I’m writing this while perched on the edge of the bathtub in our new apartment because there aren’t any seats here yet — but the Internet is cruising. (#Priorities.) Mr. Magpie is at our old apartment supervising the moving-out process and I’ve been uptown with our pup, micro, and nanny and I find myself suddenly with nothing to do. It is quiet. My errands are run. And so I thought I’d sit and say hello from this purgatory, a wayfarer unloading her thoughts while in transit.
Today, we moved. Or — we are moving as I write this. I can’t quite figure out how I feel, which is strange for me and my verbose, hyper-aware-of-how-I-feel self. I can usually at least categorize my mood as “good” or “bad,” but right now I principally feel distracted–too scattered and preoccupied to take my own pulse. I guess the emotional forecast is partly cloudy skies. I have felt something like exuberance as I’ve explored our new neighborhood which, so far, I much prefer to our old one, though both are on the beautiful UWS. It’s more neighborhoody, cozy, quiet, and family-oriented up here. Fewer agony-inducing disturbances (like that time I saw a pack of teens shooting heroin while walking Tilly), more strollers. We used to live down by Columbus Circle / Lincoln Center, and there is a lot more tourist traffic and general mayhem in those parts.
My excitement about our new neighborhood froths up further whenever I enter our new apartment, as it is far brighter and more spacious, and micro will have his own nursery, and I will have enough space in our bedroom to position my writing desk. The prospect of closing a door and writing in my own room is beyond delicious to me, and I understand more keenly than ever some of the more surface-level musings in Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” (I say surface-level, as her essay is more engaged with gender dynamics in The Canon than it is with Manhattan real estate problems. Ha.) I expect more of this kind of writing to ensue, though — if I may be so bold as to classify that piece as “good” — good writing can happen close to anywhere if the emotional headwinds are strong enough. After all, I wrote that particular post in between frantic sessions with Mr. Magpie, strategizing about this move, while I was still recovering from a mysterious virus and my world felt topsy-turvy.
So there is excitement. And there is also a lingering stress — will we need to make more trips back to the old apartment? What about our fridge — how and when will we transports its contents North? And there is so much to buy for the new apartment. I’ve drawn up a wishlist and am awaiting a conversation with Mr. Magpie to set a budget and prioritize. I have “a bias for action” (Mr. Magpie’s gently chiding description) and so am anxious to have everything set up and unboxed and livable.
At the same time, I found myself farklempt when I saw mini playing amongst the boxes in our old apartment, and when I hacked together her bedtime routine on the night before we moved. The movers had accidentally packed her blanket and pillow, and I have no idea how I managed to track down a spare baby blanket and pillow of micro’s that just happened to have been left unpacked and afloat in one of the closet. God was looking out for us, I suppose. “I’ll spare you a meltdown tonight,” He said. I was sad, though, that she didn’t have a normal experience on her last night in our little alcove off Central Park West, but I let that bizarre thought drift right out of my mind, too preoccupied with other concerns, like whether the packers had actually packed enough of the apartment (they had left all of the closets untouched which — yikes).
Anyhow, as I sat in the silver-gray twilight of her bedroom, her warm little body on my lap, her head resting on my chest, reading her one of her favorite books, Harry the Dirty Dog (thank you to the reader who suggested this one! An instant classic chez Mapgie! — P.S. More great bedtime books for children here), I felt a swell of nostalgia catch in my throat. How many hundreds of nights have I sat there with her in my arms, repeating the same affirmations and reading the same books and singing the same lullabies? How many mornings have I walked into her petite room to rouse her — one of my favorite moments of any day?
Oh, I am a silly-heart, and saccharine to boot, but it left me teary-eyed thinking of the many happy and exhausting days we have had in Old Louise.
The day we brought micro home from the hospital, for example. (My heart breaks writing that sentence, as he is now four months and the newborn days are behind us, and I can’t stop thumbing through pictures of him at three days and one week and eleven days and — oh please! I feel ten ways about his growing up. Relieved that we are sleeping better than before, excited for the many firsts around the corner, but damned heartbroken at the prospect of his increasing alertness and independence.)
When I found out I was pregnant with Hill — in the bathroom off our master bedroom, pacing back and forth, vibrating with excitement and shock.
When my sister moved back to New York.
When we found out my other sister was engaged.
When we sold our first home.
But also the moments between the drumbeats — the silences, the nothings, the grout between the cracks — like the nitty gritty of learning to be a mother to two children, the infinite soothings of skinned knees and bumped elbows, the ritual of bathtime in that damned glass-doored bath tub where you could only ever reach half of the water at a time because the other half was barricaded off by the sliding glass door, the triumphant high-fives Mr. Magpie and I often exchange when both babies are down for the night, the evening pitter patter of mini’s feet to greet her father at the door, the constant disciplining of a large airedale who tends to bark whenever anyone is in the hallway, the folding of tiny baby clothing in anxious anticipation, the boxing of too-small baby clothing in wistful nostalgia, the uncorking of celebratory bottles of wine — and bottles of wine for no reason at all, the exchange and opening of Christmas gifts, the morning brewing of coffee, the tip-toeing around a bassinet. All of these petits riens that together feel like the densest, richest pastiche of a very full, occasionally nutty, life with young children I adore and a husband I love and a dog who only occasionally tolerates me.
We are on to better things up here, but goodbyes are hard for me, and hellos can be tricky, too. I like the lived-in-at-the-seams core, where everything feels comfortable and routine and I am mistress of my own domain. We will get there.
There is a section from the poet Antonio Machado’s “Proverbs and Canticles” on wayfaring that springs to mind at this moment of transition:
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más
In English: “Wayfarer, the only way is your footsteps, there is no other.”
Onward we go, caminante.
+We will need a large rug for mini’s room and I sought the input of my dear friend and interior designer Jen Hunter as to where to look for something practical (i.e., non-white and not-too-precious), as we are still running into accidents now and then and mini loves to streak her yogurt-y or chocolate-y fingers all over the place. She immediately suggested Albert & Dash. My challenge now is to pick a pattern that isn’t too girly, as we intend to eventually move both children into the same room and it would be lovely to pre-empt the need to redecorate mini’s room from start to finish again in another year. I’m thinking of leaning into green for her room, as the glider we have for her is a beautiful green and white seersucker and — curiously, fortuitously, the previous tenants in our apartment left a beautiful set of green plaid draperies that coordinate with a window seat cushion in her room. I’ll take that as a sign. I’m considering this, this (too much pink?), this. I also liked this green one from Lulu and Georgia, this “merchant” style from C&B, and this affordable Nuloom (probably too easy to dirty).
+Swooning over this cardigan!
+These loafers are actual perfection.
+I need help expanding mini’s palette. She used to be so adventurous, and — just like that — we’re in an infinity loop of butter noodles, chicken, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit. Help! Any recommendations on good cookbooks? Considering this one.
+Had to have these corduroy overalls for micro.
+I had similar mottled emotions the day we sold our house…