In 2006, we moved three times and lived in four different homes. That year was one of the most disruptive and challenging of our marriage to date.
The small one-bedroom apartment that housed our family of three was situated on the edge of the bay. Living adjacent to the water was a feature so appealing to us when we bought the business upstairs, but terrified the new mother in me. With a low retaining wall and an active 18-month old, we knew our days were numbered.
Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom home with an attached garage, flagstone fireplace, outdoor hot tub, sprawling deck and ocean views had its appeal. We schlepped our belongings the one-mile south to the redwood-paneled house on the golf course and unloaded the filled-to-the-brim moving truck that carted forgotten goods from our storage unit.
Once we unpacked and filled the rooms, we started acquiring more stuff. We had an almost 2-year-old and there is a lot of kid-gadgetry that comes with the territory. As diligent as we were about only having the basics, people are kind and loved to shower our baby boy with stuffed animals, board books and the occasional battery operated nightmare—also known as toys that people without kids give to people who have kids. We somehow avoided receiving a drum set and counted ourselves lucky.
We settled into this home for a couple of years and during that time we slowly accumulated more and more items that we thought we needed and couldn’t live without. When our lease was up and it came time to move, we did so in a hurry. I was a one-woman show running our small business and my husband was now selling coastal real estate. Did I mention we had a 3-year-old and no family living nearby? It was a lot for us at the time.
On a cold, drizzly February day, we hurriedly packed the moving truck and moved a few miles across the bay to one of my husband’s empty real estate listings. Later that afternoon, he walked in and told me to stop unpacking the kitchen. I gave him a puzzled look and he immediately shared that he’d just sold the house we moved into. This timing was both good and bad. He needed the sale, we needed the money—but we needed a place to live and little time to find it, much less pack up another truck and make the move. We had 30 days to get our shit together and move, again.
My husband was already on top of fixing this station and shared that another one of his clients had a home that was available to move into right now. The prospective rental was back in the planned community on the golf course (where we had just moved from), but I was a little gun-shy due to our current client-realtor situation. We didn’t have a lot of options and ended up signing a six-month lease. We called our trusty moving truck company, once again, and moved into a three-bedroom house, with a built-in sauna, cherry wood floors and a modern, updated kitchen.
While living in this third home and working with an architect to build our dream home, I decided that I was tired of moving; tired of renting; tired of the upheaval; tired of giving landlords our hard earned cash; tired of living in homes that didn’t feel like us. I would stay up late at night combing my husband’s real estate website and looking for listings that would allow for our son to run on the grass (the golf course community frowned on this) and wide-open spaces for him to explore and be a kid. We shelved the plans to build our newly designed home and made a Plan B.
By September of 2006, we closed escrow on a property seven miles southeast of Bodega Bay in a small farming community with a population sign that read 126. At the top of a dead-end dirt gravel road, our one-acre parcel shared fencing with grazing dairy cows and free-range llamas. The 1950’s two-bedroom, one-bath farmhouse was, and still is, perfect for our family.
Our new home had a few outbuildings and plenty of open space for our 3-and-a-half-year-old to frolic, get dirty and get lost in his imagination.
Moving your stuff this many times in six months really helps you to think about why you carry all of it around with you. We had many questions to answer. What did we really need? What was essential? Why do we own three whisks? When exactly did my chair fetish begin? Why was it so hard for me to part with my son’s jogging stroller?
As soon as we moved in and started making this house our home, the donation piles started to accumulate. I would pack up my car once a month and drive the 12 miles into town to offload it at our local thrift shop. I immediately felt lighter, both literally and figuratively.
This final move would mark the beginning of my quest to purge the unnecessary from our lives.
And moving again?
Not an option.