Here is a thing that I’ve learned about my mother – she periodically feels the need to escape and to start over. The belief in the clean slate is strong in her. She will find herself withdrawing from everyone she knows and from organizations that were once important to her and then she will start to advocate with increasing urgency for a move. To a different part of town, to a new neighborhood, to a closer in suburb.
I have inherited this behavior pattern from her. It’s not as extreme and I don’t tend to withdraw in the same way before moving, but I have never felt attached to a home in the way that I would never want to leave it. Not since I was a child and my parents moved us from my literal childhood home to a new city when I was entering 10th grade.
Eleven years in one house. That was the longest I’ve lived anywhere before or after that time.
When we lived in London, we rented. We moved four times in seven years. We started in a one bedroom and needed two when we got pregnant with our first child. (Upon arrival home from the hospital, first night in their own room. I have never been the kind of nurturing mother who wanted or allowed her child to sleep in her room – neither of my kids has slept a day in our bedroom. There are pluses and minuses to this strict regime. Neither child has ever asked to sleep in our room, plus. Middle of the night waking and feeding require stumbling blindly down the hall after waking from a deep sleep, minus.) Then we needed less terrifying stairs as our first born started walking – they were an open sided spiral staircase with large gaps between the treads. They were a deathtrap and rattled when we went up and down them. Our third home was perfect for us, but the downstairs neighbor felt that our stroller should not be parked in the corner behind the stairs because she did not like how it looked – despite having permission from the landlord for it to be there – and made our lives miserable. The fourth was fine, but small and by that time we knew we were on our way home to the United States as soon as we could get here.
Once we moved to Texas we moved multiple times again (this time really only twice, with a brief stop in a rental house for a half year while we sold and bought).
The urge to try something new will be upon me. The need for a clean slate decoratively and lifestyle will start to consume my thoughts. The ease of real-estalking with all the property search websites and apps doesn’t help this problem. Neither does the stir craziness of COVID.
I hang on to things, but a move helps me to let go of them. Boxes of memorabilia that I would cling to while staying put in a house I can easily say goodbye to en route to a new home.
This is a constant tension in our marriage because I married the ultimate homebody. He’s happy as can be and still looks back fondly on our first and second apartments in London where he would probably still be living happily if circumstances hadn’t forced him out. It’s funny how people can surprise you. I assumed since he had already accepted a job in London when we started dating that he had a wanderlust similar to mine.
I was wrong.
Don’t fear, this isn’t a cry that there are problems in our marriage because of it. Marriage is a compromise and we’ve managed to compromise and compliment each other’s urges toward roots and wings. There’s negotiation and discussion, but it’s helped me to stay rooted more and to realize that I can cope with whatever is urging me to flee and start over. It’s helped him, I think, to realize that a new start doesn’t have to be calamitous and terrifying. We’ve managed to balance out and to learn new coping skills and behaviors that let us work pretty well together.
But yet, the itch will strike and I have to remember to slow myself down and stay present in my current existence. It helps that school supplies pick up for one child and the first day of school for the other happened today. While those don’t look like they have in the past, they’ve reminded me that even if we stay in the same house and place the year and the events that will occur will be ever changing and renewed.
And perhaps I’ll need to delete one or two of the property search apps for a bit, just to stop the habit of checking out new neighborhoods and cities constantly. Sometimes a little virtual wander can be a relief and a distraction from monotony and frustration, but (as I tell my clients all the time) we can’t live in distraction. Deleting the apps for a while helps me to stay present in the moment of my daily life. To live fully here and now. To cope with what may or may not be bothering me in my daily life here in our current home.