In a totally unexpected twist–we are moving to New York City! (!!!)
The past week has been a whirlwind. Mr. Magpie accepted a job offer he just could not refuse last Thursday, we called all of our friends in New York on Friday for input and recommendations on renting vs. buying in The Big Apple — and where to do so!, we met with our realtor to start the home-selling process here in Chicago on Saturday, and we had a long chat with our broker in New York City on Sunday to get the ball rolling there. Since then, we’ve had our house cleaned, touched up by a handyman, staged, and photographed, and we’ll be flying to New York City to find our new digs Monday of this upcoming week.
The move is a Good Thing, capital G and capital T and lots of exclamation points. I have wanted to return to the East Coast for years, and I’ve always wanted to live in New York City. Being closer to my parents and several of my siblings — and living in the same city as a dear cousin and my best friend! — will be such a blessing as minimagpie grows up.
But, and perhaps the muted tone of this post reflects this, the move is bittersweet. I am devastated to leave our beautiful three-story (CORRECTION POST-PUBLICATION: two-story…Mr. Magpie just informed me that basements don’t count as a story…), three-bedroom home. “Oh, but what a gem,” my Dad said when I told him of our plans to sell it. When our agent came by the house last weekend, he was in and out in about an hour, and we’d already agreed to a handful of minor improvements and staging-related activities, as well as a listing price and tentative timeline. “But, aren’t there more steps?” Mr. Magpie asked, after we’d closed the door. He thought about it for a minute, “I guess I want there to be more steps between now and saying goodbye.”
I am startled by the heft of the sadness I feel, jittery with memory:
This house made us homeowners. We laid on our backs on the rooftop just after we’d gotten the keys, breathing deeply while holding hands: “I can’t believe it’s ours.” We felt stable, adult.
It’s where we brought home our puppy, becoming “parents” for the first time. The skitter of Tilden’s paws running up and down the length of our home multiple times each day, and up and down the stairs, too–often too fast, often too excitedly–are as familiar to me as the sound of Mr. Magpie’s voice, calling up the stairs and the location of drinking glasses in the second cupboard in from the stove.
It’s where we’ve hosted countless dinner parties, friends from out of town, family reunions. Epic cookouts — paella on the grill! ribs! whole legs of lamb! — enjoyed al fresco, under strings of twinkle lights, with music floating into the still and warm evening air, always just a bit warmer and quieter in our enclosed backyard than on the street.
It’s home to the kitchen we loved, its overlong expanse of granite offering more than enough workspace for both of us, despite an oven we hated (always off by 25 degrees and so loud).
It’s adjacent to kind neighbors whose backyard garden occasionally outgrows its confines, spilling cucumbers and tomatoes into our backyard.
It’s where we watched fireworks from our roof, punctuating the summer evenings, and snowfall from the glass sliding doors at the back of our house, collecting quietly into the night.
It’s where we found out I was pregnant — Mr. Magpie coming through the door after meeting with an old colleague, and me, tripping down the stairs with breathless excitement to tell him, and us, throwing our arms around each other, ecstatic and teary and nervous all at once.
It’s where we passed an entire winter waiting, waiting, waiting for minimagpie — so many snowy nights and frosty mornings curled up in anticipation, watching re-runs of Seinfeld late into myriad sleepless nights.
It’s where we brought minimagpie home. Where she first laughed, first rolled over, first tasted food, first made us realize how narrow our lives had been before she arrived. Narrow, not hollow: there’s a difference. She has widened and deepened our lives in the best way possible, and we’ve learned that and so much more becoming parents in the four walls of this beautiful home in Chicago.
The familiar sounds of the house now strike me as nearly melodic — the creaks, the click-on-off of the air conditioning, the beep-beep-beep of the alarm system when a door opens, the whir of the drapes in our breakfast nook being opened in the morning, even Tilly’s shrill, sassy bark when she yearns for our attention in the backyard.
I am already nostalgic for Saturday mornings curled up in the sunny breakfast nook, feet propped up on our coffee table, Van Morrison on the sound system, coffee in hand, reading Mr. Magpie the neighborhood gazette aloud, partly out of jest and partly because we are in our 30s and that’s what 30-somethings do.
I’m nostalgic for the quiet coolness of the house after we’ve just flown back from a trip: the feeling that this, now, is home: the centrifugal force pulling us back into Chicago. The way everything else was measured in relation to it.
And I’m even nostalgic for events not yet happened: minimagpie waiting at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning, eager to see her gifts. First-day-of-school pictures on the front stoop next to a planter of mums. Inaugural bike rides with Mr. Magpie up and down the length of our block. Hopscotch and stick figures drawn in sidewalk chalk on the tiles of our backyard. An inflatable kiddie pool for her in the long and languid days of summer. Snowmen and snowangels in the feet of snow behind us.
I now realize I had unthinkingly envisioned raising minimagpie here her entire life.
Such is life, so full of twists and turns and ups and downs and the best we can do is heed my dad’s mantra: “Keep on moving.”
If nothing else, our five years here in Chicago have underscored the beauty — the necessity, really — of heeding those words. We bought a house here, started a business here, become parents here, all major events requiring momentum and energy and a deep well of motivation to keep.on.moving.
And there is so much good at the other end of this emotion-fueled month. A dear friend reminded me, when I shared my emotions about leaving, that instead of seeing minimagpie at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning as I’d always dreamed — we’d have the Rockettes, ice skating in Central Park, the total and utter magic of Christmas in New York City. So many incredible experiences for our little city girl just around the corner, and every opportunity awaits her.
Man oh man am I feeling those firsts and lasts right now, and, while I know I’ve spent the majority of this post dwelling on the heartache of leaving this home and all it’s represented behind…
I am also, still, beneath it all, ECSTATIC.
New York, people. Ho-hum, here we go to the center of the universe.
Also: the suddenness of the move has led to many a sleepless night cluttered with “what do we do about…” and “oh my god, what about…?” and “I have to remember…” To distract myself, I putz around looking for pretty things. Below, some of my latest finds:
+This statement sweater is SO FUN.
+This is the kind of Christmas gift I’d love to give minimagpie. So adorable. Not sure we’ll have room anymore for these kinds of indulgences.
+This dress is sort of magical.
+This book has been a fluffy, delicious distraction from all of the chaos happening in our home right now.
+I love this sweater. The shape is so fashion-forward!
+The scarf print on this shift dress is amazing, and looks much higher end than the price tag suggests!
+I love this scarf cape thing in the yummiest camel color.
+I could find an infinite number of places in my home to style one of these — in a window, by the kitchen sink, nestled among cookbooks…