Thursday, April 21, 2011

moving again (maybe the last time for a while?)

Yes, I'm moving again. This time I'm staying in the same state, the same area code, the same county, just shifting into the next town. I'm moving into my own house this time, which means I can put down some roots, plant a garden, choose paint colors, and plan on staying for a while. 

It's going to take some work to get the new studio into useable condition, so I'll be extending my hiatus from painting for another few weeks.  This whole packing and moving thing really takes a toll on me.

Below is a brief photoessay about moving that I put together for the Flickr group Utata. The project, based on the theme Where I Live, is beautifully presented in its entirety here.

Moving Pictures

-moving pictures-
I'm moving.  Again.   I'm packing the same boxes I unpacked just over a year ago; each time I reassemble one I congratulate myself for saving it.  I try to match up the labels: “kitchen” with kitchen stuff, “office” with office stuff.  Funny how hard that can be, even though it's all the same stuff.  There's a growing pile of filled-up boxes in the corner, nicely balanced, neatly labeled.  I'm good at this, and it's nice to be good at something.  I have a plan in place and a timeline laid out, although I know it never goes that smoothly.  But my plans are my anchors now.  These lists take on weight as the rooms give it up; the things that hold me to my life tucked away, taped shut.  I have gravity packed in boxes. (Never mind the laws of physics; it's in there. I can feel it.)  I drift from room to room like a day-old helium balloon.  What plans?  I can go anywhere.  This is where I live.


-wrapped in tissue-
I suppose I could give you coordinates to my apartment, here in this old house with its old floors and glass doorknobs in a tree-shaded neighborhood on the edge of a part of the city that many choose to avoid. Or should I send you to the house I am preparing to move into? Part of me is here; part of me is already there, with the painting and remodeling already done. Part of me is nine miles away at my mother's, the sprawling ranch house now swallowed by a suburb, the place where I grew up. Squint hard: do you see that sturdy little girl in the stars-and-stripes swimsuit? I know she's there, sunburned and barefoot, still exploring woods and fields that have long since yielded to houses.  I wrap her carefully in tissue and tuck her in among the rest of my things; I'll be bringing her along.  She'll like it in the new place.  This is where she lives.


-not fragile at all-
This box is for glassware.  (And this box, and this one, and this one too.  I have a thing about glassware.)  Wipe each piece with a damp paper towel, swaddle it in newsprint, pack it away, but not before remembering its story, its life in my hands.  This vase from that non-air-conditioned junk shop on a hot, hot summer day.  Remember?  I stood on a high stool to reach it and the stool gave a loud crack, so I jumped down just as you threw up your arms to catch me and you hit me in the face.  I almost dropped the vase.  We choked on our laughter, hoping no one would notice (I think everyone noticed).  This cut crystal tumbler was my grandmother's and her grandmother's.  My brother and I drank milk from them on holidays when the grownups had wine.  Look how it catches and flashes and changes the light.  Yellow of  lamplight, blue of the tv.  I put it in a painting and it took me three days just to suggest that starburst design.  Salt cellar, serving bowl, decanter, carafe.  I wrap and pack, and let my memory fill the spaces left behind.

These are some of the prettier pieces of my life.  I'll take them with me when I go.  But even if I didn't, or couldn't, or they were lost along the way, they'd still be with me.  Cool glass, a hot day, dusty-sour junk shop smell, a flash of yellow, of blue.  The taste of milk.  This is where I live.

-work in progress-
I saved all this packing paper, too.  I know, I know, incredible efficiency.  I'm a marvel, even to myself.  Hidden among the plain newsprint are newspapers from the last place I lived (about to become the next-to-last place I lived).  I shake out the folds of a sporting goods ad and  find myself back in the Deep South.  Guns for sale, pages of guns and camouflage.  Unless it's football season, “sports” in Louisiana means fishing rods and rifles.  I was glad to be there, and glad to come home.  This is home.   No, not this apartment I am emptying out, and not the house I am going to either.  Here.  All these things I remember, the places I've lived, the people I've forgotten.  All the state parks, restaurants, driveways, gardens, petting zoos, little trails through the woods behind the house.  Houses and apartments, cottages and trailers. By a lake, near an ocean, on a mountainside; alongside at least two rivers, a pond, and more than one muddy ditch. One ex-husband, a few ex-lovers, a host of neighbors, acquaintances, friends.  My steadfast parents.  My son, who for eighteen years has been the only one to visit every place I've lived.  I fold the Louisiana sporting goods ad and put it back on the pile.  All this blank newsprint like pages of a book, written in invisible ink.  I'm the only one who can read it.  This is where I live.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


  1. Beautifully done, Kim. Good luck with the move.

  2. Kim, I'm so glad you're getting a garden again! You take such wonderful photographs and write so well.

  3. I'm slipping, Kim. I usually try to get right over to new follower's blogs, to welcome them. But, I procrastinated, and now I have to apologize. But, I do extend a very warm welcome to someone who lives in the same area I do, and who knows and appreciates what it has to offer. It will be fun seeing you settle into your new, old home.

    You may not know, but, I, too, have deep roots in this place. My Grandfather bought the house I live in almost 100 years ago, and my family has occupied it all that time. Everything I touch has memories, some that I know, and some that whisper just out of hearing.

    Your blog is wonderful, your writing warm and enveloping. I'm going to enjoy it very much.

  4. Oh my, I just noticed that your entry is dated in April. I hope that everything has been OK in your life since then.

  5. Although my father was born in Peabody, MA his family spent some of his childhood years in Rochester.
    We used to go family camping in the 60's, a way for a large family to take vacations, and I remember driving through Rochester packed into the car with dogs and kids while my father gave us a tour.
    One of his memories was that he was playing with a toy train on the sidewalk and he found a lit cigarette butt which he stuck into the locomotive smoke stack. A delightful find for a little boy. Whenever I think of Rochester I remember that. Also, was the first time we ever saw any of the Great Lakes and we were blown away that "Lake Ontario" looks more like an ocean, complete with waves!
    I enjoyed reading this post.

  6. Kim, I just happened on your blog and have been really enjoying reading it. You are a great writer as well as a great artist. I see the dates on here are all old so you may not see this but if you do come by, I'll just say HI to an old friend and hope that you are well settled in your new home by now and happily painting away. ~sno~

    1. hello Ms Margaret!! So great to "see" you! Now we must stay in touch. email me at kdenise1111[at]gmail[dot]com so we can catch up!!

      Hugs :)

  7. I guess I'm coming late to the conversation, too! My sister is an artist and works with pastels, so I especially enjoyed looking at your work.

  8. LOL...well, I guess I'm late to it as well...disciplined blogger I am not! Thank you for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed looking at my work.

  9. Hi, Kim! I'm writing a post about blog banners, and featuring your banner and a big link at my blog.


    1. Wow, Casey, thanks! I should probably start posting to this thing if I'm going to get some traffic, LOL.


Thanks for writing! I love hearing from you.