Life in Boxes

We donated half a dozen bags of clothes, made mountains of trash. Talked well into the night about paint colors and furniture, fences and fixtures. Filled cardboard boxes and Rubbermaid bins with pots and pans, Halloween decor, books, and DVDs. Cried over leaving the place where Comet lived and died, where we finally became homeowners.

We held our breath during inspections and appraisals, ranted about the intense scrutiny of obtaining a loan. Dreamed about all we could do with the proceeds from the sale of our first home and visited Ikea nearly every weekend for a month.

From December 14th through December 16th, J and I left our first home for the last time and moved into a new house twelve miles from where we grew up.

It is a bigger house, with a huge yard. It is a quiet neighborhood on a dead-end street. There is a stunning view of the back yard and towering trees from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the expansive living room.

The bathroom and kitchen need to be totally remodeled, and in the spring we’ll put up a fence for our dogs. There are some days where it feels like there is endless work to be done and we long for the consistency and familiarity of our old house.

But this is what we’ve wanted for some time now, what we’ve searched for and strived for over the better part of a year.

The first few days here were both incredibly long and startling short at the same time. The movers we hired handled things at a startingly quick pace, and our old house was emptied and barren in no time. I expected the tears to come for days before they finally did, just a few minutes before locking the back door for the last time.

Our old house, with its narrow, awkward halls and spaces, with its tiny backyard and uncomfortably close neighbors had lots of charm too. Our bedroom was massive — we didn’t truly realize how massive until we wedged our king-sized bed into our new bedroom — as was the guest room. We had beautiful, original woodwork and pretty French doors. There was a decorative fireplace, an expansive attic, and a new dishwasher. Oh, a dishwasher.

The bathroom in the new house was probably last remodeled in the eighties. Though dated, it was functional, but J had to replace the shower head after only three days because the old one essentially only sprayed water at the back wall. The tiny, apartment-sized dishwasher does not work, and the microwave only works intermittently. We’ve discovered rogue wires and questionable outlets, light switches that don’t seem to flick on any bulb, and a cream-colored, beaded dress hanging silently in the hall closet. It’s been a learning curve having to take the dogs out on their leashes each time to do their business, but we keep promising them that a fence will be constructed as soon as spring arrives.

But the Ikea furniture has finally been assembled and our new bedroom is beginning to feel cozy and familiar; both of us have been sleeping soundly. The dogs love playing in the extra space in the huge living room and gazing out the windows. We’ve had squirrels and deer stop by to visit, as well as a neighbor who gave us a Christmas card and a pretty seasonal decoration.

It’s nice to have an open, double-wide driveway where we don’t have to maneuver a crowded alley in order to park, and there’s so much closet space I’m not sure what to do with it all. The windows let in plenty of natural light, and the refinished hardwood floors shine beneath our feet and paws. Laundry is a cinch thanks to our huge, high-capacity, high-efficiency washer and dryer, and I cannot wait to finally have my own office where I can read and write and store my massive collection of books.

Christmas arrived more abruptly than normal, considering we moved only ten days before the big event. Somehow we managed to buy gifts at the last minute, mostly thanks to the Hallmark store at the shopping center down the street. I even snagged a potted pine tree on clearance and decorated it with a few red and green bulbs. We’ve decided to plant it in our yard after the holiday, where hopefully it’ll grow for years to come.

My writing has, of course, suffered since this whole process began in October. With so much to do and so little focus, I decided to give myself a break so I could fully concentrate on the migration, packing, and logistics. I do have some big news though — I was the winner of the 2021 Children of Steel writing contest, awarded for the short story I wrote about growing up in a steel town. It won’t be published until sometime in January, but this was a huge deal because it was my very first time getting paid for my writing and the amount was nothing to sneeze at. In fact, I think it may just be enough to get J and I to Holland to see our friends that moved there in 2019. At the beginning of 2021, I set a goal to land my first paid writing job, and even though it didn’t happen until there were only three weeks left in the year, I am incredibly proud and thankful.

The writing bug is starting to creep back now that we’re officially in our new home, and although there’s still boxes to unpack, walls to be painted, and neighbors to become acquainted with, I’m trying to get back in the habit of sitting down at the keyboard for at least a little bit of each day.

So many projects floating around in my brain — home improvement, novels, queries, and short stories alike.

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