We moved in July, the humid, unforgiving heat of the California sun sticking our shirts to our backs as we carried boxes from the house to the truck. The mattresses went in first, on their sides, and the table went in after. Other pieces of furniture, boxes, biggest to smallest. Vacuum cleaners and pool noodles wedged into the cracks. When we got in the car, finally, Mom sighed and turned the air conditioner all the way up.
“It’s hot,” she said. “Let’s get smoothies.”
It was a routine, by then, every year a slightly different sun on our backs, some furniture replaced, things we’d loved abandoned to charities and yard sales without even a twinge of regret. We were past that.
We’ve lived in fifteen houses in fifteen years, maybe more. You lose count after a while, and there were so many six month apartments and fifteen month houses and the occasional two years spent in the same house. We’re not a military family, and it’s not a work thing. My family is just a restless one, a tumbleweed. We’re homeschooled, so we don’t have school to worry about. We drift.
It was around three in the afternoon by the time we got to our new house, and still hot. The house was bigger than our old one, with an orange tree in the backyard and a tree full of tiny sour apples behind the garage. The kitchen was nice, lots of counter space and cabinets. No air conditioning, though. I could feel heat rising off of my skin whenever I sat down, panting, in the shade. I didn’t do that much. I had boxes to carry. It took us hours to unload it all.
“Seriously, next time we’re hiring movers,” Dad said. Sprawled on the floor of the living room, we agreed, vehemently.
We’ve mostly lived in Southern California. Five out of fifteen houses in the same San Diego suburb, one or two by the beach, but mostly just scattered in the same five hundred mile radius. We spent two years in Colorado, and eight months in Northern California. We’ve always lived in the suburbs, though. Suburbs are easy to move into and out of, and cheap.
I never really had very many friends, or very good friends. We didn’t stay in one place long enough for me to really get to know anyone. There were boys, though. Anyone even relatively cute who paid attention to me gained the instant adoration of a young, pretty girl. None of them ever went anywhere. I just oohed and aahed and they showed off for me and eventually I figured out they weren’t perfect and I dropped them like garbage. I’ve never had a friend I would feel comfortable talking to about serious things.
I was okay with that. I don’t like the middle-y bit of making friends. The first part, where everything about them is new and shiny and interesting, that part’s great. The BFF part, where you know them well enough to say shocking things around them and comfort them when they’re sad, that part is probably great too. The middle bit, though, where the shine’s worn off but you still don’t know them well enough to completely see how awesome they are, that part is boring and awful. We usually moved a month or two after I got into that part, though, so I never had to put in the work.
Then we spent a month in Europe, a month in Colorado, in and out of hotels and rentals where we stayed for days or weeks, and the only things we owned fit in our suitcases, one each. That kind of cured us of the restlessness, I think.
We’re in an apartment, now, within driving distance of the friends that I’ve had for three years. Which is… weird. And kinda great. According to my parents, we’ll move one more time, to a big house in San Diego, and then never again. And I’m glad. We’ve had a lot of great experiences, but I think it’s time for us to settle down and learn how to deal with people. Let’s see how this goes.