In 2014, Alex and I became pregnant with our first son. At 2 months pregnant, we moved into a tiny Brooklyn apartment together. We arranged the contents of our lives over the lofted bed and placed a mattress under so I wouldn’t have to crawl up a ladder. At 7 months into the pregnancy, we moved to a small apartment in the back of a warehouse in New Jersey.
It was small, the wood printed vinyl paneling pulled away from the wall and smelled faintly of dust and moisture. The bathroom was dated by the blue tile and was completed with matching blue tub and toilet. In the kitchen, a curtain that looked like dusty pink doilies covered the one window that faced neither east nor west. It was in this apartment where our lives as a family officially began.
It was snowing the day Calvin was born and Alex had to cross the George Washington Bridge 5 times before we could come home. As the weather got warmer, we would fill every free moment in the city or taking trips out of state. Then, six months after Calvin turned 1, and the days had begun to grow short, we found out we were pregnant again. Marlon was born in the suburbs, only minutes away from where we were living. Again, we would spend the summer escaping to parks, beaches, or virtually anywhere to escape our increasingly crowded apartment. Summer faded into fall, and as the days were approaching their shortest, we decided to move our family.
Away from the city, away from the suburbs, somewhere new with space to roam.
We left everything familiar in exchange for the unknown, unfamiliar, and open space. The house we moved to was old, red, and had no heat upstairs. The first months were an adjustment. What was intended to be new and exciting was feeling more like a barren wilderness filled with brown boxes and strangers. But as the snow began to thaw and the wildflowers began to grow, so did the boys who learned how to be the others playmate. As the summer pressed on, the sound of laughter began to fill the house during the day and the trickling stream and distant train were accompanied by an orchestra of crickets at night.
We now know to keep the heat up and an extra blanket on in the winter. Now we have a dog and chickens, we no longer spend weekends trying to get away. We have come a long way since the nights staring at the bottom side of a loft bed. Calvin sometimes asks to go back to the apartment with the wood walls but only for a visit because this is home, this is now where our life is. We track their height on the wall by the door, they will learn to swim in the pond in the back, and catch fireflies. Our first and some of our most precious memories were in that apartment in the back of a warehouse, but here, we will make more.
This body of work begins shortly before the birth of Calvin documenting our lives growing as a family. As we began to outgrow the wood-paneled walls, the surrounding area begins to feature the urban and suburban spaces we would escape to, and then as we started the moving process the scenery shifts to more spacious rooms sunlit, windows with snow and then the rural landscape that surrounds our new home. All the while, Calvin and Marlon become more independent of us as parents and their lives become more intertwined with the other.