The Three P’s

Everyone knows that moving is a stressful experience. It’s the three P’s — Purging, Packing, and Paperwork. Is there anyone who really enjoys any of those activities, and all three at once is enough to send you over the edge!! … Continue reading

A Change of Address

Shhhhhh. Don’t tell my parents, but Dan and I lived together before we got married (even before we got engaged). 

We didn’t mean to live in sin. Dan was in-between apartments and my roommate was understanding. We lived in a large rent controlled apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a little room off the kitchen that we started calling, “Dan’s room”. It went on for months, but once Dan and I got engaged we decided it was time to make it official. We moved to Brooklyn before Brooklyn was more expensive than Manhattan. Before it was littered with kombucha bars and hipsters. Before it was too cool for us. We found a studio apartment in the parlor of an old brownstone. 132 Joralemon Street was one big room with high ceilings and a steep staircase that lead to a platform where we slept – except in the summer when it was unbearable and we had to move to the couches in the living-room.

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Our next apartment was more practical. 54 Orange Street, just north of Joralemon, was built to be an apartment building. It had a real bedroom and even had an elevator to get us to our second floor apartment. We lived there for two years until we found out that we were expecting. 

We were tempted to try being young parents in the City, but as the months went by, we became eager to find a house with a yard. That’s when we found Maplewood and the rest is history. First our beautiful 100 Jefferson Avenue and then it’s big sister, 26 Clinton Avenue.

We’ve been living together for 25 years and we’ve had our share of hard times, but each of our homes have always managed to hold us up.

Over the last couple of years, it’s become more and more apparent that this house no longer makes sense for our family. Many of our friends have come to the same conclusion about their family homes, but for different reasons. No longer in the “raising kids stage”, they’re downsizing or moving to get more land or their dream beach houses. Our nest will never be empty (in fact, we may need live-in support as our strength shrinks and Jack’s muscles grow). And, our nest needs to be accommodating for complicated living.               

It’s not that we’re in a situation where Jack is unsafe at 26 Clinton Avenue, it’s that we’re wanting to be proactive and want to find something easier — not just for Jack, but for us. Jack can walk up stairs, but needs assistance in both directions and sometimes just getting him out of the house and into the car is a challenge. 

Once we decided we needed a new house, we told our friend/hot-shot realtor our list of requirements:

*  One level for jack (the house could have more, but we wanted JackO to be able to access every bit of his home easily)

* Easy access to the home – loads of beautiful houses in the area fit the bill inside, but would be a challenge to get to from the driveway

* An attached garage

* Something we could move in without too much work – we don’t mind a project, but didn’t want to need to redo every inch of a new home

* Something cool to distract us from why we are leaving our beautiful home – either a quick walk to town or on the reservation or a stunning view or a pool 

Our realtor/friend was sweet, and shook her head politely, but I’m pretty sure that she thought she had just landed the most difficult clients of her career. Luckily, she’s determined and did her magic. She spread the word and our amazing community came together and found us our next forever home.

I swear that it was made for us. The opposite of our 109 year-old center-hall colonial, but in a good way. It’s 50 years old and open and easy. Two bedrooms downstairs and plenty of room for Anna and guests upstairs, completely remodeled, an attached garage, a driveway that goes right up to the front door  — AND it has a pool. I didn’t know I was a pool person until I looked at the back yard where I could almost see it filled with friends and family.

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Realizing we needed a different home initially made me angry. WHEN IS ALD GOING TO BE DONE STEALING THINGS FROM OUR FAMILY?!?! Now that we’ve found this house, I am feeling more excited about our next chapter. ALD isn’t in charge of this decision – WE ARE and it’s going to be great.

From Manhattan to Brooklyn to Maplewood to South Orange. May 1 is the big day – time to start packing!

