The Pleasant Mom Leaves Pleasantville7

Posted by Deirdre // 09-10-2012


By Bklyn or Beyond Contributor Maggie Kemper

And for my next move…the turtle pulls a rabbit out of her hat.

Let’s see, where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was a turtle happily carrying her home on her back, finding inner serenity wherever my journey took me – be it the gritty energy of Carroll Gardens or the nostalgic ease of a tiny town in Westchester County.

My journey has taken a sharp left turn.

Having bought a house and spent five years creating a life in Pleasantville, my husband and I decided to move to his hometown of Seattle –  mere weeks before my oldest was to enter Kindergarten and finally take advantage of all that property tax we had painfully forked over year after year.

I guess in the end a move from Brooklyn to Westchester wasn’t “beyond” enough for me. I’m a mover, it’s how I grew up. When I was a kid, my favorite film was Running on Empty. The only thing that could have topped moving every three to four years, like we did, would have been running from the law under cover of night (with River Phoenix) These past five years in Pville mark the longest I have ever lived in any single abode.

Truck as turtle/turtle as truck

I thought attaining homeownership would scratch that itch forever but it turns out, when presented with the opportunity for change, my body automatically breaks out into hives (both real and metaphoric), and I could not rid myself of our beloved home fast enough.

Hubs had to be the turtle this time, hauling everything we owned that fit into a sixteen-foot rental truck and making his way, slow and steady, from sea to shining sea.

For myself and our two young daughters, I booked three one-way plane tickets, which proved quite a thrill in and of itself. Other small, unexpected delights: changing my homepage, unsubscribing from NYC-based emails that always taunted me with events I could no longer reasonably attend, and ridding ourselves of 40% of our belongings.

Two weeks ago I landed with my girls in the middle of the night in a city I have only ever visited twice before. We had no home, no schools, no cars – just the graciousness of friends and family, two suitcases, and a file folder containing every essential document of our lives, which, in a total mom-move, I clutched obviously to my breast.

Within forty-eight hours I had secured exciting schooling and cute shelter.

With no one to survey and no time to dilly dally, decision-making became my drug of choice and my gut served as my spirit guide. For the first time in a long time, I looked for validation after the fact, and the trees, the water, the mountains, all told me I was right, right, right.

Adrenalin was pumping. The only two needs I missed were a shower and a preschool.  But as soon as I sniffed those out, I turned in the panic for chi and took care of the latter in half the time of the former.

Oh, and can I tell you the absolute utter joy I felt signing a one-year lease in five minutes in a charming coffee shop a block from my new home that I had decided on ten minutes prior? I felt twenty-five again signing that rental agreement  I felt like, well, I was back in Brooklyn.

It helps that I am in one of the most beautiful places in the country during its most glorious month of the year, amongst some of the nicest people you can imagine. Seriously I’ve had to dial back the NY intensity on more than one occasion.

The teller at the bank examined my ID and asked me how long I was in town. I barked back, “I am entitled to my money no matter which branch I use!” Undeterred, he forged onward with the transaction. It was only after he introduced me to everyone behind the counter that I realized he was simply trying to be nice.

Seattle is nice. My husband’s new favorite activity is driving us around from one jaw-dropping sight to the next, seeing if he can illicit bigger sighs from me and the girls with each one. It doesn’t seem real: the white majestic mountains against the pure blue skies, the exotic flora bursting from every city yard, or the simple fact that I get to live here.

And city life? I did not realize how much I had missed it. The daily encounters with the off-beat, the tiny commute, the bounty of interesting food and drink, the brushing up against people, myriads of people, people you don’t know, who just smile, and move on, and you just admire their dog or their summer scarf and you too just keep going, going, going.

Girls on the beach, mountains as back-drop

The kids are doing great.  Sure my three-year-old probably believes that we are on some sort of extended vacation. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad way to live, so who am I to burst her bubble?  My five-year-old, Alice, seems to have inherited my wanderlust.  Just a few days after we broke the news to her of the move back in Pville, she announced, in a tone that would make the original Alice proud:  “I’m bored of this world.  I want to go to the new one.”

I don’t like the packing. I don’t like the unpacking. I’m really dreading all the address changes and missed mail. New doctors, new dentists, new dermatologist, oh my.

Mostly I do not enjoy saying goodbye to cherished friends. I have shed more tears in the past month than I care to mention. But in her early record “Making Time,”  Gillian Welch sums it up perfectly for me: “Oh ain’t it hard to go? But it’s so much harder standin’ still.”

Growing up, my dad had a favorite ironic phrase he would utter routinely once he had finally gotten the whole family out of the house:  “Off like a herd of turtles.”  It did take awhile for all six of us to ever get into the car. But looking back, we somehow ended up covering a lot of ground.



4 Responses

  1. September 13th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    […] turtle pulls a rabbit out of her hat On September 13, 2012 · Leave a Comment I wrote this piece for bklynorbeyond, which is a great site that really tackles the city/country mouse […]

    • Deirdre says:
      September 14th, 2012 at 10:56 am

      Thanks, we loved the piece!

  2. Mikaela szollosi says:
    September 11th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Maggie, you are an inspiration – wherever you roam. I hope that we have the guts to take a leap like that some day! – and if it ends up Seattle is the dice we roll, I hope you’ll let us bunk with you a while. 

    • Maggie Kemper says:
      September 12th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Oh thank you! We’d love to have you in Seattle – you guys would fit in great here!  Please please.  And by the way – I think moving to London was pretty gutsy!