That’s how many they packed for their last move to a new apartment in Manhattan.
That’s the number for the move three years later.
On Saturday, Pam and I helped our daughter and son-in-law, Maggy and Andy, move into their new apartment in New York. After years of renting, they finally bought their own home.
Besides all the lifting and heaving that has me popping Advil for my aches, helping your kids move into their first home is a moment fraught with reverie and nostalgia. The first home Pam and I bought was a three-bedroom white clapboard house with a breakfast nook and a bay window in leafy Geneva, Illinois. Our kids were moving into a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a pre-War building on 114th Street in Harlem. The more things change the more they stay the same: eight boxes to thirty. The accumulation has begun.
Moving is famously stressful, and it was for Maggy and Andy. They said they hardly slept the few nights before the truck arrived, but mostly it was simple excitement and so much to think about. Would the new dining room table fit? Would their neighbors like them? Could they afford to redo the dingy bathroom?
It was all the excitement of a start-up operation. This was just their first house on Baltic Avenue. In time there would be more little green houses on the board, then a big red hotel. I remember that feeling. You buy a place you can fix up, sell and move into something bigger. You decorate somewhat for your own taste, but always with an eye to resale value. It was fun to be on the start-up team and remember those days. The joy of these moments is simply in seeing the life cycle make a looping spiral and come back to the same place, only twenty-five years later. It doesn’t matter that you “know better” now, and wouldn’t lose sleep over things like bathroom tile, wouldn’t triple your box count in three years. It’s just good to go back there and help the next generation pass GO and collect that two hundred dollars.
Parents and adult children get into conflict over control, Mom and Dad trying to tell the kids what to do, how to live their lives. Best just to be there, ask what you can do, get a bottle of Windex and start cleaning kitchen cabinets, keep your “suggestions” to yourself. With any luck, grandchildren will come along one day and then you will have an ally. As the old joke goes, the reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is—they have a common enemy.
In the mean time, it’s a blessed thing to see yourself—in your children—starting out once again on this long journey and noting with deep joy and assurance that it all seems to keep going, world without end. Amen.