Archives for category: WHEN I MOVED

by Rhonda Schmidt

At eight years old, I knew bugs and dirt.
I knew bare feet, weeping willows, and sunshine.
My home was the yard behind my house,
the yard where I sat with my brother, my dog, my turtle.
Days passed slowly there, cicadas hummed loudly,
calling attention to the quiet house in front.

Our dog, old and almost blind, was our comfort.
We told him everything, and with one ear cocked sideways,
he listened as we buried our face in his soft fur.

We shared our yard with doodle bugs.
Plump little larvae,
they built homes of sand, perfect little pits,
scattered under the dead oak tree.

There they stayed until they grew and took flight,
we watched them work,
as they flicked sand into the air, moving backwards,
master builders.

Then we gathered little sticks and stirred the sand lightly,
thrilled as we watched them rise to the top of the dirt,
and smiled as they scurried to hide,
sometimes catching one,
feeling the little feet tickle our fingers.

Maybe we set our destiny in motion,
for we would leave our backyard that summer,
our tears and pleading ignored,
our sticks and turtle left behind, the cicada’s silent now.

And so we sat in our father’s Chevy,
his cigarette smoke stung our eyes, his gruff voice offered nothing.
Our eyes wide, our voices silenced,
we pulled deep into ourselves, and waited.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo I am eight years old, in my backyard with my beagle, Babe (Midland Texas, 1968).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In our family, we moved often—every three to four years. This was hard for my brother and me. The memory of digging for doodle bugs is a good one. And even though not everyone has seen doodle bugs, they are interesting little guys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhonda Schmidt started writing in her fifties, after working as a Registered Nurse for 30 years. She is a graduate student at Southern Methodist University in the Masters of Liberal Studies program. She is a native Texan, living in Dallas, and  yearns to move to any place where summer does not resemble hell.

A Moving Experience
by Vincent Van Ross

We felt we had reached
Our final destination
When we moved into
Our own house

That brought to an end
The ordeal of shifting
From one place to another
That became an annual ritual

It is common practice here
For landlords to enter
Into a lease agreement
With the tenant for one year

At the end of the lease period
Either the rent is increased
Or the tenant moves out…
The latter was more common

We used to feel like gypsies
Wheeling our wares
Leading unsettled lives
Without a place to call our own

All that changed
And we bought our own house
Our abode is now anchored
So is our lives

In a rented house
You are dependent
On the landlord
For every little thing

But, when you have
Your own house
You can make alterations
To suit your needs

And life becomes
So much more comfortable
Our final move was indeed
A moving experience

© Vincent Van Ross

IMAGE: “Revolving House” by Paul Klee (1921).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vincent Van Ross is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi, India.  He writes on national and international politics, defense, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics.  Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings.  His articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh.  He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous Internet poetry sites and facebook groups.


A Healthy Distance
by Carolyn Divish

Sheila cried when she heard we were moving.

From newlywed days to the arrival of children, Sheila and I spoke daily — usually by phone, but sometimes, if the day needed it, over a tall beer. With window views directly into each other’s houses, we were closer than most neighbors, literally and figuratively.

“I’ll never see you any more,” she sobbed.

“There, there,” I comforted. “We’re just moving across the street.”

My husband had pounced the moment the palatial foursquare came on the market. Twice as big with two full baths and an enormous garage, the new house meant no more scraping icy windshields or scheduling showers.

Later, my husband confessed a deeper motivation. I needed a healthy distance.

The year or so before our move, Sheila had befriended Elaina, a neighbor weathering a tumultuous divorce. After a while, I began seeing Sheila cross my yard to Elaina’s with a pair of wine glasses, skipping our daily call. Other times, Sheila rushed off the phone to greet Elaina who had shown up at her front door.

I felt squeezed out.

No longer an adolescent, I tried to insert myself, but it didn’t work. Conversations stopped when I arrived. Inside jokes couldn’t be explained. Back stories were too long to repeat. It wasn’t about me. They clicked in a way the three of us didn’t. Even so, I couldn’t avoid seeing their daily cocktail hour. Our houses were too close.

Years after the move, Sheila and I see each other less frequently, but the time feels more meaningful, because we are intentional. The extra distance requires extra effort. In our case, a “healthy distance” might only be the width of four houses — barely half a block — but it’s enough space for a healthy friendship.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My old house with Sheila’s house in the background taken just after we moved out and were placing the house up for sale.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In my writing life, I have primarily been focused on works of fiction. Lately, I’ve been gravitating towards creative nonfiction. As I excavate my own life, I am learning to be at peace with the discomfort of seeing myself as a character, especially when I don’t particularly like that person’s actions.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Divish, a lifelong Hoosier (except a brief stint in Chicago), currently lives in Indianapolis on the very best block of the whole city. She’s willing to rumble to prove it (but she’s not very strong, so she hopes you won’t take her up on the street fighting thing). She earned an MFA from Butler University. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Jack and Jill, Punchnel’s, Mythic Indy anthology, and elsewhere.

