Cry, till it's out of sight

19 November 2012

We have a moving tradition: we cry, till it's out of sight.

Our first home was in Oak Park. Matt moved in first, bringing hand-me-downs and woodworking projects to the brownstone apartment. I sat in the living room, under the bay windows, reading in a green chair. This was the life (as my sentimental mind remembers it): young love in romantic Chicago, stained glass over the mantle, a white cat and an antique bed ensuring - no matter how bad our fight was - we rolled to the middle, every night.

After our wedding and summer of getting to know yous (sharing a bathroom with a boy? another parking ticket?), I decided to take a semester off of school. Our parents were severely disappointed, no doubt, as the first sign of marital mediocrity was the wife without a degree. We'd made a promise to them - I would finish school - but I just couldn't go back. Not yet.

So I found a job. An independent bookstore. A large, loving Irish-Italian-Catholic family owned the place and ran it like it was an extension of their family tree (it was). They welcomed us naive newlyweds in, showered us with love and homemade tiramisu, honored our education and Biblical insight. I quickly became the go-to person on the slight semantic differences between the NIV and the NLT, sitting behind the desk inhaling the thick scent of new books and Yankee candles. This was heaven, and about as close to the Shop Around the Corner as I was ever going to get.

I've never loved any place as much as I loved Oak Park. We were surrounded by trees and art and front porches and children. As we exited Austin, turning left on our street, a sign greeted us: "Oak Park, IL is a nuclear weapon free zone." This was not comforting, but it was true to form. The People's Republic of Oak Park, we called it. Taxes were crazy, the rent only went up-up-up, and the hippies... oh, the crazy old hippies. And I loved it there, right up until we left it.

I went back to school full-time (still keeping my hours at the bookshop) and we tried to balance life and school and friends and books. Chicago itself was so busy, so fast. We were exhausted, couldn't keep up. Our building was bought out and I was graduating and paying an additional $200 in rent for our one-bedroom apartment just didn't add up.

The bookshop, too, was bought out. The family we had loved, in the face of big bad Fox Books Borders moving to town, decided to retire and move on. And we were both looking for full-time work that didn't leave us gasping for nickels and dimes at the end of the month. We knew we couldn't stay, we knew it was time to go, so we packed up our hand-me-downs and wedding-gifted afghans and cried.

s. humphrey st

I write this all with the next move at our fingertips. Every two years, this is what we do. We fall in love, we build a life, and for reasons beyond our control, one road ends while another opens up, and we move. 

And we cry, till it's out of sight.

Where was the first place you called home? And how did you leave it?


  1. Oh moving. Never a favorite. I don't get very attached to particular places, but leaving does always feel like the end of an era. I think about all the things that happened there, all the milestones and firsts. Good luck on your move. May it be peaceful, and all your dishes go unbroken!

    1. Thanks, Anna. One of the good things of our move: very little is going with. Just us, the kiddos, and whatever is light and will fit in a suitcase. :)

  2. I read this and tried to think of the first place I called home, and drew a blank. A memory of my mom telling us that "home is wherever the family is".

    I guess Oklahoma. But it was home because I barely remember living in Texas before that. I do have a few picture memories of Texas, but I left there when I was 15 months old. I remember a view out the front door and the grate on the floor. So Oklahoma, I guess, but I left there young, too. It was home, but seems so so distant.

    There's never been a "home" since then. My heart split into pieces and each piece longed for where it belonged. I am always content and always searching. Remembering.

    For me, even the "home is where your family is" is at times hard. My first daughter is in heaven. I think I will only be home when we are there.