The good news is that we have a lead on a house. And not just any house–it’s huge, old and creaky and damp, with lots of quirks like a loft room and balcony accessible by ladder only, or a half-finished space over the garage where the moss grows. There’s a little garden on 3 sides, with a fig tree that is not only climbable but also, hopefully, fruitful. It is painted a murky sort of pink. It even has a basement, including a vast low-ceilinged room where we could put in a bowling alley or archery range! (These examples are intended to show size, not actual plans) We have a verbal agreement with the property manager, and are awaiting his phone call.

The not-quite-as-exciting-as-you-thought-at-first news is that it’s not available until March 1st, which is always a momentous day round here, and not just because it’s the twins’ birthday. So that means two more moves until the big, and hopefully last, move. We have to be out of this place on the 20th, and then we’ll return on Feb 2nd. Yippee. More suitcases, more frantic searches for the Bescherelle (French conjugation book) and Abel’s history homework and that certain shirt that Ilsa really wants to wear but that got left behind or put in an obscure case. I’m hoping we’ll find the library book we lost a couple of moves ago–possibly in Spain but most likely in the basement.

Right now I am feeling like I never ever want to move again as long as I live. I do wonder how long this will last though. The longest I have lived in one house is 5 years. The numbers aren’t exactly on my side that I will settle permanently; I wonder if I am even capable of it.

Ilsa wants to have the loft room as her room. She loves it! (Underline “loves” twice in your mind, once in teal and once in purple, to understand the depth of her emotion a little better) But I have become what I always dreaded becoming; the Grown-Up, The Mom, The One who says things like, “You can’t climb trees in white jeans” instead of just focusing on how much fun it is to climb trees. Who worries about clothes? The Mom, that’s who. The worst is that, having become this, I am quite content to be in this place. Because climbing trees in white jeans ruins them, and you then spend far too much time trying to get the stains out and then having to go shopping again. And so while I, too, love the loft room and the ladder access, all I could picture was Ilsa having the flu and having to dash down that ladder in the middle of the night. I couldn’t come up with a winning solution to that; either she would lose it all over the ladder and the floor and I would have to clean it up, or she would fall, which would be far worse. So I have refused to let her have the loft room as her own. Instead, I have announced grandly, it will be the library! (How will we get bookcases up a ladder? Umm….) Also a play space. She can use it for an art studio! Abel can store his legos there! This could be good.

Today I am sick. I am hoping it does not turn into a sinus infection; that kind of sick. We have had a whirl of a time the last several days. Our friends who were supposed to stay here last week got snowed in, in Marseilles of all places, where no one ever gets snowed in. They’d left a bag here, so on Sunday afternoon we took the train to Casablanca to meet them in the station. They had a seven-hour layover, so we headed out to McDonalds and caught up on our news over cheeseburgers, fries, and Coca Light that was actually cold. The day was clear and crisp, and we sat outside.

The train coming home was crowded. I was able to get a seat, even facing forward, because of my gender and blond hair, but Donn had to stand the entire way. I sat with Ilsa on my lap, making occasional eye contact with the woman next to me. Ilsa read. One woman turned her phone to play Arab pop music for us all. Another woman, in her 30s at least, leaned against her mother and slept. The train swayed and jerked through the night; I brushed Ilsa’s long hair out of my mouth; out the windows we caught sight of the moon rising, full and yellow and luminous.

We came home, collected the boys from their friends‘ house, turned on our space heaters, ate some of the French cheese our friends had brought us, and were happy. Home. What does that mean? It is the place you will sleep that night.