Moving Story

In with the Old, In with the New: My Moving Story

I barely recognized the house that once held so many hearts’ worth of memories. Family photos and the decorations that had dotted the off-white walls with color now waited in boxes. Most of the furniture had also been loaded up. It was now riding in our Suburban along with my father, my younger sister, our two dogs, and any belongings that could be squeezed between seats. Our pick-up truck was parked in our driveway. It was anticipating the last load of items we’d bring with us during the move.

My family was only moving across town – literally from one side of Bryan, Texas, to the other—but that didn’t matter. I still felt a sense of loss as I helped my mother finish packing and cleaning. I had spent my whole life – sixteen wonderful years – in this simple 35-year-old brick house on a hill.

My mother swore she and my father would live out the rest of their days in it until she received a fateful phone call from a friend in the spring of 2007. Her husband contracted a spec house in a brand-new subdivision near FM 1179. Since it was the first (and only) house there, it was bound to be a good investment. After touring the house one afternoon, my mother never looked back.

As I piled all of my clothes in big black trash bags, I looked around my room for the last time. The realtor had preferred a more neutral tone on the walls, but I thought the blocks of cyan, pumpkin, and mint that I had helped my father paint three years earlier made the room pop like a teenage girl’s should. She would have died if she had seen the bright yellow wallpaper that had covered them before.

These walls had seen all sorts of changes: the nightlight that used to scare away the monsters in the closet; the big canopy bed that provided the perfect play fort for a bunch of giggling girls; the little notes from my crush that I stashed away in my jewelry box.

I dragged the trash bag down the same stairs that my sister and I would hurry down every Christmas morning. The smell of banana muffins baking in the oven would fill the cozy kitchen that was now barren. There were so many people who had come in and out of our kitchen door throughout my life.

Most were children: children of doctors and business people; children of single mothers and alcoholics; children who belonged to youth groups and local sports teams; and children who didn’t feel like they belonged anywhere. As my trash bag of clothes passed over the threshold, my heart bid a reluctant farewell to the only home I’d ever known.

I was not just saying goodbye to a house; I was saying goodbye to my childhood. That old brick house on a hill was just an empty shell now. Then again, so was the new house. It might have been larger and more beautiful than the other one, but it still needed to be filled. Yes, it needed furniture and decorations, but these did not fill a house enough to make it a home: memories did, both those that I carried with me from my old house to and the ones I would make in the new.

This realization helped ease that first move and the moves that came after it, from a college dorm to the apartment in which my husband and I now live. You can also use memories to help yourself settle into a new place. Bring back memories of your old home by unpacking a prized possession right away and going to it often. You’ll associate the warmth and security you feel when thinking about your old home with your current one.

Thumbing through my grandmother’s cookbook gave me something familiar to hold on to in a strange environment. I would think back to all the recipes I made (and botched!) in the kitchen of my childhood home and feel comfortable again. Make new memories by “unplugging” – replacing the time you would normally spend on electronics with other enjoyable activities – during the first weekend after your move.

This decision will not only help you feel happy in your new home, but will also help you adjust to your surroundings more quickly. I couldn’t believe how much free time I had when I didn’t have access to my computer! I chased my boredom away by cooking some of my grandmother’s recipes in our new kitchen. By Sunday I had not only made four batches of muffins in a strange kitchen, but also many stories to be told around the family table.