Move on….

Why is moving so hard?

I’m not talking about packing boxes and sorting your forks and spoons and getting the courage to part with that coat from 1986 you love so much. I’m talking about the memories you make. I’ve lived in many houses and apartments. Some I don’t remember, some I think of fondly, but 272 Midland Avenue is the one I think I’ll remember the most….

I moved out of NYC in 2006, into a gorgeous 1927 Georgian Colonial. 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, lots of money to spare. The booming real estate market was crazy in NYC, and the profits enabled me to renovate the bathrooms, outfit a new kitchen and drive a Range Rover around town. But my beautiful home  was just a band-aid for an ailing marriage. The pool, the rose garden, the cars…there was nothing I could do to save it, and soon I found myself in the role of single mom.

My new house was known around town as “The brown house.” And boy, was it brown. Light brown. With dark brown trim. The inside had brown walls and a brown fireplace, and dreary wallpaper that looked like maybe at one time it had been cheery, but now it was just…brown. The kitchen floor was covered in aging linoleum. The garden was full of weeds. The rooms throughout the house ached of age and neglect. Friends and family came and couldn’t hide their looks of despair. Yes, it was all a bit downhill. Even my children hated the place. My daughter dubbed it  “Home, Horrible Home.” They didn’t see what I saw. It was all mine.

The movers dumped  boxes in my living room and in my backyard in the middle of a freezing cold January afternoon. Without help, it took me ages to unpack them. Some weeks there were boxes covered in snow outside my window. I unpacked and painted. I frequented flea markets. I tore clippings out of magazines. I ran my store. I planned and I schemed. We ate a lot of pizza. Some nights I danced around the house with a bottle of wine, giddy with my newfound freedom. Other nights I sobbed, as I wondered what on earth I had gotten into, especially when I couldn’t fix a TV, a computer broke, or a toilet wouldn’t flush. Slowly, however, the house began to take shape.

Somewhere in the midst of all of the chaos, I found Ian. We daydreamed about having a baby, and eventually we were blessed with Eliza. The spare room became a nursery. As my pregnancy went on and I became more and more sick, I spent most afternoons in the den watching episodes of the Dr. Phil show. There were the nights my husband spent pacing the floors, wondering if I would ever return home as I lay in the ICU, suffering from acute liver failure after delivering our baby 2 months early. There was the morning I sat on the front porch when my doctor confirmed that there was indeed cancer raging within my liver. There were the days I couldn’t get out of bed, sick from chemotherapy. We finally brought home our 5-lb. baby girl after a month-long stay in the NICU. There were Christmas trees and Easter egg hunts here. There were birthday parties and trick-or-treaters. Eliza slept in the stroller while I planted flowers in the summer. The warm sunroom became a favorite spot while Maddie and I waited for her 7 am school bus during the bleak winters.

I  get a lump in my throat as my eyes scan the rooms and I take an inventory of all of my days here. There’s the hydrangea I planted that never really blooms well. It gets too much shade and not enough sun.The floors creak on the second floor staircase and the air conditioner is too noisy on the third floor. But I love the smell of the garden in the morning. I love hearing the train when it starts running at 5:30 am. I love the rush of cars as parents drive their kids to school. I’ll miss the coffee at Bluestone Coffee Company in Watchung Plaza. I’ll miss the squirrel who broke into my bird feeder every summer. I’ll miss the buds that appear in April outside the kitchen window and turn from pink to green, and then  to red, before  they quietly flutter from their branches. I’ll miss my street with its shady oak trees, and the seasonal flowers that begin with tulips, then peonies, lilies, black-eyed Susans, and finally end with mums and  pumpkins.

Change is a good thing. I really became who I am in this house. Being on my own was hard. But I did it. We did it. Ian’s arrival turned my house into a home. Eliza’s arrival made us all a family. People say to me “Wow…I wish I could move to California.” Well, what are you waiting for? Make a change. Be brave. You only get one chance, one life. Move on. Cry a little, pack your bags. And go.









































32 Responses to Move on….

  1. Chris says:

    Best of luck Jennifer! I’ll enjoy hearing about your West Coast adventure…


  2. Luci Terhune says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. There are many women out there living the life you were living and terrified to do something about it. Maybe one of them will read this post & get the courage to do what you did.
    Best of luck to you and your family in California and I look forward to reading about your new life. Oh, by the way, your dining room chairs look fabulous in my dining room.. I’ll have to email you a picture.

  3. Suzanne says:

    What a beautifully written post. Inspiring, really. I know that it’s terribly difficult to leave the nest of a home that you’ve nurtured for years. As a native Californian, I wish for you that the new home you make here will be just as wonderful!

  4. Sharon says:

    Lovely, lovely. Proud of you for all of it, friend. xo

  5. Noel Oakley says:

    That was very touching. What a wonderful story! It brought tears to my eyes, but in a happy way. I’m so happy for you and your wonderful family. Best of luck with your new beginning!

