Lesbian and Gay Parenting book coverIn a Family Way

A column by Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Moving Day

Posted By on July 1, 2009

Moving Day
By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Between the ages of 17 and 38 I probably moved well over fifteen times, perhaps as many as twenty, and some years it might have been as often as twice a year. (I really should know the exact number because when you fill out paperwork for adoptions you need to list every single residence you’ve ever had in your life. I can barely remember all the cities I’ve lived in, let alone all the streets and address numbers!)

When I had my first son, I had just bought my first house. It was a sweet cottage, with three small bedrooms, but clearly large enough for the two of us. Over the next five years I acquired a live-in lover and another baby, in addition to the two dogs, a cat, and assorted tropical fish tanks. Clearly, we had outgrown the cottage. (I used to have an image while we were moving yet another item of furniture, or a large box filled with immense children’s accouterments — i.e., doorway bouncy seats, baby safe swings, play "yards" as they now call playpens–, INTO the house, of things being pushed and squeezed into the front door, and other things pushed and falling out the back door.)

I know that we are packrats. Chalk it up to being the children of parents raised during the Depression, who were the children of parents who survived the Cossacks. We always have extra boxes of macaroni and cans of tuna "just in case." We save small spools to thread, old Halloween signs, any pictures our children have ever drawn, and all sizes of clothes that might fit somebody someday, you never know. We, of course, can never find any of these things when we need them, but we have them, somewhere, just in case.

It took us two months to pack. I know that sounds crazy, but we have two children, and about six jobs between us. Friends eventually stopped asking us if we’d moved in already, because the answer involved listening to the list of things we had to do in order to move in (paint the new house, pack the old house, baby proof the new house, rent the old house). Finally, the movers came. We moved about one mile away from where we used to live, and it took the movers over ten hours to complete the move. The entire dining room is filled to the ceiling of stuff for the "garage sale." My honey fell off the porch carrying all the fragile things we didn’t want the movers to move ("I forgot there was a step there," she said).

The first night in the new house, I couldn’t find a diaper anywhere. The baby and I walked from room to room; he kept repeating "poopy diaper," while we tore through boxes trying to find the missing diaper bag. That night while the children slept, we were awakened by a huge crash, the sound of boxes of books the movers had piled way too high, crashing down, nearly missing two sleeping children.

Despite the fact that we are still in boxes two weeks later, and my statements that I may never move again, as in ever, I am here for the duration, this move was definitely the right thing to do.  It is a wonderfully large house (We can’t even hear each other when we yell for each other room to room, such joy.) The kids are setting in just fine. "I like the new house," says the two-year old, in his measured voice, emphasis on the word "like." "It’s all right," says the six-year old, not willing to invest too strongly in anything. "It’s great," says my partner, as she unpacks our spools of thread and Halloween decorations.

Moving is one thing, but "making a home" as my grandmother would say, is a whole other thing. However, I knew we were really settling in when I heard my honey sigh loudly from the other room after dropping the kids off to school. "Ohhhh," she said. "What is it?" I asked concerned about her swollen ankle from the fall off the porch. "We have peanut butter door, "she said. "Peanut butter door?" I asked. "Yes," she said, "Peanut butter door." And then she showed me. The entire front door was smeared with peanut butter, complete with sticky handprints. We are home.