We moved this past weekend. Not too far, just down the street, but the work involved in changing houses is incredible. I guess that’s true if you have a lot of things. Or maybe just if you do it yourself. I am trying to remember how many times I’ve moved in the past. After spending my first 17 years in the same house, I wasn’t really used to moving. Now, in the second 17 years of my life, I’ve moved quite a bit.
The move to college is a normal, expected one for an American teen, so maybe that shouldn’t count. My first real move was following college, when I moved an hour from my college town to attend grad school. This was my first apartment, cooking for myself, paying rent, buying furniture, dealing with a landlord. My stuff was minimal, and following two years of grad school, I brought it all back east in a small U-haul trailer attached to my Chevy Lumina, which henceforth overheated in the mountains of PA. But I made it back with all my stuff.
Next it was my first job, and with it, relocating to New Jersey. I actually started my job before finding a place to live, living instead with my former principal’s family. Great people. Good job. Hard to find affordable housing in New Jersey, but eventually, found some roommates and a good apartment right on Main Street in Somerville, right above a Chinese restaurant. Too bad I’m not a big fan of Chinese food. That was my residence for only a year, as my roommate wanted to be closer to New York for her commute, so we moved to Metuchen. A nice town, with a walkable main street. We lived here for three years, before I got married and moved not too far away to Piscataway.
Jayson and I were quite spoiled here. This was the top story of a split level house. We bought some furniture from newspaper ads and set up our first home, temporary as we knew it would be, nicely. It even had a pool in the backyard. Our elderly, widowed landlady lived downstairs. She was an interesting person, hailing from Nazi Germany where she was part of the Nazi Youth movement. She gave some interesting insight into Germany at that time, but was currently a diehard US Republican.
That place housed us for two years before our first overseas move together. In one sense, it is easier to move overseas, because this time, we were limited to four 50-pound suitcases, unless we wanted to pay extra. A couple with no kids and a simple lifestyle didn’t need more than 200 pounds of stuff, so we managed with our allotted luggage. Once in Jordan, we found an apartment and bought furniture and household goods, and moved in. Again, a good place. Looking back, we didn’t realize how nice it was at the time. Ground floor with a play area out back, but of course, we never needed that in Jordan. Now it’s something we think about. Another two years there and we were selling our furniture and household goods, or divvying them up among some of our Jordanian friends, and repacking our four suitcases to head to the states for six months. Another move. This time into a furnished home where we would welcome our first baby before heading back overseas.
A baby can bring with it a lot more stuff! This time we moved overseas with six 50-pound suitcases, although some of them were overweight. This time in Tunisia, we started out in a furnished place in Sfax, the large city in the south of the country. It had its peculiarities including no oven but a large Jacuzzi-like bathtub. Emma slept in our room to begin with, until we convinced our landlord to let us put her crib in their storage room in our house. It was a great place for language-learning as we shared the property with two Tunisian families. Very generous people. Again, we didn’t realize the value of the outside courtyard. A nice, tiled area for kids to run around. But, that place lasted about nine months before we headed north to the capital and searched high and low for the perfect spot in the suburb of Manouba. After a few days of searching, we realized we needed a ground floor apartment to accommodate our double stroller, and found the perfect spot after a bit. This time it was unfurnished, so, we bought furniture and household goods and set up house again. We anticipated this place being our home for awhile and began to bring things from our storage in America, because of course, we owned more than 300 pounds of stuff. I guess you could call Jayson’s parents’ garage in New Jersey a second home for us since that has housed our things since our first overseas move! As fate would have it, we set up a nice home for only about one year before moving out of Tunisia. Again, selling our stuff, packing more suitcases than we came with; of course, we also added a child in Tunisia … add a child, add more stuff! Back to the states for another six months. This time, we didn’t really move; we just lived with Jayson’s parents.
And then on to Egypt. Our luggage allowance keeps getting bigger as we add more children, but this time, we opted to pay for some extra luggage too. Partly because of the children, partly because of what we’ve learned in the other two countries. Some things are just better and cheaper to bring with you. So, we probably brought about nine 50-pound suitcases this time. We lived in a temporary place for a month, so didn’t really unpack too much, and then onto our current place which was furnished. Only needed to buy minimal house goods. But somehow, now that we’re moving just down the street, that “nine 50-pound suitcases” has multiplied exponentially. All told, we’ve taken 6 carloads and 2 pick-up truck loads of goods to our new place. Again, we added a child. We bought some furniture both for guests, and for ourselves. People have been very generous and given us things … toys, house goods, knick knacks. It all adds up. So why move again with all it entails?
We knew from the time we took our first apartment here in Maadi, that our landlord’s son would take it from us at the end of a year as he anticipated getting married. And so I had a year to look around for apartments. I looked online just about every day to see what was available through Craigslist, since that is how we found our original apartment here. As the summer approached and we narrowed down exactly what we were looking to move into, I started to call realtors and give them our specs. Most of them told me that to find an apartment on the ground floor with a small garden in the neighborhood near Jayson’s work and within our budget was near impossible. However, we stuck with our budget and eventually, a realtor found our new place. The landlord wanted us to take it right away rather than let it sit empty, and our current landlord graciously agreed to let us out of our contract a couple months early. We really felt we needed to grab an apartment when it came available as there is a great influx of foreigners at the end of the summer making the apartment search a bit harder.
And so, we move now. Not the most opportune time in many ways. Less than two months after having a baby, and rearranging our old apartment for our two houseguests, Mom and Mother-in-law, for a month. Right toward the end of World Cup action. In the midst of job transitions for Jayson at work. And in the middle of an Egyptian summer which translates into lots of sweat. But, now is the time, so move we will.
Well, I haven’t counted, but there were lots more moves in my second 17 years compared to my first! And who knows where the next one will be, but I really hope it’s not for a long while now. Funny thing is, my parents are in the process of moving now too. They have been in the same home, my childhood home, for 38 years! Talk about accumulating stuff! Well, we are too far away to help them with their car and truck loads of things, but now that we are in our own new place, I have plenty myself to unpack and arrange!