Away to School
by Thomas Park

The previous summer, had grown moody
Tired of routine, brashly
Exhausted of family

Total escape was the program
Call home only once every while

To college

On the waters of Lake Michigan
With lakefill, temperate
Rounded stones on sloped hill

Peaceful oasis, North of city
Where coffee, dancing, women
Were nightly features

Oh, and to study, my connection
To life before, by day
Submit to class, evening — mild homework

By this path, become one’s own

Professor of Romantic Poetry
Young, brunette, attractive
Taught works by Wordsworth

Where child of parents, farm-hand
Moved to city, merged with populace
Broke connections

My parents, just a half-day drive away
Somewhow no closer then than Polaris itself

Their home and dorm illuminated after sunset
By pale and twinkling light of distant orbs

IMAGE: The well-known arch at one entry of the Northwestern University campus, Evanston, Illinois. Image treated by Thomas Park.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a poem that reflects my experience of moving from St. Louis, Missouri, to Evanston, Illinois, back in 1989, in order to attend Northwestern University. I wanted to reflect the positive and negative aspects of the move.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Park is a musician, painter, video artist, writer, and poet living in South Saint Louis with his wife and two cats. He is a big fan of poet Philip Levine. He misses college a lot, and wishes he could go back, in spite of the necessary homework.


Moving to Regina
by D.A. Pratt

Changing cities after my grade ten year effectively bisected my life as a high school student. I understood this immediately but I only really realized how much it “changed everything” until years later. The move meant more than just changing high schools, more than just surrendering the friendships I began in grade seven for a new and very different set of friendships that would extend into my university years. In retrospect, the following stand out from “when I moved” . . .

First, during grades nine and ten, I regularly talked to girls (often in lengthy and quite creative telephone conversations). I also regularly attended and generally enjoyed school dances. Part of the pleasure from those dances included a bit of a ritual: one of the prettiest girls in our grade (in both years) consented to sharing one dance with me (obviously there’s a story to this). In complete contrast, at my new high school I hardly ever talked to girls: I didn’t know them and a renewed shyness simply took over. Of course, attending school dances was out of the question.

Secondly, listening to music changed for me after the move to Regina. It became a solitary activity. My friends at my first high school were “into music” and it seemed that we discussed music “all the time.” This was not the case at my new high school. Something significant was lost. I discovered the music of Simon and Garfunkel during my university years but what was lost was indeed lost …

Moving had a third “something”: once we were away from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, my mother’s alcoholism had its chance to finally fully flourish and it did … nothing would ever be the same …

IMAGE: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, postcard.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The challenge in creating this piece of prose was the limitation to 300 words … my first draft was longer … not surprisingly … “When I Moved” for most people would lend itself to longer descriptions … the move by my parents from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to Regina, Saskatchewan, was our second move within the province (the first was just before I started Grade One) … parenthetically, the most significant event of my existence occurred when I was two years old: my parents returned to Saskatchewan after moving away from the province where I was born … I now see this as failing to escape from the place! ¶ Reading the multi-volume “work” entitled My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard has led to some insights about my own life … I now understand that I had no long-term “companions” during my childhood and early youth … I was actually mulling this over yet again when I saw the call for submissions on the “When I Moved” theme …¶ The division of my high school years was something I vowed I would not “do to my children” (and Linda and I didn’t!) … parenthetically, I have not ever attended a reunion for either of my two high schools — curiously, while working on this piece, an invitation to attend a “graduating class reunion” for my first high school arrived in my e-mail … I wonder if anyone would remember me … I will note, frankly and forthrightly, that my mother’s alcoholism was present and apparent before we moved to Regina … its effects on our family of three were ongoing … but, in a certain way, the move to Regina probably ultimately led to her recovery …¶ The creative process for this piece was fairly simple … I opted for the old rule: introduce yourself, make three points and “get out” … the 300-word limit certainly created conciseness … the version that I submitted was this micro-essay’s seventh … one just has to stop revising at some point … cheers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: D.A. (David) Pratt “continues to continue” in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. By the way, Regina indeed rhymes with “vagina,” as Mick Jagger noted so enthusiastically when the Rolling Stones played two concerts at the football stadium in the city a few years ago. David considers himself an outsider within what he sees as a completely conventional community — this is summed up in his self-portrait poem published by Silver Birch Press in 2014.

stanford postcard.jpg

Into the Sunset
by Sheila Scobba Banning

I found a new home for my calico tabby before I left (no pets in dorms; my mom hated cats), and left behind my purple passion plant, sacrificed to California’s agricultural restrictions. I had been surrounded by corn and soybeans all my life, but Iowa has a hard freeze every winter. Imported pests were unknown to me.