  6. tina says:

    Wise words, especially the ones about change. Blessings to you and your beautiful family as you move on.

  7. Donna says:

    You have a beautiful family and I’m sure you’ll all be happy in your new home.

  8. Jackie says:

    Change is good. Stepping outside of our comfort zone makes us strong. Your next chapter awaits you! Wishing you health and happiness – – Jackie Wind

  9. LINDA G says:

    Oh, Jennifer, your writing is poignant and heart-wrenching….having met you in the big brick Georgian and cringed along with others in the beginnings of the “brown house”, watching the transformation of you AND the house evolve….I consider you a super-hero – Wonder Woman? Supergirl? All of them combined….you are truly remarkable – I know you have your down-days, but your spirit is inspiring…..Wishing you and Ian and the children a peaceful transition to California…hope to see you there!

  10. joanne nixon says:

    california will bring a new world around you…it is exciting….bittersweet to leave the old, embrace the new…you will always have the memories of good times and even the dark “brown” times will tell you that ..YES, you not only survived, but you flourished as well.

    surely will be watching you and eagerly await the postings on the adventures you are about to have…we’ll be traveling with you….good luck and godspeed!

  11. Jerry Tropp says:

    Beautiful in every way Jen. An emotional roller coaster…but what a ride! You have had a hell of a life to this point. May the miracles continue.

    As you begin a new chapter, may all your dreams come true. California is finally getting some quality residents!

    Gardens all-year long…no snow…..idyllic. Lucky!

    All the best to you, Ian and the rest of the clan. Keep in touch.

  12. Ian says:

    Ahh my love, tears xxx

  13. Susan Smith says:

    WOW… written with soo much soul! The picture of your husband and little one is THE BEST!

  14. Jodi says:

    This blog was just beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us. The more I learn about you and your life the more you inspire me. I wish you nothing less than love, happiness and health in your new home!

  15. Cindy Shaw says:

    That was a beautiful post, Jennifer. Wishing you lots of love as you all start the next phase of your fabulous adventure!! xo

  16. Jules says:

    Beautiful Beautiful!
    We’re excited to have you in Cali!
    Enjoy this exciting time!

  17. Tammy says:

    What a heartwarming story…thank you for sharing a bit of you and your life. Wishing you and your beautiful family, love, strength, and a lot of new wonderful memories. Your courage and strength is truly inspiring and wish you all the best on your new journey.

  18. Nori R says:

    What a beautiful, hopeful post. Good luck on the next step of your journey!

    I love the pic of Ian and Eliza at Halloween. You have a lovely family.

  19. Nicole R. says:

    What’s not to love ….

  20. John Schaub says:

    Jennifer you write so beautifully. Miss you guys! Look forward to seeing you soon, get the guest room ready for us.

  21. kim says:

    Your words expressed everything I felt about the move I had to make 2 years ago. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  22. SAndra says:

    A true love story! Thank you for sharing, it makes me appreciate everything and everybody I have in my life! Including you!

  23. Jo Farmer says:

    Simply amazing. A heartwarming emotional roller-coaster but what a ride. Eliza looks like her daddy; just love the picture of her and daddy dress as Robin Hood! Thank you for sharing.

    Jo x

  24. Donna Self says:

    WOW!!! What an inspiration you are to us all….living your dream…may God bless you even more on your new adventure of LIFE!!!

  25. AnnieT says:

    Jen- You are awe-inspiring!! Welcome to CA!!! Hope we can see eachother soon….
    Annie Torsiglieri

  26. Ellen says:

    New to your blog… I loved the story of your brown house and enjoyed seeing all of the pictures of what you turned it into too. How exciting to be able to start a new chapter in your life – and how fun to be doing it in California! Enjoy the move and I’ll keep coming back to see what amazing things you do to your new home there! :)

  27. Jennifer, this is a very poignant story. Sad, happy and bittersweet all in one. I hope your new home in California will become your favorite with all the happiness you and your family will find there.

  28. Ellen Beattie says:

    Hi Jen,

    I remember you fondly when visiting your store in MTC…I had no idea that your life had taken such a turn these past years. How brave and wonderful you have embraced it all.

    I wish you and your family the best on your new adventure.

  29. Terry says:

    Just discovered your blog and I have cried reading your posts again for how brave and inspiring you are…thanks for sharing

  30. Jeanette says:

    Hi Jennifer
    Oh how I miss you and your family visits to Aunt Jean’s. I am inspired by your words and will always remember how beautiful your spirit is. May the Angels always surround you and your family with love.
    Take care my friend-

  31. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing. So true that it sometimes takes loss to find a new future! My prayers for you are for healing and happiness.

  32. Annette Batson says:

    This is a beautiful story that you shared with us. I only knew you professionally, but it was always a pleasure, and despite all your hardships (which I knew very little of) your positive nature and bright persona always punched through.

    Thanks for sharing your happy ending, and all the best in California, my native state!


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