As one door closes...
This is a big week in our household: on Wednesday we'll be closing the door on our first American home and moving a few blocks over to our new place. No longer will we be high-rise city apartment dwellers; we're setting up home in a proper grown-up house with three bedrooms, a garden (ok, tiny concrete yard, but we'll take anything we can get in Center City Philadelphia) and a kitchen with an island unit. Be still my beating heart.
This is a move I've been gunning for for a while. Our modern 2-bed apartment was perfect for us when we moved in nearly 2.5 years ago with a few suitcases, a couple of boxes of books and pictures, and a modest Ikea shopping list to get it furnished. In our pre-baby life I loved being able to lounge on the communal rooftop terrace and host movie nights in the Theater room. My guilt at avoiding the well-equipped gym was assuaged by regular use of the lovely indoor pool (which always seems to be empty - why??), and as my pregnancy progressed I spent many happy hours doing lengths and dreaming of the baby we were ever closer to meeting. And the apartment continued to serve us well in the newborn months, when the proximity of changing table to washing machine to kettle was a big bonus. It also brought new pleasures, such as the delighted interest of the lovely front desk staff and older neighbours in the building, who suddenly wanted to stop and chat and admire our growing little bundle.
But during the course of last spring and summer, as E morphed from a static baby in to a tiny wrecking ball, crawling, then walking and now running around every inch of space and trailing a wake of toy, book and saucepan-based destruction behind her, I've found myself desperate for more room. We've agonised over evicting her from her bedroom every time we've had guests to stay, the guilt mounting each night we've put her to bed in a travel cot in my husband's closet (affectionately, although not entirely jokingly, termed her 'Harry Potter cupboard'). In the warm summer months, I longed for the convenient shade of a garden to set up a play mat or water table, instead of having to haul her (and the multitude of snacks, sun protection and changing stuff that accompanies any toddler) out to brave the summer heat at the park once again.
Autumn brought the exciting (and slightly terrifying) news that this coming June our little family will expand once more, and the thought of having TWO little ones room in with us as we host the plethora of family visitors this summer soon prompted the start of the search for a proper house. I am thrilled with the place we've found - great neighbourhood, still walking distance from my husband's work, all the space we could want and more. It really is a find - I couldn't be happier. And yet, as move day has drawn ever closer, I've found myself becoming increasingly wistful....
In leaving behind our apartment, we are closing the door not only on the first place we called home in America, but more importantly on our first family home. The place to which we returned in a state of blissful exhaustion with our two-day old daughter. The climate controlled sanctuary my husband worked tirelessly to create in a bid to maintain a perfectly regulated temperature for our newborn daughter's first weeks. The floor where she first rolled, and sat up, and took those initial wobbly steps. The carpet that is littered with the stains of her first tastes. The bathroom where I trembled with joy as I learnt our family was to grow from two, to three, to four.
I know these four walls cannot contain us forever. I know we will love the new house and appreciate all the extra room we have to enjoy. But as we close the door on our apartment this week, I will probably shed a quick tear for all the firsts we are leaving behind and all the love they have brought with them. If our new home brings us half the joy again, we will be very lucky indeed.