My childhood had unspooled in a town of maybe six thousand people — and in the virtual adventures found in the hundreds of books I had read. There is a certain comfort in being known, but the years before the Internet could be stifling in ways difficult to explain. I hadn’t seen the campus I was moving to, hadn’t visited any university anywhere. But I had been preparing to leave forever.

I was hitching a ride with my sister and her husband who were taking turns driving while I provided conversational support. We stopped for food and restroom breaks when necessary, their two cats in the back of the van howling with displeasure at each change in momentum, the disturbing and comical soundtrack for my memories. From the endless flat of Nebraska through the flat tire sunset in Salt Lake City, I could feel the increasing pull of the Pacific and my manifest destiny in the unknown West.

There was a lag between our arrival in the Bay Area and my move to Stanford, but I can’t claim the time provided much adjustment to a world with no distance between cities where the people around me were the face of the world. Carrying my meager belongings past the exotic palm and magnolia trees up the steps into my red-tiled dorm, I realized it wasn’t the destination I had expected; it was a launch. I was home.

IMAGE: Stanford University postcard.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After living in the same house for 18 years, I moved on and off campus every year I was in college, moved into many different jobs after I graduated, moved in with my husband on our first date . . . but the move that had the biggest impact on the rest of my life was the decision to go to a school half a continent from where I grew up. Had I not been encouraged to expand my college application horizons by my high school guidance counselor, none of the rest of my moves would have been possible.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheila Scobba Banning has been writing since she could hold a crayon. Her books include the collection of short stories Intersections, novel Terroir, and the YA Carter Bros mystery series. Her award-winning short fiction and personal essays have appeared in BALE, New West, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, NCYMidnight, Rosebud, The Tab, and A Picture is Worth Five Hundred Words (or Less). She grew up in Iowa and lives in California with her husband, sons, and menagerie of pets. She creates fascinators and outlandish hats, throws fabulous parties, wears vintage dresses, and laughs until she cries every day. Her super power is catalysis.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Book signing for Terroir at Hi-Time Wine Cellar in Costa Mesa, California, November 2013.

by Jonathan Yungkans

my marriage was over
I ran alone into a thicket
of tangled thoughts that
grew close to ground on
a scrub hillside and into
one room in a hundred-
year-old house white
as my great-grandparents

where I spent so many
days in quiet and cracks
along what was left of
a fireplace flue a mattress
on the floor one plate
one pot an alarm clock
whatever air was around
and like that house not

had a true foundation
since planted on that spot
held up by pilings that
might’ve actually saved it
when brick and mortar fell
in the earthquake of ’87
it had bent shifted as
it resettled and cracked

with stress but was still
like me in basically one
piece despite itself with
shale beneath it coyotes
prowling from the canyon
but familiar lath and plaster
like my great-grandfather
whether with carpentry

or the evening news quiet
while my great-grandmother
cooked or sat on the porch
swing under bougainvillea
like on the trellis here
further away from my life
than I’d ever known before
yet here I was finally home

IMAGE: Whittier, California, postcard, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: They say you can’t go home again but maybe I came home, period, when I moved to Whittier in December 2000. An ex-girlfriend, with whom I had no contact, had graduated from Whittier College, and I had one friend at the time who lived not far away. Otherwise, I was very much on my own. I rented a room in an old house across the street from the college. In a way, the place was a foot in the past, having been raised in part by my great-grandparents in a house maybe 10 years or so newer, and one in the future. But it did give me a chance to breathe and regroup.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los-Angeles-based poet, writer, and photographer. Growing up in Gardena, California, not far from the Pacific Ocean and at the time still predominantly Japanese-American, left him with three things—an intense love for the sea, a deep appreciation for cultures other than his own, and the outlook (and resulting questions) of an outsider aware that he didn’t quite fit into his surroundings. Subsequent years as an ESL teacher and a publications editor for a multi-cultural Christian ministry only added to the latter two of these. His works have appeared in Poet Lore, Poetry/LA, Twisted Vine Literary Journal and other publications.

by Chloe Cotter

Last week a friend asked when was the last time I’d felt happy.

