Moving ...

We're 10 suitcase-loads, 4 backpack-loads and 6 tote-bag loads in, and that covers all the books except for a few of Finn's, most of the clothes, most of the toys, and 3/4 of the kitchen stuff.

I've had this crazy idea to move without boxes, and that's basically what we've done. What I find so tiring about a move is all the days spent surrounded by boxes upon boxes, on both the front and the back ends. So since we had a week of overlap between the two apartments, and since it's really quite close--a short and cheap cab ride--what if we just shuttled suitcase loads back and forth, putting stuff away as we unloaded it? It's working so far, in large part because the new place is furnished, so even before we move our furniture there are shelves and drawers to contain what we bring.

It's a lot of work, to be sure, but I'm thinking it's a bit saner overall. Basically Matt takes a load over on his way to school, then Finn and I bring another load later in the day. We then unload and put away the day's delivery, and take the empties back home. We still get to go for walks, go to the pool, eat dinner at home, watch movies, AND we're not tripping over boxes!

I have, of course, primarily spent the week feeling nostalgic and sad about leaving this flat, despite my initial misgivings last year. I'm always sad to leave a place I've lived in, no matter how short a time, and no matter how much (or little) I liked it. If I've lived there, then things have happened there--I've felt feelings, imagined futures, eaten meals, laughed and cried. Books and recipes get imbued with the place in which I read them or cook them, and when I return to those books or those meals, details and senses from that place come flooding back.

And so it is here: Swedish pancakes will forever remind me of learning to cook in our wok, Finn has learned to crawl, to stand, to speak here, Obama was elected here, and The Wire is for me as much about dumplings on our tiny bed in Hong Kong as about gangs in west Baltimore.

It's our last day here, so you'll have to forgive a bit of sentimentality, as I think about all the things I will miss about this place. Generally it's the little things, the physical details that take time to get noticed, that linger longest. Things like:

  • Lovely evening light on our terrace

  • A well-lit kitchen--pleasant enough for late-night wash-up, bright enough for chopping.

  • A well-lit bathroom--pleasant enough for mirror close-ups, bright enough for reading in the tub.

  • Kitchen cupboards that open to reveal sunny yellow interiors.

  • The cleaning pleasures of built-in beds--no dust bunnies under or around.

And then we come to things I'll miss about our building. We've been a bit embarrassed at times about how luxurious this building is, and though we haven't lived here long enough that we need these luxuries, we sure will miss them.

  • Regular night swims after dinner. My summers in Canada and years in New England taught me to love swimming in lakes, ponds and rivers, and even to disdain (a little) chlorine. But swimming at night, with underwater lights in a variegated green-tiled pool, is simply lovely.

  • Decorations for every holiday and every season. Right now, there are lanterns galore for Mid-Autumn festival. The decor is mostly tasteful and a little tacky, but always cheerful. As one who thrives on rhythms, routines and traditions, I love living in a place that decorates.

  • And lastly, our wonderful doormen and women. Leaving them just about breaks my heart, as ridiculous as that is, given that I only know the name of one of them, and he, likewise, only knows Matt's and Finn's names, but not mine. They are, nonetheless, chief members of the small club of people that Finn knows on sight and runs to greet. They are the closest thing we have to neighbors--people who see us everyday, and probably know more about us and our lives than we realize. Some days last fall, their smiles and small talk were the only contact I had outside of my family, and I took refuge in their kindness. (And just to be clear, this small talk generally consisted of only a very few words: "raining," "going shopping?" "swimming?" "hot," "very hot," and most often, "oh, good boy" or "very good boy").

Right now I am taking refuge in knowing that as surely as I feel sad today, I will feel sad when it comes time to leave our new home. New lovely details will give our days beauty, new scents and sights will mean "home," and new neighbors will delight in Finn's smile and commiserate with us about the weather. Goodbye, flat 18E, 632 King's Road. We pray that some of our happiness here has seeped into the walls and will bless whoever sleeps here next.

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