Grandma always said “hate” was a strong word and that I shouldn’t use it. But sometimes it feels appropriate, like when describing my feelings about moving. I hate moving. I despise it. There are few things I like less, which should explain why I’ve lived in only two apartments in the last ten years.
As I gear up to move again, I realize that my apartments since college have been a proxy for my identity and stage in life. My first apartment was that of a singleton, the second that of a wife, and the next will be that of a mother.
I kept my first apartment, a studio, for nearly seven years. Starting graduate school forced me to change cities. And so, it was time for another round of the Delta Shuttle Shuffle when I left D.C. to head back to Boston, where I’d attended college.
When I first moved to Washington, I was a new college graduate working for the federal government and earning peanuts. Having had hair-raising roommate experiences, I opted to live alone. All I wanted was a place that was clean and relatively nice in a safe neighborhood. I found it just over the border in northern Virginia and benefited as Pentagon City developed around me. Our new 24-hour Harris Teeter carried some kosher food, and I was willing to travel for services. So I spent Friday evenings praying in the District.
I was sad to leave that apartment - especially because packing up seven years of stuff was a chore - but it was also exciting to move back north for my last-ever stint of school. That time I looked for a one bedroom within walking distance of school. I didn’t want to worry about being late for class because I was commuting. I also hoped that by the time my two years of graduate school were over, my then-Washington-based boyfriend would be moving in as my husband. He did, and my large-for-one-person apartment has since served us as an alright-sized apartment for two people willing to live like grad students.
Our current place is notable for its design quirks. We cannot open our refrigerator door all the way, because it hits the sink. And when I was pregnant, my husband and I had to take turns foraging for dinner in the kitchen. There wasn’t enough room for the two of us to pass each other in there. I started out spending Friday nights at the local Chabad with other graduate students, but after graduation, we gravitated to a local synagogue that’s a short T-ride away. That has suited us fine.
Things have grown exponentially more complicated since Lila arrived in May. My husband recently accepted a new job in Washington. This means we are about to begin a new apartment search that must meet the needs of a trio, not a duo. It will be the first time I ever look for anything larger than a one bedroom, and this search will culminate in the first time our baby sleeps in her own room. Until now, she’s been sharing our bedroom, our lone air conditioned room.
I intend to trade up to a kitchen with a refrigerator I can open fully and a dishwasher. But the move will also be harder. For the first time we will be those people who will need to use the Jewish life guide put out by the local Jewish federation, because I don’t just want Judaism in the general ether. I want our next home to be close to synagogues, kosher butchers and a sizable Jewish community. However, it also needs to have sufficient space for Lila to play and eventually crawl amid all of her infinite baby stuff, and it should be near a park or playground. This is a whole list of “musts” I never worried about before.
Hopefully it won’t be too hard to find a place that matches our new criteria. After all, we already found a building whose website lists luxurious floor plans showing a second bedroom complete with a walk-in closet just as big as the master bedroom. We’ve ruled that one out since Lila doesn’t need quite that much space for shoes just yet.
One thing is for certain, though. While baby may make three in a family, in housing she makes for two bedrooms.