We are moving. For us it has been a heart rendering and difficult decision. Most people I talk to about it think that we are kind of silly. And kind of making too big a deal of it. My ex-boss told me today that me quitting Diet Coke was more life changing than the move we are going to make. I have to disagree.
I moved to Hawaii around 17 years ago. That is so shocking. Yet utterly true. I moved with a boy, for a boy. Generally a dumb reason but there it is. I remember we got some tips on where to look for a place to live from a co-worker of his. We were told to look in Makiki because it was close to the University of Hawaii where my ex would be going to graduate school. We arrived in Hawaii with our package deal and had about three hotel nights to find a place to live. Looking back it was kind of crazy and, I feel undoable in this day and age. But we did it. We looked at three places and decided on a small six unit walkup right up the road from the freeway and close to a bus stop that went to UH.
When we moved in we met D & E who lived in the two bedroom upstairs and Mrs. Lee who lived in the downstairs two bedroom and fed all the stray cats. Florence lived in the other downstairs one bedroom next to us . She was a retiree with a little dog who swore that lime juice was good for her arthritis and planted a lime tree that is still downstairs to this day. The guy who lives next door to us today (upstairs one bedroom) was also here when I first moved in. We don’t know his name and he keeps mostly to himself. Very quiet and rarely seen. In the front house lives the family of the owners who are very friendly and we still see quite often. Mrs. Lee passed away some time ago and Florence’s family decided she was no longer able to live on her own. For a while there was a cast of characters coming in and out of the vacant units. A couple of girls who would come home late and make lots of noise. They were evicted. Mr. M. who engaged in loud sexual escapades very late into the night. D. would act as a sort of caretaker around the place constantly puttering about, spraying for roaches around the perimeter of the building, taking care of the plants and fixing the table out by the washer and dryer. I loved our little sense of community. And the clothesline out back. There is nothing better than wind dried sheets.
When I first moved in with the ex, I lived in the ground floor one bedroom apartment but moved upstairs when the Chinese family who was in that unit moved out. Eventually I became single and then together and ended up with a kid. D. had a stroke and seemed to be improving steadily till one day he wasn’t. Our son just kept growing and eventually we gave him the bedroom and moved into the living room. Today we live within each other’s space with nary a hair of alone time. We have gotten used to it but lately when I look at my nine year old son, I can see that he is getting too big to keep living like this. To keep trying to purge and shuffle and reorganize ourselves into some unattainable configuration that will make it all right.
We had talked about moving but part of the problem of being in the same place for so long is that you don’t want to come out from under the less-than-market- value rent being paid. Then there’s the traffic situation we would encounter if we moved someplace out of town. So we just sat and stewed and did nothing. Until we got a call two weeks ago. One of our uncles has a place in town. One street over and two blocks up from where we are now. His son had been in it but moved back to the mainland. It has two bedrooms and a washer and dryer in the unit. It sounded like heaven. We hemmed and hawed but eventually committed. We picked up the keys to the new place and will be moving in over the next few weeks.
We definitely struggled with this decision. We felt sentimental about leaving this place. The place where our son has been growing for so long. But we also knew that we would not get a better offer and if we didn’t move now, we never would. On Saturday as we were going to meet friends we ran into E. We asked about D. since we hadn’t seen him around. I thought that maybe he was in the hospital. They had recently moved from the upstairs two bedroom to the downstairs one bedroom under us since he wasn’t able to navigate the stairs anymore. E. told us that D. had passed away. She told us that his service had been that day and she had just gotten back. I gave her a hug. She said that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do now. We parted ways in the driveway. And in some ways, that made it final and real for us. We are sad to be leaving but the simple pleasure of being able to get changed in the bedroom and not the bathroom. Of potentially us all being at home and not on top of each other. Of giving our son more room to grow and thrive. We are ready.