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  • ellensherman

That's Why They Call It "Moving," Part II

Updated: Jun 29


From my internal Webster:

Moving, verb: Relocating from one place to another.

Moving, adjective. Something that stirs one to deep feelings.

Moving, verb: Progressing with how one views things, changing perspective,

growing, revising; see “in motion,” and “moving on”

We did it again! At the end of May, my husband and I spent a week packing up our beloved apartment in Jersey City, a spacious one bedroom on a fifteenth floor that had panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island, the Verrazano Bridge, a marina, and Lower Manhattan.

We hadn’t planned to move from there after only three years. In fact, at the end of January, we signed a new lease, committing ourselves until the end of March 2021. But then the pandemic arrived, and we began 80 days as nomads, fearful of returning to our crowded apartment building in the most densely populated state and directly across the Hudson from NYC, then the epicenter of the virus.

Jersey City was a wonderful adventure for us. We loved our tree-lined neighborhood packed with fun restaurants. We loved nearby Liberty State Park, offering a 5-mile bike loop. We loved all the weather witnessed from our balcony: the early morning fog that obscured the top of Lady Liberty, the islands, and Verrazano; the bright red and purple sunsets; the dark, moody thunderstorms. We loved eating as many meals as the weather permitted on our balcony, staring at the bustling river: ferries, sailboats, kayaks, cruise ships, and barges with signs like “Marry me Mary!” We loved the convenience of renting (management even insisted on changing our light bulbs)! We loved not having to shovel the sidewalks and driveway when it snowed.

We ended up moving. On June 2nd, we relocated to a small two-bedroom apartment in Wayne, PA. Chris is nearly retired and is fortunate to be able to handle his remaining work from home in these days of the coronavirus. With the second bedroom functioning as a study, we each have a private workspace here.

If three weeks are telling, we’re in love again. As in Jersey City, we are grateful to have so much in walking distance, including a 2 ½-mile walking trail that begins 50 yards from our front door. The trees are incredibly tall where we live now, the lawns incredibly green. A small deck in the back of our new digs is private and sunny, and while it offers a much less spectacular view than our balcony on the water, it is great for hanging out and having family members over for drinks.

One thing this location has all over Jersey City is proximity to family. We are much nearer to my mom, two siblings, a brother-in-law, and a nephew, all of whom generously took care of us in our recent itinerant phase. We really miss our kids, who are in Chicago and San Diego, but we are in touch with them a lot—and who knows where we will move to next?

Because we have the luxury to take it year by year now.

Chris and I have started a new routine during the virus. After breakfast, we sit together for 20 minutes with tea and coffee respectively and plan our mornings of work, and times for exercise, podcasts, and neighborhood exploration. We have launched a weekly poetry “class” with a friend and meditate most afternoons. We have weathered a lot of moves together. We do them well.

Perhaps the best thing about this move is how it has filled me with feelings and allowed me to see how I’m changing. In my 60s now, I am much better able to enjoy each day and not overburden it with “Things to do.” My lists are shorter and my time to reflect longer. This time around, I took the time to set up everything with more care, more thoughtfully and logically. And having created an agreeable physical space, I suddenly feel I have more mental space to accomplish things. I know I will finally read all those letters from my dad and grandfather in the box labeled “Old Letters, 1970s-80s.” I’ve already tried a few recipes I had been carting around for years.

This latest “unpacking” has ignited a creative frenzy. I find myself writing constantly, bits about moving, the virus, my family, the current characters in my head. Now that this piece is done, I am ready to turn to my novel again.

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