day—as I do with our first place in Albany every now and again— and I never have.
While the kids were at school, the movers unloaded the truck. I’d done my best to have everything in place when they arrived home. I wanted to have a real homecoming for them—something they’d remember. The workmen in the house felt the excitement too. They went about their jobs that afternoon, anticipating the return of the family, as we prepared to move into the house they’d built for us.
When the final school bell rang at 3:05, the boys ran up the block and stood on the front porch, hopping with excitement.  I opened the door and let them in.
“We’re home! We’re finally home!” they said, and ran around the house to see everything. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the contractors wiping away tears.
And now, in a flash, we’re back to two. It only took three moves and thirty-five years to get here.

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10 Responses to It’s Back! Another one from the Rejection Collection

  1. As a child I moved every 3 years or so for a variety of reasons, so the word “home” is especially meaningful to me. I can’t imagine the emotional devastation, not to mention the loss of all of your “stuff” after the fire. Your post reminded me of how lucky I am to have lived in my home and raised my children here for the past 22 years. Really lovely.

  2. ~Kc Waddell says:

    What a wonderful story — although scary at times. I can’t imagine losing everything to a fire. You certainly could feel the boys excitement as they came running “home”. I bet it will always be “home” to them no matter how old they get.

  3. Terry says:

    It’s hard to even imagine losing it all to a fire. But this post shows that home is really where you all are together. I moved many times as a Navy wife during the first half of my adult life and each time was wrenching. It got worse when we had children and they also had to say goodbye to friends and their home. It has made us all resilient though! But now that they are settled I don’t see my daughters constantly on the move as they were as children. They seem to have had enough of that!

  4. Risa Nye says:

    Terry, those moves sound difficult! And my kids have told me that they will never have “a lot of stuff” after losing everything and realizing it just doesn’t matter that much.

  5. So beautiful, Risa. This brought goosebumps. Home is such a marvelous place in the heart, and you’ve captured it perfectly here. Some homes have it, some (like your rental) don’t. Sweet piece. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Kaye Swain says:

    Oh my goodness! That reminds me of when one of my kids was expecting a sweet grandchild of mine. We helped them move a week after the baby – NOT very easy for her but full of fun memories. Thank you for the fun reminder 🙂

  7. Risa Nye says:

    Kaye–moving after the baby sounds way harder! Thanks for stopping by.

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