 “When…” no, not then. “It was…” no, not then either.

Don’t get me wrong, I have lots to be happy about. I’m a young writer spending my days drinking espresso on the sun-bathed terraces of Paris, and I have a family back home in Vancouver that loves me very much.

It’s just that the ever-present futility of existence weighs down on every moment and reminds me that I’m just a step away from losing it all.

This morning as I walked along the paths of the Buttes Chaumont, I looked at my arms and they didn’t feel like they were a part of me. The sun was shining, warming my skin, but I felt completely translucent, like I didn’t even exist.

I sat down on a bench to steady myself and stare into the space above the pond to think of the nothing that comes to mind when I think of being happy.

Then I thought about that time he hit me like the coward he is and how I packed up my shit while he was at work and moved out like the coward I am. And how I found myself on the other side of the world continuing the search for meaning in other people and things and meals and glasses of Bordeaux and the rainbow haze of the Sagrada Familia and the red-lit rooms of De Wallen.

And I thought about being suspended in time and space and how the whole city, the whole world, is talking nonchalantly about the meaning of life. About our translucent bodies. About how no matter how far we go, no matter how far or how fast you move, there is no escaping our fate.

PHOTO: The author in Paris, August 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote a much longer version of this piece after a particularly difficult experience with trying to integrate myself into the French culture. It wasn’t difficult to talk to or share stories and food with my new French friends, but rather it felt immensely heavy to deal with the reality of being a perpetual wanderer, and having a deep-set need to always move away from difficulties. And not only that — now that I’d found a place (Paris) that I wanted to stay in, the bureaucracy of travel visas stated that my sejour there would have to come to an end eventually, and I was lost with where to move to next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chloe Cotter is currently working on her first novel, and is the writer behind She is a perpetual wanderer, originally from Vancouver and currently based in Montreal. She spent 2015 eating and drinking her way across France, finding inspiration in everything. She is a foster cat mama, French enthusiast, and consciousness seeker. Visit her on social media — twitter @chloefcotter, instagram @thekittenlife, and  her website,


Somewhere on I-75
by Amanda Tanner

Many people move from one state to another. Sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes its crappy. For the first 18 years of my life, it was crappy, literally. But, more about that later.

Moving across country has some interesting side effects on a child. For example, I can tell what geographical region you are from based on how you order that fizzy cola with lunch. I won’t get worried when a friend in Georgia asks to be carried to the store, or when my son wants to pump a friend on his bike. I also know that a crick could be a pain in one’s neck, or it could be a stream of water. You say tomato, I say tomahtoe.

Another interesting side effect of moving is that I’m not a hoarder, I don’t get attached to things. While all of my friends have a treasure chest full of childhood toys they can share with their grandchildren, I have none. I don’t even have childhood memories. I imagine that they are with my toys, in a moving van, somewhere on I-75.

This is because, for the first 18 years of my life, we moved every two years or so. I remember Alaska, Minnesota, Florida, both sides of Michigan, Florida twice more, and then Texas.   I know what you are thinking: I must have been a military brat, right? Nope. Daddy was a civil engineer. He built sewage treatment plants.

That’s right, I’ve been to all the towns that were full of crap! For me, moving was always a crappy experience.

PHOTO: Taken by author in Michigan’s northern Upper Peninsula. The sign showing the distance to Miami demonstrates the locals’ sense of humor about their remote location and frigid winters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For this piece of writing, I combined two of my most frequently told stories from my youth. Friends and family members get a kick out of my moving story because they all assume I am a military brat, and because the story has a bad word or two in it when it is told in person. My sons and their dad are budding hoarders, but I am not. I consistently explain this phenomenon as “the amount of stuff you keep is inversely related to the number of towns that you have lived in.” They all lived in the same town until after high school!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda (call her Nanna) Tanner is a semi-retired educator and lifelong learner. An eternal optimist, Nanna claims there is nothing that she can’t learn. She will tell you she dabbles in the arts and loves creating things. She paints in oils and acrylics, plays guitar, writes poetry, and sings in the car on road trips. Most recently, she has learned to quilt and has made personal creations for 10  relatives.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Nanna needs some new shades! Photo taken in August of 2016 at KMart.

by Kelley White

Moving out —
your bicycle leaning in
the empty hall

PAINTING: “The Bicycle” by Georges Braque (1961).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother lived in the same house for over 50 years, I’ve moved too many times to want to count. This little piece, which previously appeared in bear creek haiku, speaks, I hope, a bit to the loneliness of the homes we leave.


Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.