Moving Memories

Travis’s phone rang. He looked down to check who was on the other end.

“It’s the apartment office,” he said and quickly answered it. After a few “uh-huh’s” and “ok’s” he hung up.

“We’re moving at the end of the month.”

A huge smile spread across his face. I was happy too. This was something we had wanted for our family for over two years. It meant a bigger place to call home, not feeling so cramped in our tiny two-bedroom townhouse. Even if the upgrade was only to a three-bedroom unit within the same complex, we just couldn’t wait.

But something fell in the pit of my stomach. This also meant we actually had to leave the apartment we came to love as our home.

I had been too exhausted to make the kids pick up their toys before nap but as I glanced around our toy-strewn living room minutes after receiving that phone call a burst of energy came over me. I thought about our new space and what it would mean for our family of five. Crawling around on the floor I picked up the scattered toys. As I placed a dinosaur back in one basket and a doll baby in another I thought about the extra bedroom upstairs, the extra closet space, the chance to purge and start over. Maybe purging would consist of that dinosaur or that doll baby I had just placed in their respective places, because, really, who needs five doll babies? And that dinosaur was missing a leg. I could have just thrown them out right then, the dinosaur in the trash, the doll baby in a give-away pile. I’ll get to it in a few weeks when the pressure of packing gets to me, I thought. For now I’ll hold onto these things a little longer.

After throwing the last toy in its basket my eyes fell upon the dark marks on the walls placed there over the years by the dining chairs bumping against them. Those marks never seemed more apparent than in that moment. I rolled my eyes recalling the effort I had exerted one day to try and remove the spots, to no avail. It only took the paint off instead. They’re just so dirty. At least our new walls will be clean with a fresh coat of paint.  

Deciding I needed some fresh air I opened the front door and looked down over the grassy hill just off the front stoop, the same grassy hill Anna rolled down on her tricycle when she was just two years old. I could still hear her little grunts in rhythm with each bump, as I knelt below cheering her on. The new place wouldn’t have a grassy hill, which, really, I was fine with. It’s safer that way. But I didn’t want to ever forget about that grassy hill where our little girl conquered her fears and, later, where our little boy found delight in throwing his ball, watching as it picked up speed the farther it went.

Looking down our sidewalk I noticed our neighbor sitting on her front stoop just like she did almost every day.

“Namaste,” I said to her and bowed in greeting.

In that moment I thanked God we would still be surrounded by such beautiful people who had journeyed from all around the world to settle here, the same kids we were accustomed to seeing run through the streets daily would continue to knock on our door asking in their best broken English to play Legos or play-dough or with the chalk and bubbles. I thanked God not everything was going to change.


“Mommy, I don’t want to move into a new house!” Anna exclaimed from the back seat of our car. I glanced in the rear view mirror and I could see her eyes well up with tears. We had been prepping her for a few weeks, trying to get her excited for what was to come. At barely four years old I didn’t imagine moving just three buildings away would devastate her as much as it had. I got a little teary eyed too trying to put myself in her shoes. Maybe she didn’t realize her toys and clothes and bed and blankets would come with us. Maybe a big change like this was too much for her little mind to process. Maybe she couldn’t envision being happy in her new place because our old place was all she had ever known.

I remember the very first night we brought her home. We gave her the tour as if she were aware. I held her close while we walked through her nursery and then cuddled in our nursing chair. She was so calm as I laid her in her crib. She looked up at me and I remember thinking, “It’s just us now, baby girl.” She was home.

It was into that same nursery that we brought her brother just two years later, and now as they fall asleep at night Travis and I listen to their giggles echoing through the halls and down the stairs. It was in our kitchen where they both learned to walk and in our living room where they danced with their daddy while Mumford and Sons played through the stereo.

As we pulled into our designated parking spot for one of the last times I reminded Anna that the move would be great for our family.

“There will be more space for you to play, you’ll meet new friends, you’ll have new places to explore, and you’ll get to take all your stuff with you.” She didn’t seem convinced. As the move crept closer I was beginning to not be so sure either. It was just three buildings down though, why was this so difficult?

Their firsts are moments I never want to forget, but I feared they would be lost in the move along with that doll baby I had hoped would disappear all on its own—at least that’s what I will have told Anna.

First birthday parties held amongst our friends and family would only be remembered in the photos I still had not printed out. I won’t be able to walk through the kitchen anymore and think back to the time when we made chocolate chip banana pancakes for the first time. And those pesky marks on the wall left by the dining chairs would soon be painted over and I will have quickly forgotten some of the sweet times had around the dinner table.

But maybe these memories could follow us somehow. With having our third baby in our new home, perhaps all the memories of Anna and Theo’s firsts will flood back into my mind. As I give the baby a bath in the new tub I’ll wash him with the same soap I used on my other babies. I’ll smile as I take in the scent of chamomile and lavender and remember the laughter during bath times from my other two. I’ll nurse him in the same chair and then lay him in the same crib Anna and Theo slept in their first year of life. We’ll flip through the photo books that I’m determined to finish as my children sit in my lap pointing and giggling at the memories that were shared in their first home.


We have been in our new apartment for a few months now. Things are beginning to settle. The kids have a new bunk bed, we replaced the beat up red couch we sat on for 11 years, and the third bedroom is absolute bliss. It’s feeling more like home.

Anna hasn’t forgotten the old apartment though. She’ll bring it up every now and then, out of the blue, like the other day when we were getting ready for her nap. We sat on our new-to-us couch, the cream leather broken in from years of use by another family, and had just finished reading The Napping House.

“Can we snuggle?” she asked.

“Of course, it’s been a long time since we’ve snuggled before nap.” I answered. I thought it was sweet that she wanted to.

“Yeah, like in our old house,” she said and remembered that was our thing before I would lay her down for her nap. We would read a book or two on my bed and then snuggle. This was a memory she hadn’t forgotten, a cherished memory she packed up with her, having nestled its way amongst the rest of our belongings.

I held her a little tighter that day before nap. I noticed how much she’s grown just in the few short months we’ve been in our new home. Her legs thinning out and growing long, her face still holding her chipmunk cheeks but maturing into a little girl’s. I closed my eyes as I rubbed her back trying with all my might to hold onto this new memory in our new home.

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