Love, Jess

on my last nerve

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When the kids were little, I had a friend who always made me smile. She had a way of making even the toughest days seem manageable. She knew how to poke fun of herself, her mood and life as a young mom. “He/she/it is on my last nerve” was her favorite expression. As a young mom myself, I could relate to being over-worked and under-rested. I could relate to feeling like my nerves were exposed, ready to react to any little thing. 

“You’re on my last nerve” was all her kids or husband needed to hear to stop what they were doing and leave the room. When I would hear her say those words over the phone as we were bitching about life, I knew she was frustrated, but that she had a smile on her face.

I would like to apologize to anyone who has gotten in my way or said the wrong thing to me the last couple of weeks. I’m tired and stressed — I’m working on my last nerve. I know that once we find our next home, I’ll be fine. Our family is up for anything — we just need to know if we are buying or renting or pitching a tent somewhere. I need to stop focusing on saying good-bye to this beautiful house and start thinking about saying hello to our next adventure. Not knowing is killing me.

Good news is that we have found a wonderful option that really appears to have been made for our family. Nothing is finalized yet, but we’re feeling optimistic. Still, that last nerve is exposed until the paperwork is complete.

Last night as I was lying in bed, too tired to sleep (is that a thing or just something that my body has invented?), I swear I could hear my friend speaking in my ear. She passed away many years ago. Bravely fought cancer with more grace than most people fight a cold. She died before Jack got sick, but her memory managed to help to me during the darkest days and once again she’s helping me regain focus.

Stay strong Jess. You can deal with anything. You are just working on your last nerve.

Thank you girl.

Fingers crossed that part two of our move project will be over soon!! Then the real fun begins – packing. Crap!!!!!

Love, Jess

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I Wanna Be Like Jack

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The daughter of one of my oldest/bestest friends reached out to me last week. She had an assignment to write a paper on a rare disease and chose ALD. Her thoughtful questions had me sharing details about Jack’s life. Questions about his diagnosis, experiences through transplant, returning to school and about what Jack’s life looks like now.

I always try to be honest when answering such questions. The idea that a high school student is spending the time to educate herself, and in turn, educated her teacher and her classmates, is valuable and I want to make sure the information I provide is accurate. And, after eleven years, I’ve shared the details enough that I’m usually able to write the words without focusing too much on the meaning behind them.

This week has been different. As I was writing, the words keep hitting me — but not in the way you might expect. As I was describing what Jack’s life looks like now, I kept thinking, I wanna be like Jack.

Let me explain.

I’m feeling rather overwhelmed. Putting our house on the market this month seemed like excellent timing. Our three story home is filled with rooms that we don’t use and Jack’s life would be far easier with fewer steps. Anna seemed excited about returning home from second semester to a new house, and I kept thinking it would be a wonderful distraction from my blues about Anna being away at school.

So we hired our dear friend/hotshot realtor, cleaned up our house and put it on the market. Within a week of listing, we were under contract (we were fortunate to have a lot of interest and ultimately sold to a beautiful young family from Brooklyn). So easy, but I guess I wasn’t really prepared for Part One of our moving project to be completed so quickly. I hadn’t thought too much about all the next steps – the inspections and lawyers and finding our next home. 

The other day, I took a break from digging up old paperwork and searching house listings to answer some questions about Jack’s life for my friend’s daughter. I looked over at Jack who was sitting on his favorite couch, his legs up on the ottoman and his dog by his side. He had a grin ear to ear. He doesn’t worry about home inspections or details like where we are moving in May. He just lives in the moment and knows that his team has everything covered. 

I could have felt sad as I wrote the long list of things that Jack can’t do, but all I could think about was how relaxed and happy he looked. Sometimes I wish I had a team that I could trust would take care of everything.

Sometimes, I just wanna be like Jack.

Love, Jess

Before you pick up the phone to send me a text trying to cheer me up — I’M OKAY — just a little stressed. I know that within the next few weeks, we will figure out our next move. It’s time to pass along our beautiful house to another family that will fill it with love and memories. And, it’s time for our family to start a new chapter. It’s going to be amazing  — and easy and flat. 

