Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Missing Angenette Avenue

Today we picked up the keys to the townhouse.

Today I sat outside in the front yard and sighed.

Today means it is real and we are moving.

Today I am sad.

I've never liked some things about this house we have been renting for the last two years. The biggest thing is that it doesn't have a basement and when it rains, it rains inside. There is a hole in the pipes that means everything leaks from the tub to the washing machine to the kitchen sink. I've become familiar with the comings and goings of my neighbors dogs because when I am in the kitchen doing dishes, I am looking up at their yard, this house being partly below ground. The plumber said it is a wonder that water isn't shooting into the kitchen every time it rains. It is this and the basic 1952 construction that has been patchwork repaired that makes me not like 601 Angenette Avenue. Yet, today as I hold the keys to the townhouse in my hands, I find that I will miss the neighborhood.

Is it possible to separate a house from a neighborhood? My daugther's won't be "bus stop girls" anymore with the same kids we have watched play on the triangle for the past two years. The greenspace that is this spacious front, side, and back yard is being reduced to a literal postage stamp front yard and nearby park. The people that I wave at every day or who honk a kind hello in the morning will be replaced by a community of strangers. I'm not sure I can go from a single family dwelling to a multifamily dwelling that is our townhouse complex. Can I make this adjustment?

The kids are excited about the balconies and their new bedrooms. My son loves the new bed we found him. The girls are negotiating how to keep more of their toys in a smaller space. I found some chic black storage boxes for my husband's files. Boxes and boxes of photos are being consolidated into a Creative Memories storage system. Friends have offered their help and are standing at the ready to pack, move, and lend their support.

I'm not sure I want to trade the comfortable familiar with the beautiful unknown. I know how long it takes to get to Kaldi's and I'm a familiar at the recycling center, library, and downtown. Warm walks to First Watch or simply downtown were a nice treat this time last year. The weather has finally become tolerable and I was looking forward to afternoon walks with my daughter since she is just in morning kindergarten. The new place does not offer such scenic walking paths unless I drive out of the Bluffs and to the nearby park. Well, there are trees and ideally one could walk, but it is just a bunch of townhouses to see, not the wonderful architecture that is Kirkwood. I will miss seeing the variety of homes from the sturdy mid-century bricks to the tiny cottages to the towering mansions. I will miss the eclectic nature of this side of town.

Perhaps the thing that I will miss the most is that my children had friends in and around the neighborhood. They could walk to a friend's house and I could look out the window to see them. The girls were regular fixtures on the triangle outside my office window. My son's friend held many game night sleepovers just down the street. It was all known, understood, and unchanging.

Change is unsettling, in whatever form. Moving is a big change. I'm having fun figuring out how to downsize since my husband's career will inevitably hold another move in my near future. I've examined and "Clean Swept" files, photos, and magazines. Everything is getting the roving eye of a critical organizer. And all of it is making me sad.

When I step outside the townhouse once we are settled, I will be facing lots of trees and rows of other townhouses. Many of the homes are quaint with the outdoor bistro setting and flowers, amazing how they made that little patch of grass look like a landscapers masterpiece. Will I find new friends? Will the children? Will my son find someone to hang out with? It is all so new and unsure. Perhaps that is what change entails. Picking up the keys, opening one door, closing another, awaiting the adventure.

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