By December 15, 2012, we will have moved our family four times in 18 months. From New Jersey to Atlanta and back home. But when we move to our house in New Providence, New Jersey, we’re done.
We’re done moving.
It’s the promise we’ve made to ourselves and to our kids. We simply can’t do it anymore, Karen and I. And our kids can’t do it either. They’re done. And so are we.
We’ve taken to calling the new house our “forever house.” Where we will live forever. This has to be true for us. We have to tell ourselves this is true. Mostly because we feel so fragile that we just might break for good if we have to move again. And if we were really honest with ourselves, which we certainly are not, we’re afraid our kids will break. Yes, kids are flexible. Yes, they bounce back. But a rubber band stretched too many times loses its ability to bounce back. Or worse, it becomes thin and worn and snaps. And all of us are feeling a little thin and worn, not just by the moving but also by life.
2012 was a lot. Among the many things...the death of a father at the beginning of the year. And a hurricane at the end of October that wiped out our second car and destroyed too many belongings in storage, flooding them with river+sewage water that came rushing back from the ocean.
But. This is the best we’ve been in a long time. We’re home, almost. Almost. And we’re almost feeling happy.
We’re staying in a temporary apartment while we wait to close on our house. Five people in a very small two-bedroom apartment. Three kids in two beds. It’s tight. Incredibly so. But we’re OK.
There is an empty apartment down the hallway from us. But two nights after the hurricane, we saw two Weimaraners poke their noses around the corner, dragging their owner, Amy, down the hallway. She and her niece were refugees from Hoboken, New Jersey. Their condo had flooded, water at least four feet high. Nearly all their belongings destroyed, they had grabbed clothes and the dogs and found themselves in our apartment building, dragging giant trash bags full of their wet clothes into their temporary home.
I had spent the day cleaning out our storage space after Karen took the kids to stay with her mom and stepfather in Pennsylvania, in an attempt to bring some sort of normalcy from a time filled with not-normal. I stayed in New Jersey, trying to save thousands of pictures in albums, throwing away mattresses and furniture. I got the easier of the two responsibilities.
Walking into our apartment building, there sat Amy and her niece and their dogs, waiting for the building custodian to unlock their apartment. I was covered in the remnants of river water that had flaked off our belongings. When she saw me, Amy said, “I bet I had a worse day than you did, and you look pretty bad.” I told her to try me.
“I lost my car,” she said.
“Nice. So did I. Try again,” I said.
A smile on her face. “I lost my home. And everything in it.”
We both started laughing, because if you don’t...well.
The next morning, we baked our new neighbors a loaf of Alice Currah’s Sour Cream Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Because when the chocolate chips are still warm and melty, there’s nothing more comforting to eat, especially when you need some energy to just keep going.
We’ve made a lot of Alice’s food this year, ever since we received a copy of her new cookbook, Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion. It’s joined the ranks of The Pioneer Woman's and Melissa Clark’s cookbooks in our house. That means we really cook from it. Every week. Because the food is good and reliable and comforting and filling. And honestly, we don’t have time to fuck around with food lately. It needs to be good so we can get on with life.
One of the most filling soups we’ve ever had is Alice’s Smoky Corn Chowder. Usually, it takes hours to get any depth of flavor. Quick soups usually taste like water and shortcuts. But this chowder is quick and memorable and terribly comforting. You'll have to buy the book to get that recipe. Money well spent. We depend on this book. And so will you.
Two of you are going to win a copy of it just by leaving a comment below. Tell us what you’re thankful for. That’s it. And thanks to William Morrow for making these two copies available for the giveaways and for our review copy.
We’ll go first. We’re thankful for our forever house. And for being a family. No matter what.
Congratulations to Jen Caplet and Betty Ann Besa-Quirino who each won a copy of Alice's book!