 

Coming Soon!

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Last week, I watched through our living room window as a man fought through the rain to dig a hole in our front lawn and place a sign. I knew it was coming, but it still took me by surprise. 

Coming Soon!

We moved into our home thirteen years ago and called it our “forever house”. We talked about how we would shine her up to match our dreams and enjoy our time there until we were ready for our golden years in Block Island or Florida. The kids were 7 and 5, and we imagined how they would learn to ride their bikes on Clinton Avenue and run through all the backyards with the neighborhood kids. Jack and Anna would go from elementary school, to middle school, to high school and finally off to college. It seemed so distant, but we pictured when our nest would become empty and we could periodically close up our home as we would travel the world, knowing that we’d always return to our beautiful center-hall colonial.

Thirteen years ago we didn’t know that within a year of moving in, Jack would start showing symptoms of a disease that would one day become a huge part of our family. We didn’t know that our future would be less about adventurous travel and more about doctoring and therapies. We didn’t know that one day, three stories of house would be more than our son would be able to manage.

So, we are selling our home before “forever”. We are selling because we are not living the life that we’d imagined thirteen years ago. We are not alone in selling our home. Many of our close friends are doing the same – escaping Essex County taxes or moving back to urban living or buying their dream homes in the country or on the beach. We, on the other hand, are looking to stay in the area, eager to find an easier home. One that is more Jack friendly – fewer stairs, open floor-plan. A house where JackO can roam free safely.

It’s not what we planned thirteen years ago and it’s a lot of work prepping to sell. There have been moments of panic/anxiety (and plenty of tears), but mostly we’re excited about this change. Our house is beautiful, but there are rooms we never use, but still heat and cool. There’s a lovely yard that is only used by our doggies. And, most of all we feel that the house is ready for her next family. It’s time to pass her on. 

Still . . .

Every time I look out the window and see that sign, I feel my stomach tighten and I think of letting go of our “forever house”. It goes on the market officially next Wednesday and then there will be a flurry of open houses. People coming through to see if it matches their dreams the way it did ours thirteen years ago. Fingers crossed that we sell quickly. I really don’t want to play the “make all the beds, vacuum the dog hair, and hide the diapers” game for too long. And, once we sell our beautiful house, we can find our next “forever home” where we will stay forever … or at least a few years.

Our realtor/friend asked us to write a note to perspective buyers. Let me know what you think.

Thirteen years ago we told our realtor that we wanted to find the “big sister” of our center hall colonial on Jefferson Avenue. Something a little grander, a little roomier. We fell in love with this house before walking in the front door. We’d lived in Maplewood for seven years and Clinton Avenue was one of our favorite streets. It’s quiet, but close enough to town that we’d never need to drive to the village or the train. It’s a street where our children could roam and ride their bikes down the hill without any risks except bumping into a friend. And, the front door, wide and stately, told us that this house was going to be the perfect fit for our family.

We’ve been here now for thirteen years and it’s time for our next adventure, but it’s going to be hard to say good-bye to 26 Clinton Avenue. She’s been good to us. She’s hosted family holidays so large that we’ve added one table after another – from the dining room, through the center hallway into the living room. She’s hosted many, many parties where we’ve used every pot on the pot rack and guests refused to leave the kitchen. And, I trust that neighbors will share the our deck and lower patio have hosted many an event that lasted way too late into the night (it’s a wonderful, understanding crew on Clinton Avenue).

We’ve raised our kids and added two dogs to the mix while we’ve lived at 26 Clinton Avenue, and the memories we are taking with us are plentiful. At 109-years-old, this house has a history and has taken care of many families. Our hope is that the next crew that calls her home will love her as much as we have. 

Love, The Torreys

Cross your fingers, light some candles, and send some good vibes!!

Love, Jess