Mom moves every Summer and Daddy moves just about every other. They are renters, so.
Mom sees moving as a fresh start. I don’t know about Daddy.
We kids love moving since we don’t ever have to switch schools. I could shoot a spitball to a house I’ve lived in before ‘cause I’ve lived in every neighborhood in this town. Except for Stoney-Brook. That’s for Rich B*tches.
The next place is always more interesting than the last, anyway. An attic. A sloped driveway. A shorter walk to the sandwich shop.
We’ve traded before a yard with an apple tree for a yard with a creek running through it-- so even though we didn’t have homemade applesauce anymore, we had crawdaddies.
Mom always hangs a paddle by the storm door that says:
“Home is Where the Heart Is.”
Daddy always hangs a crucifix in the bedroom.
“What is our address, Mom?”
“What’s the address?”
“You been livin’ here for 7 months and you don’t know the damn address?”
When I get older I move to the city: Louisville, Kentucky. I live there for six years and I move six times.
12 months is a really long time, though, so what I would do was by 4 months I rearranged all the furniture at least twice, by 7 months I went back to the initial moving-in layout (so as to rekindle what I once had with the place), and then by 10 months I started lookin for another apartment.
A boy, Math, came to my fourth apartment. The nicest one so far. The apartment, not the boy. Well, the boy, too. But this apartment has exposed brick and a fire escape.
Math on speakerphone: “Which one is it?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
I walk outside and wave.
Math on speakerphone: “I see you!”
He did a U-Turn in the middle of the road and parked. He walked up to the sidewalk and looked at the old building. He was impressed. There are not really apartments like this where he and I are from. I forgot. Now I’m proud.
I want him to think of me as a cool girl.
Math on my sidewalk: “What the hell? How do you always find the cutest apartments?”
Me: “Wait ‘til you see the inside, I’ve made it really cozy, I got two new plants, and I play music videos and stuff on the TV.”
Math came to my sixth apartment. A fridge with a water dispenser. An island in the kitchen. Sorry about the cat hair. He’s new.
We fell in love. Perfect timing: my lease was ending.
I moved to his. Sweet. Giant windows. A guaranteed parking spot. Pet-friendly.
We decided we’d be better off in LA. Perfect timing: his lease was ending.
I wasn’t worried about being homesick: I didn’t have a home to miss. All those homes have families in them now and all of those families have probably reached a month-to-month agreement. I’d be Father and Friend-sick.
I think of the corny paddle by the storm door.
I pack a crucifix to hang in our future bedroom.
We didn’t use cardboard boxes. We stuffed everything in the car and anything that couldn’t fit, we sold. This made me feel like Marie Kondo or something like that.
The new place has glass-paned French doors, a gas stove, and lots of places for a cat to hide.
Math has to work all day. I will thank him for working so hard by moving every single thing out of both of our cars and up 32 stairs.
(I felt good when I started to unload my car because I knew the only things we had were the things we truly wanted and needed and that made the repeated trips up the steep stairs worth it.)
I thought: If I am able to carry most of this stuff myself, stuff we brought across the country, then we can move anywhere. And before I could start unpacking Math’s car, I was thinking about moving somewhere else.
Time for me to rearrange the apartment back to the initial moving-in layout. What was it again? But we have an extra couch now.
I walk around the apartment and mentally measure the living room.
I could just leave it. It looks pretty nice. The television fits between the couches perfectly and Math’s desk fits like a Lego behind it.
I’ll just leave it.
I walk through the kitchen.
I discover a lightswitch on the wall. The ceiling fan is also a light?
I imagine Math saying something like:
“You been livin’ here for 7 months and you’re just now discovering the damn light switch?”
I laugh to myself. I feel happy and not guilty about this, hearing it in his voice. I flick the switch and literally see the kitchen in a different light.
I behold all of our appliances in the new yellow glow. I stare at them for that amount of time that would make someone snap their fingers in front of your face.
I was so happy.
Not in the the kitchen feels new again kind of way, but in the
I will be happy staying an indefinite amount of time here kind of way.
Sally Sum is from Kentucky. Currently living in Los Angeles, she tends to a massive cat and likes to act and write scary stories. She would like you to watch her new short film: Bats.