Moving on — Three houses, two apartments, one year

It had been a made-for-TV kind of year
Proud Delaware homeowners.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Proud Delaware homeowners.

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Early December 2017 and hah! I’d done it. I’d crammed a recap of my family’s entire year onto a sheet of candy-cane-bordered printer paper. Plus, I’d managed to word it so it didn’t sound like a reality TV transcript. That was a quite a challenge. It had been a made-for-TV kind of year. 

In case your copy of my 2017 recap got lost in the mail, here’s the gist: 

January 2017: Husband Michael loses his job in Halfmoon, while we’re putting two kids through college; a nail-biting job search ensues.

March: Michael starts a job in Maryland. Our Glenville home goes on the market; basement floods the next day; home goes off the market.

April: Glenville home goes back on the market.

May: We negotiate the house sale from North Carolina, in the middle of son Christopher’s college graduation ceremony. I quit my full-time job.  

Read more stories from Fall Home 2018.June: Daughter Emily and I join Michael in an apartment near his new workplace. Our possessions go into storage.

July: We purchase a house in nearby Delaware.

August: We clean, paint, unpack, rewire, switch out New York driver’s licenses for Delaware ones. 

September: Emily heads to college in Massachusetts. 

October: We haul out the Halloween decorations, light cozy fires in the fireplace.

November: I can finally find a few places without the GPS! I order 250 labels with our new address on them. 

I mailed my annual update out well before Christmas, so all of our holiday-card-sending friends would have our new address. But before the letters ever reached their destination, we found out we were moving again. We had been in our new house five months. 

No, I’m not kidding. 

Michael was offered an impossible-to-refuse promotion — in Connecticut — and was expected at his new post in early January. We spent the holidays convincing friends, family and ourselves that this wasn’t just a bad joke. Then we started packing.

FALL HOME 2018 (Photo provided by Kelly de la Rocha: Family gathers for Thanksgiving in the kitchen of their Glenville home.)

So, here’s how the 2018 recap is shaping up: 

January 2018: Michael moves into a Connecticut hotel and starts his job. The Delaware house sells in one day. We move to a Connecticut apartment. Our possessions go back into storage.

February: We make an offer on a house; house fails inspection; we back out of the deal. 

March: We purchase a house that doesn’t have quite as many things wrong with it.

April: We paint walls, rehab flooring, have locks rekeyed, unpack boxes. I go on a two-week mission trip to Africa, then unpack more boxes.

May: I plant flowers and herbs. Emily comes home from college to a house she’s never lived in.

June: We hang pictures on the walls, get a kitten. (Why not?)


July: I can finally find a few places without using the GPS!

August: We switch out Delaware driver’s licenses for Connecticut ones. Emily leaves for a semester in Italy. The house is too quiet.

September: We find out we’re moving AGAIN!

Just kidding. 

For now, it appears we’ll stay put. I still feel a little skittish, but it looks like the physical part of moving is behind us. Now comes the hard part — making the latest roof and four walls feel like home. 

This new house, perched on the edge of a Connecticut ridge, is lovely. It’s got open, airy spaces and antique windows that send rainbows dancing on the walls when the sun hits them just right. Designed to look like a barn, it’s tucked between tall oaks, with a view of miles of rolling countryside. Hawks circle, sometimes at eye level, and the occasional black bear trundles through our yard. Our deck offers front row seats for the sunset. Visitors tend to say, “wow,” the first time they step outside. I still say it pretty much every day. 

But this Connecticut house will never replace our old Glenville farmhouse with a pretty view of tall trees, where family lived just around the corner and friends lived down the road. It will never be dressed in Christopher’s skateboarding stickers or Emily’s old fishing trophies. This house holds no memories of the first day of school, of September Slip ‘N Slide birthday parties, of prom pictures taken by lilac bushes. I mourn for all of those things and so many more. 

But we must begin again. 

I have to admit, this Connecticut house is growing on me. Beside our front door now hangs a cowbell ornament, a gift from my childhood friend Julie. It’s the perfect accessory for a barn-house. Rhubarb plants, brought to us by Pennsylvania friend Tammy, now thrive near the stone wall out front. The pot of flowers Lisa brought from New Jersey makes me smile every time I come in the side door. The living room is beautifully decorated, thanks to our friend Kim’s artful eye. And longtime neighbor, Elsa, brought us Perreca’s bread, to remind us of home — our New York home.

We have made some new friends here, too — Julie and Michael, who live right next door. They bring us food, share their expertise, make us laugh and invite us to watch the sunset from their hot tub. They were our sole guests at a recent birthday celebration and their cheerful presence made it really felt like a party. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch new memories settling comfortably all around this place.

Not long ago, Emily and I were visiting Glenville. She told me she’d like to stay longer but had to get home because she had a lot to finish up before her Italy trip. She said home, and she meant our Connecticut house. She said home, and for the first time in so long, that word sounded right, like something warm I could wrap around my shoulders, like something I could hold onto.

Home.

We begin again. 

Former Gazette reporter and Glenville resident Kelly de la Rocha now lives in Farmington, Connecticut. Reach her at [email protected].

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