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Disengaging

August 19, 2012

It’s been an emotional weekend at Spy Headquarters.Yesterday Mr. PQV came over with a van early in the morning and we loaded it up with 11 or 12 of our bookshelves and some other furniture.  We tried for a sofa too, but the van was having none of it.  Still, it’s nice knowing our bookshelves are going to a good home.  I can’t think of people who will appreciate them more than the PQV family.

AJ was out of sorts afterwards. He’s been the best divester in the house, but I think the chaos of moving gets to him more than the rest of us (which is saying something, because it makes us all crabby). He had a meltdown and then went off to a friend’s house where he recovered his humor.  I cleaned his room while he was gone, getting rid of all the grime kicked up by the moving furniture, neatening his small stack of books. He came back and said, “It doesn’t look as weird as I thought.”

But it is weird. All of it.

Today we got rid of two sofas. We freecycled the one I bought when AJ was two.  You can read about the process of getting it here andhere and also here. This made Mr. Spy sad because he and AJ have always played games in the family room after dinner that have involved hurling themselves on that sofa.  It’s held up amazingly well.

This afternoon, a bunch of Mr. Spy’s relatives came over. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law helped me pack up the ktichen. And AJ’s elder brother and wife came by with my niece, who has just moved into her first apartment, to pick up our futon sofa and some dishware.  We hugged everyone goodbye.  The ones we won’t see before we go — my brother-in-law and his family — promised to visit us in New York.  The others cried when they left. This is hard on everyone. Mr. Spy comes from a family that is not used to people leaving.

It’s enough to make you lose your nerve.  I was doing fine until a friend said he’d come over tomorrow and take our porch furniture set, a dumpy old trio of Adirondack furniture that I bought at a yard sale when we first moved here.  I couldn’t care less about the furniture, but I’m going to miss the porch.  I stood there looking out at the lawn, the blooming rudbeckia and phlox and Rose of Sharon, the green lawn.  It feels like fall, my favorite time of year here.  It’s the closest I’ve come to weeping.

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The thing is, no matter how much you gain, there is always loss.  I think the hardest thing about this move — indeed, every move we’ve made as a family — is that while we think we’re going somewhere good, we’re not going somewhere better than what we’re leaving.  We’ve gone for dramatic changes, moving from a loft in Chicago’s Loop to a bucolic house in the exurbs to a small apartment in the heart of Brooklyn.  We are not short on adventure, but nor are we short on sentiment. And the combination can be challenging.  Ultimately, I think moving is a good thing for people to do sometimes.  It’s hard as hell, but it’s also clarifying in many ways.  I like to shake up my routines every now and then, to find new ways of being in the world, to see new things in the way you can only do when you live somewhere, when you take it on, embracing all of it:  the good, the bad and the ugly.

When you are leaving, though, there is no bad and no ugly.  There is only the good and perfect version, the ideal that you bought into when you made the decision to move there in the first place.  In a little over week, it will only be memory.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2012 8:21 pm

    When I reach the point in the process of divesting when I feel like weeping, I try to sound as much like Bernadette Peters as possible while wailing “It’s not the money, it’s the stu-uuff!”

  2. August 19, 2012 8:26 pm

    I’m following your moving posts closely. In the next few years I’ll likely face a similar decision regarding a move to fit in with career goals. It’s both exciting to think about reinventing the way we live and scary to consider upending things. I wish you all the best in New York. And, I have to ask, have you settled on a school?

  3. August 19, 2012 9:23 pm

    LSM, we have two options for school. One is to try to get him into one of the stellar public magnet middle schools in the area. There’s one in particular that looks like a very good fit for him. But it’s also fairly large and requires a commute that involves a subway and a train change. And there’s no guarantee he’ll get in. We can’t register him for public school until the day after Labor Day, which is also the day before school starts. We’re not sure we can live with that kind of uncertainty. Also, AJ is feeling nervous about the whole idea and is leaning towards going to the smaller Catholic school just four blocks from our apartment. It’s also a good school, though not quite as good as the public school. However, class sizes are smaller, it’s closer to home, has a drop-in aftercare program (something we’ll need occasionally but not all the time) and i can probably do something about enrolling him on Tuesday when they reopen after their summer hiatus. Because AJ’s processing so many new things all at once, we’re leaning towards doing that, even though it would be nice not to have to pay tuition (although Catholic schools are still an amazing bargain in the tuition department — between $5,000 and $6,000/year). Catholic school will be new too, but a smaller school might feel a little friendlier to him. We’d then probably try to switch him the following year. Some of the elite NYC public high schools start in 7th grade and the entrance test would be this fall. We hear since he hasn’t been prepping for that for the last few years that he might no make it, but we might give it a try.

  4. August 20, 2012 7:37 am

    I think if you squeeze your eyes shut really tight, put your fingers in your ears and continually mumble something like “I can’t see you.. I can’t see you” that when you open them you find that it is all over.

  5. August 20, 2012 8:03 am

    I am finding some reassurance in reading old posts by Alice Bradley at http://www.finslippy.com/blog. A few years ago, when she and her family of three were living in Brooklyn, they bought a house in the suburbs. A few months later, they sold the house and moved back to Brooklyn. The suburbs weren’t for them. I remember reading these posts when it happened and thinking that it took guts to turn around and admit defeat. And they were so happy when they returned. They are still there, living, I think, in our new neighborhood. The things Alice talked about missing and not missing are the same things we are thinking about. I hadn’t read Finslippy in a while but revisited a few days ago and found that she was sketching chimneys on her roof. Note to self: pack colored pencils.

  6. freshhell permalink
    August 20, 2012 8:52 am

    I was thinking about this this morning. I think, for AJ, this move will come at the right time even though it doesn’t seem like it now. He spent the first 11 years in a neighborhood perfect for those ages. Now, as he’s growing up and out, he’ll be learning his way around Brooklyn and NYC. I think, after he’s settled in, he’ll find it pretty interesting and exciting. And despite the close quarters, you’ll all have lots of new places to go – parks and museums, etc. – in close proximity. No more digging out of 500 ft of snow in the winter. No more trees falling and taking out your electricity. No more flooded streams running under your house.

    I do love that screened in porch. I wish I had one again but……well, everything’s a trade-off in life.

  7. August 21, 2012 9:29 pm

    It sounds like you have some good school options. I’m also willing to bet AJ would do just fine on those entrance tests.

  8. drgeek permalink
    August 24, 2012 9:22 am

    I like your notion of embracing “the good, the bad, and the ugly” when it comes to new ways of living and being in the world. It’s a thing that I try to remember myself as I try to find my way through my own, somewhat less radical, change of place and routine.

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