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Moving a Lifetime
by Cheryl Levine

We found it on a dreary, icy February Sunday. Close to the city we loved, it was an ugly, dirty brown stucco house, listing to the left, with sad dandelions and other unidentifiable weeds disguised as a front lawn.

We wanted it the minute we stepped out of the car.

Taking an estimated five months to make the new-to-us house habitable gave us time to sort through twenty years of stuff in our current house. Stuff that was shoved into the attic, basement, kids’ closets, under beds.

We assumed our clean-out tasks would be a breeze. A cinch. A snap.

Older son’s closet belched out dozens of boxes of baseball cards, little league awards, and speech and debate trophies, along with stacks of high school math and political science notebooks. “I don’t want anything,” he claimed. “Throw it all out.” I made judgment calls, donated or threw out a bunch of stuff and boxed up items that I deemed important.

Our daughter deigned to travel to the suburbs one more time to peruse her childhood belongings. She packed up some letters, books, old CDs. We reminisced about summer camp and quizzed each other with Gilmore Girls quotes. “What do we do with the Beanie Babies?” she asked, pulling out green garbage bags filled with the stuffed animals. She chose two to take with her, and tossed the rest.

Younger son, the one still living at home when not at school, was not a tosser. He wanted to keep everything. Everything. The Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tracks. The Legos. Pokemon cards. I relented: “Pack everything up. We’ll shove it into the new basement.”

Many carloads of filled-to-the-brim moving boxes later, with a new basement fuller than anticipated, we trekked to our newly renovated home, excited for this next phase to begin.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After months of scouring neighborhoods for our next house and experiencing frustration with sellers pointing out the “excellent upgrades” they had installed, we realized we needed to totally remodel a house from the ground up. This mess of a house was in a great neighborhood, with a solid foundation and walking distance to everywhere. Moving over 20 years of our lives was an all-consuming multi-month endeavor that forced us to figure out what was and was not important stuff-wise. As we happily inhabit our new house a mere bus ride away from Boston, we don’t intend to have another moving day anytime soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Levine lives and writes just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.