That’s all the time we have left in Charm City. The movers are coming on the 24th to pack all our possessions into boxes, and they will return on the 25th to load those boxes, and our furniture, into a big, probably enormous, truck. We’ll pack our children and immediately needed possessions into our cars and drive to Cleveland. Sometime in the following days our stuff should arrive.
We’ve been talking about moving for about a year. My husband looked for a job for six months before finding the one he accepted. His current job requested six months notice so they could find a replacement.
Six months is a considerable amount of time to get comfortable with the idea of moving. It was an unusual state of being, maintaining my normal routines of grocery shopping and making Shabbos, of checking out library books and DVDs and returning them (once they’ve finally been located in the black hole which is my house).
“We’re moving, just before Pesach,” I would tell people. But it was still months away, so it didn’t yet touch my life. The move existed only in the abstract.
“Have you started packing yet?” people started asking me recently. I hadn’t. I hadn’t even thought about it, actually. I’d been busy having a baby, and then getting a little sick, but, more honestly, the move still existed somewhere far, far in the future for me. It wasn’t real, not yet.
That’s a little over two weeks
“We should probably start thinking about what we need to pack, what we need to have on hand when we get there,” I mention to my husband. This task will fall nearly solely to me, except for consulting him on which of his items we should pack. I don’t mind that it’s on me. He’s taking care of other important logistical details. I keep telling myself that I should start a list, take out the legal pad and find a pen which still works. Post the list on the fridge. Take the suitcases down from the attic.
We’re arriving in Cleveland nine days before Pesach starts. I have no idea what cleaning or cooking (or ordering of catered food) will need to be done when we get there. Because the move is still mainly living abstractly in my mind, I haven’t consulted with my mother-in-law about any plans for the holiday. Everything is in flux for our family this year, making it very difficult to actually plan anything. This inability to plan makes me anxious, so keeping the move in my mind and not in reality is more comfortable, if impractical.
Five days after the holiday is over we are traveling for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Happily, my brother-in-law is remarrying. The proximity of this happy event to both our move and Pesach makes any chance of me settling into our new house very, very distant.
Whenever I do sit down and make this list I keep telling myself I’ll make, I’m essentially planning a month-long “vacation” for our family. It’s a way to frame it which I think is a realistic approach. It will be about a month before I can truly unpack in earnest, so I will need to plan accordingly. Better to think of it as a vacation than, say, an inconvenience or burden.
Or four hundred and eight hours
All of these necessary details have kept me from thinking about the end of our Baltimore era. We’ve lived here for a little over three years. Three years is just long enough to start to feel comfortable in a place, to develop relationships deep enough to miss. We’ve been happy here. We like the schools, the community, the bustle and the amenities of a large Orthodox population.
But now it’s time to move on. We’re moving back to a city filled with people we love, with family and friends who feel like family. A city with its own assets and quirks and niches waiting to be discovered. With new playmates for my children and new friends for us. With a better, more stable schedule for my husband. With the stability and support of family.
Still, we will miss Baltimore. I will miss being able to pop over to our nation’s capital to inhale the history and revel in the architecture. I will miss proximity to so many amazing museums. I will miss being within close driving distance to New York City, Lakewood (so many weddings I’ve been able to attend), Philadelphia, and the ocean. I will miss the east coast feel, even if it has made a much more aggressive driver out of me.
Or two last days of Shabbos.
I will also miss our wonderful neighbors and friends. All the people who’ve had us over for Shabbos. I will miss running into friends and acquaintances in the aisles of our large kosher grocery store. I will miss the musicians I’ve met and collaborated with. I will miss the amazing, incredible staff of my children’s schools. I will miss Miss Noa, the principal of my smaller children’s school, giving me hugs, kisses and brachos. I will miss our house, full of light and surrounded by greenery.
Of course, every ending is intimately connected to a beginning. And it is exciting to begin the next leg of our journey, despite my awareness of the Talmudic dictum that all beginnings are hard. When I reflect on the hectic schedule facing us, I’m sure there will be many challenges, many times of stress. It’s likely that I will lose it on multiple occasions.
Hopefully I can keep the perspective that this transition is finite, that we will settle in eventually. As hard as beginnings can be, they also provide the opportunity to raise the bar on what I think I can do. Working through the difficulties does build character, that old adage. It’s more than just a saying. It’s a truism that has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I usually realize.
I am excited. My children are excited, though I imagine their understanding our of move is even more abstract than mine. On Shabbos, my daughter told me, “When I done eating my cereal, we gonna move to Cleveland!” It’s occurred to me that she may be more in touch than I am with how quickly this will all go.