Beep! The microwave dings as my mother opens the door. We were eating mac and cheese, the only food left in my almost empty house. The only items were boxes with labels and clear packaging tape- and the handy microwave.
“Why are we moving Mommy?” my two-year old voice asked.
“Your dad’s job is moving from Illinois to Connecticut.” my mom said slowly and straightforward.
“Sounds good!” I piped cheerfully. I didn’t know what moving was, much less where Connecticut was. But that didn’t matter to me. I precariously walked over to the staircase and waddled up to my room without a glance back.
As soon as I stepped into my baby blue room I stumbled backwards in surprise. Three big, burly guys, with muscular arms were carrying my crib and boxes out of the child-proof room. I quickly hid behind the doorway – I was always the sneaky one in my family.
“Hi,” one guy bellowed, “Do you want to go in the box. You can stay in the truck and everything!” Unsure of what to do (after all I only came for my stuffed animals). I stuck my head out, so that the men could see me.
I drew my head upward with a smile, noticing my dad putting his hands on my shoulders. As much as I loved my family, I always wanted to spend time alone with my dad. My dad peered through the doorway, ducking slightly. “That’s okay. I’ll take her from here,” my dad gingerly said, but understanding that it was a joke. He steered me through the gray, plush carpeting and down the stairs.
We finally got to the bottom of the long, steep steps. My dad knelt down and looked me in the eyes. He said, “I’m going to go to Connecticut with Caper,” referring to my corgi, “So I am going to say goodbye to the house and the road. You wanna go?”
I nodded and started to skip to the door, hopped down the steps, and started to sing to a song about boston cream pie that I had learned at my music class. We continued quickly, stopped in front of our white house, and gazed at the second floor where had lived over a year. I don’t remember the house that I lived in before but even then I recognized that I probably wouldn’t remember a lot of Vernon Hills. My dad looked at me, I looked at him and we continued to skip carelessly, waving goodbye to the tree that we had collected leaves from, or the playground with the rickety bridge. When we reached my best friend Grace’s red brick townhouse style home I paused, sad to leave my first friend. My dad squeezed my hand and we continued. However, I kept my eyes and head trained on Grace’s house. Being my clumsy self I tripped on the grey asphalt sidewalk (that is why I try to keep my eyes on the ground when I am walking). My small knee was suddenly skinned and bleeding. In shock, I sat down and wept.
My dad kneeled down and touched my dirty leg. He wiped off my salty tears that were running into my mouth and picked me up by my arms. He stood and waited for me to stop hiccuping. Once I stopped crying my dad briskly walked back to our house and opened the red door. He set me down on the granite countertop and got out the first aid kit. I cringed in pain as my father sprayed stingy liquid onto the my kneecap. Seeing my expression he grimaced and murmured some inaudible words. He peeled and smoothed the stretchy tan bandage onto my knee and kissed it. Feeling better than ever I asked,”What time is it?” just in case it was time for dinner.
My dad glanced at his familiar watch and frowned,”It’s time for Daddy to go to Connecticut with Caper.” We headed to the front door and hugged each other. My mom had tears in her eyes as she whispered to my dad.
“Be safe”, she cautioned as my sister and I gave a chorus of I love you’s. I patted Caper’s head with a final thump. They stepped (or trotted) out with lasting glances of the house they had lived in.
My sister and I sat down in front of the dining room’s window, protected from the cold, crisp March air. First, the long moving truck came along with shiny, black tires and fire-engine red trim, and then the tow truck the carried my mom’s beige Passat. Finally, my dad’s Honda pulled up to the curb and paused. He blew us a kiss, waved, and didn’t glance back. I whispered to my sister, “Are they really gone?” she nodded and turned away.
Sometimes I wonder why this is my earliest memory. Every once in a while I think that it is because there was pain, or maybe it is the farthest back that I can possibly remember. But looking back I think it was because there was hope of a better place and change that would affect my life.