2019-04-01 / Family Matters

'Let's Move, Nothing to Lose!'

By David Rockower

Sixteen years is a long time. Sixteen years ago my wife and I didn’t have any children. We were just settling into our careers, and we bought what we thought might be our forever home. Today, we have one teenager and one almost teenager, more than 20 years of work experience and, recently, we moved to a new home. 

I grew up in the State College borough. I rode my bike downtown, leaning it against the walls of establishments like The Alley Bookstore, Kay’s Corner and, later, Playland. Holmes-Foster Park was another hangout. I loved the accessibility of being able to meet friends just about anywhere. We only used the phone to announce an upcoming game of Runners and Searchers and that we should meet on the corner in 10 minutes. So, when we moved into our home 16 years ago, I was excited — yet somewhat uneasy — about moving outside of town.

Our Boalsburg home provided us with a big yard and few neighbors. When our children began asking to invite friends over, it required phone calls, scheduling arrangements and a minimum 20-minute out-and-back trip for parents. But our outdoor space was magical. The kids explored the treeline, walked to a nearby nature preserve and played soccer for hours. They encountered a red-tailed fox, several snakes, pileated woodpeckers, and the deer became so common that our dog hardly barked when they entered the yard. But, to be honest, we were lonely quite often.

I missed being able to talk to people without driving into town. The idea of walking downtown, to work or to a friend’s house, became more and more appealing. And my kids would be able to connect with their friends  without the use of a car. I’ll admit, I was the one who initiated the idea of moving. Still, when it happened, it seemed meant to be.

About five or six years ago, our kids were trick-or-treating in the borough. Each year, we walked the same route, which included a stop at the home of my favorite middle school teacher. That year, Maddie needed to duck inside to use the bathroom. I used this time to chat about wanting to move back to the neighborhood someday. When I left, I told my former teacher, “If you ever decide to sell your home, please let me know.” She smiled and waved. Each subsequent year, I hoped she’d bring it up or mention that she was getting close to selling; that never happened. But in August of last year, I received an email letting me know that she would soon be selling, and that she’d like to offer me first right of refusal on her home.

A week later, we walked through her home and left with squealing kids and a lot of thinking to do. After much discussion, Michelle was the lone holdout. She’s the reasonable one in the family, level-headed and practical. We rely on her to keep us balanced. She was not sure moving would be best for our family. But things shifted when she pulled into the driveway after work to see Maddie marching and holding signs above her head that read, “It goes from money to sunny real fast!” and “Let’s Move, nothing to lose!” Maddie then led Michelle to the kitchen where she handed her an essay stating the many reasons why she would be happier in the new home. Well, that was it — we decided to go for it. Still, we needed to sell our home within a certain time frame. Fortunately, we did, and it all worked out.

Two weeks before moving day, Nathan was playing with a friend in the backyard. They pushed through the treeline, investigating the neighboring field where they discovered a massive block of ice. Michelle looked out the window and came back to the kitchen wiping her eyes. “What’s wrong?” Maddie asked.

“Nothing. It’s just that these are the last days I’ll see my kids playing in the yard where they grew up.”
Later that evening, each of us shared what we’d miss most about the house.

“I’ll miss the basement,” Nathan said. “I spent so many hours down there playing soccer.”
Maddie talked about exploring the space beyond our property: “I will miss our rock path, and the yard.”

“I’ll miss the fireplace,” I said.

“I’ll miss the yard and the deck,” Michelle said.

Leave it to Maddie to provide wisdom and perspective: “There is so much to look forward to in the new house,” she said. “Actually, I’ll miss the fun times the most, not the house. And, we get to keep those memories.”

With a sports-obsessed 14-year-old son, a spirited 12-year-old daughter and a goldendoodle who looks like a muppet, teacher David Rockower has a lot to write about.

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