One week from today, almost everything I own will be on a moving truck headed for Texas. Next Tuesday morning, I will put one last load of furniture and clothes/toys out for Salvation Army, let Stanley Steemer do their best with the carpet upstairs, and then pile into the car with three kids and a dog and all our various gear for the first stretch of the 1500 miles between us and our new home. Fifty boxes, several rolls of tape, packing paper, and assorted moving necessities sit in a pile in the playroom downstairs. I have so much to do that I had to make a list of all the other lists I need to make to keep everything organized. Will it go in the car with us? Will it go on the moving truck? Can I ship it to the house in Texas so that if the truck is delayed, I will at least have a couple of things I need? I would be lying if I said I had everything under control.
So naturally, I took the kids to the zoo today.
When he found out we were moving, my son put together his "NYC Bucket List" of things he's wanted to do for the past nine years. We checked off the Intrepid and Empire State Building a few weeks ago, but we still have a few stops to go and now the clock is really ticking. Though it makes little logical sense to anyone other than me, I feel the same urgency to get through the Bucket List as I do to have the house packed up and ready for the movers. So come hell or high water (or scattered showers that had us scrambling for cover in the gift shop), today we were going to the Bronx Zoo.
My son has no memory of living anywhere but in this house. His first pet (Linny the Guinea Pig) is buried in the backyard underneath a gravestone he made with his best friend across the street. His other best friends all live in the neighborhood, and together they've made it almost all the way through the elementary school that is exactly five minutes away (four if you're really in a hurry for drop off in the morning). He spent many a summer afternoon lost in play that migrated from our yard to his friend's house across the street before going up or down the hill and back again and included all the kids on the street, even the really little ones. He would sneak sodas out of our refrigerator to give to his friends and gleefully accepted popsicles--the sugary kind that I will never buy--at their houses. Before we moved here, I didn't know that a place still existed where kids could be outside until the streetlights came on, and mothers stood on the front porch and called their children's names when it was time to come home; the only real way to get into trouble was to go beyond the range of your mother's voice. He learned to ride his bike in the driveway and progressed from the toddler end to the deep end of the local pool over several summers as his swimming improved. One memorable summer, he unnerved a slew of lifeguards at the lake by diving down to the bottom to look at rocks for as long as he could before having to come up for air. He can tell you the best playgrounds depending on what you want to do (the good swings are here, but this one has the best slides, etc.), and he knows the best streets for trick-or-treating at Halloween and the best places to hide Easter eggs in the backyard. This is his home, and he loves it here.
The realities of getting ready for a move have thrown his world off its axis. Watching his toys make their way from his bedroom and playroom to donation bags to drop off stations or lined up on the curb for pick up has been like something out of Toy Story 3. He even went outside in the rain last night to sit on the mattress and sofa my oldest daughter and I dragged out for bulk trash pick up. He said, "I grew up on that couch," and he's right--we bought it when I was newly pregnant with him. I welcome this process of purging, and I feel lighter with every load that leaves my hands; he mourns the loss of the most insignificant McDonald's toy that he hasn't picked up in years because he remembers the day he got it, and that afterwards we went to play at the park, and he got to pet someone's puppy at the playground.
Saying goodbye to his class on the last day of school had him wailing a cry of lament that left both of us breathless and spent after almost an hour of rocking back and forth on his bedroom floor. Saying goodbye to the cats we can't have in our rent house was almost as bad. There are more goodbyes to get through in this next week that will have both of us on the floor all over again. I can't stop any of that from happening. I can't stop his little heart from breaking wide open, again and again.
So today we went to the zoo.
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.