A Day in the Life: Starting Over


There are few events as disruptive for a little kid as moving day, especially when you’re leaving everything and everyone you know for some distant place that takes two days to get to in the old station wagon. You love your home, you love the ocean. The sights, sounds and smells on the docks are magical. You know you will miss them. There is no ocean where you are going. You will especially miss your best boy, who lives right across the street. The two of you are inseparable; together, you collect tadpoles in your pockets in the “swamp” at the bottom of the hill and you climb the stone walls, exploring and finding salamanders and other treasures. You practically live in one another’s homes.

You will kind of miss visiting your nutty relatives. Your uncle who makes the world’s best fried chicken has other talents, too. He can eat peas with a knife and carry six cups and saucers with coffee lined up on his arm without dropping them. Your other aunt and uncle have a neato-keen English pub in their basement, and she has the most delightful English accent. And then there’s your other aunt, the voice of gloom and doom, who hides under the bed whenever there are thunderstorms. You will miss visiting your great aunt and uncle, who live in an old, stately apartment building overlooking the park, where you can sit outside and feed the birds while the grownups watch you from their apartment above. You love the aroma of the polished, old wood, the checkered marble tile floors and the ironwork of the elevator that transports you up to their hot, stuffy apartment.

You will miss your home, except for the brown bathroom upstairs. Ever since the day the toilet overflowed, you’ve avoided going in there, and each time you pass by it on the landing, your step quickens. The brown bathroom terrifies you. You have your own room, with two sunny windows and flowered wallpaper. Your bed is pushed up against the wall, where as a toddler, you decorated it with crayons almost before the wallpaper paste was even dry. You love your pale blue, plush rug that covers the hardwood floor. It’s a big house, with four levels and a whole-house fan on the top floor (where the brown bathroom is). Bookshelves filled with your mom’s books span the entire breadth of the living room, surrounding the fireplace. You and your next older brother play “guess what book I’m thinking about” and hang upside down on the overstuffed chairs in there.

The dining room, with its knotty pine walls and many cabinets, holds many memories: family dinners with all the relatives; school and art projects spread out all over the maple table with all the leaves in; you and your big brother sitting in the corner in your little parkas, waiting for Dad to take you to school because you missed the bus. The two of you were upstairs; he was drawing a picture of a fanciful castle for you, complete with crenelated turrets and colorful standards waving in the breeze. By the time you heard the squealing of the brakes as the bus arrived at your stop, it was too late to run and catch it.

You’ll miss the river down at the bottom of the hilly road that runs by your house, where Dad taught you how to swim, where you brothers always go fishing, and where you once crashed your brother’s English racer into a tree because you didn’t know how to use hand brakes. You’ll miss the cliffs behind the across-the-street neighbor’s house and garage, where you and your best boy like to go exploring. There will never be another sledding hill like the one in your back yard, or a sand pile like the one where you and your older brother have played for many hours building sand castles.

You don’t want to move, but you are just a little girl, you have no choice. You go where the family goes. As unhappy as you are to leave your best boy and everything behind, you are a little excited about embarking on a new adventure. The family packs into the two-tone green Ford station wagon for the two-day drive to your new home. Your best boy is there to see you off, in his sky blue checked shirt, navy blue shorts and blue sneakers with the rubber toes. As the wagon pulls out of the driveway, you stare out the window in the way back, waving goodbye until he’s out of sight.

The drive is a long one with a car full of kids. You have games and books to keep you busy, but you all get on each other’s nerves in no time. “It smells in here. Who pooped?” “Ye who smelt it, dealt it.” “Get away! Quit touching me.” “Don’t LOOK at me. Mom, she’s looking at me.” “How much longer?” “When will be there?” “I’m hungry.” “I have to go potty!” The chatter is endless. Your parents are used to the noise and only occasionally does Dad have to threaten to “stop this car and get out.”

You think the trip will never end. You have no idea what’s in store for you and you are already homesick. When you cry, Mom and Dad reassure you that you will love your new home, that you will make new friends and that everything will be all right. You don’t  believe them, but what can you do? You stare out the window and watch the cars go by.

There is one thing you know you can count on as the miles fly by. Dairy Queen. Dad is constitutionally unable to pass a Dairy Queen without stopping. You and your brothers are always on the lookout for the familiar sign with the ice cream cone. There’s one! It’s summer, it’s hot, the kids are tired and cranky. What could be better than a Buster Bar to pick up the mood? You forget your misery as you slurp your favorite cherry Mr. Misty and your little brother makes a mess with his chocolate dipped cone. Maybe everything will be all right, after all.


About Peace Penguin

Just a penguin on the path to choosing peace.
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