I've never known until now exactly how many cubic feet of stuff my household owned. George Carlin would be proud. Two storage units are packed so tight that furniture will rain down on my head if I ever open the doors, and in a third storage unit breathe all my canvases from my-great-uncle-the-minor-Cubist. (That should be all one word. Where is the language that will give me a single word for that? Perhaps it's Ithkuil.)
Here in the home of my 81-year-old father-in-law is all the rest of the stuff that would fill the breathing space in our third storage unit. We tried to pack as if for camping, and we try to treat Dan's childhood bedroom like our tent on the world's tamest camping trip. The stuff still overflows into too many of the house's common spaces. Living here is almost as awkward as you might imagine, except that all of us have a will to make it work. It takes some courage to open one's unchildproofed home to a pair of young grandchildren, a distractible son, and an irascible daughter-in-law for an indefinite stay. I've gotten a better view of my father-in-law's best qualities this week than I've ever had before, and those best qualities are mighty. We will all be able to appreciate one another's best qualities better if the New Jersey house sells fast and my little nuclear family can clear out of here by summer's end. (I'll say it again: Anybody wanna buy a house?)
My childhood memories of househunting are comically traumatic. It was 1980, and my family had just arrived in the US, jet-lagged to the point of week-long incoherence, after three years on an army base in Japan. It was our first experience of triple-digit temperatures. At ten, I had no memory of living among civilians, and my six-year-old sister had no memory of living in America. After weeks of touring house after house in tow with our parents, who cannot have enjoyed the process either, my sister and I had a joint meltdown in which she begged our parents to take her "home to Kentucky." She had been born in Fort Knox, and surely being born in a place could give one a claim to home there, with or without actual memories.
I've been waiting for the moment when my kids demand to be taken home to New Jersey. So far, they ask to "go home to Grampa Dan's house". I wonder if that means we've prepared them well, or if that just means the real suckage of moving is still ahead of us. (I still think it's behind us. Remind me I said that if things get hairy later.)