What’s the big deal about moving was always my first thought when someone else talked about it. (Not you, I never minimized you. I swear.) I mean, you put your stuff in boxes, go to your new address, unpack and get on with your life, and I can get along with mine as soon as you quit bitching about the boxes all over your house or how hard it is to move with children around.
Now, I’m the one who’s moving and I suddenly understand it for the massively stressful and life-altering event that it is.
As I wade through the stages of moving, I’m seeing this for what it is: kind of like a death but with way more manual labor and zero chances to dress up and adorn myself with pearls.
On the first day after we signed a contract on a new place, I acted with great alacrity grabbing boxes from the top shelf of the office closet. I was going to start the Great Pre-Move Purge (“GPP”). Those three boxes? All children’s clothes. I call them my “treasured clothing” stash and it’s basically every outfit my kids wore for the first eight months of their lives. The boxes, they are huge. They are overflowing with the matching hats and baby blankets that accompanied those long-gone days. I buried my face into each little onsie and hoodie and knew I wouldn’t be able to part with a single one. So that was two hours of not so much decluttering as refolding and crying into cotton outfits I hope my grandkids will wear.
Day two I hoped for more. I emptied out my entire sock drawer and bra drawer onto my bed. The plan was to go through all that crap– the nursing bras and the mismatched and holey woolen socks that cut off my circulation– but something happened (like I realized how boring it was to cull socks), and I walked away. I have decluttered exactly one pair of socks out of that pile. Every night I shove the pile on the floor so I can sleep, and in the morning I put it back on the bed so I can walk around the room.
I can report some success in the kitchen where I’ve ruthlessly purged rotting limes and old frosting tubes. It’s hard to celebrate those victories because honestly? I should have done that weeks ago and not just because we are moving.
Now, if Jeff would let me touch his crap, I could really tally up some decluttering clout, pushing the GPP forward, but he’s asked me nicely not to so I’m coming up empty-handed. (Jeff, I forgive you for holding me back, since you are usually so supportive.) Sure, there’ve been broken crayons and unidentifiable plastic toy pieces that I put into the trash without ever looking back, but that doesn’t count either. Especially since Sadie is on to me and now goes through the trash hourly to see what precious article of hers I have callously discarded next to those limes that smell so less-than-citrusy-fresh.
I pawed through some old documents last night and relived some former glory days….like when I penned the famous footnote 5 to a big brief during my first year of practice. (In later drafts, the footnote was removed, but for a span of about 36 hours, I was a pretty badass first year associate.)
In some ways moving from the house where my kids were conceived and lived their first few years feels like a funeral for a distant relative whose passing has caught me off guard and produced grief that feels way out of proportion for the actual loss. But when you add up the loss of neighbors, all the familiars (the walk to the train, the regulars I wave to at the park, where the syringes are hidden in the alley), it all starts to feel like a loss worth grieving until our new landscape welcomes us in and gives us new familiars.
Til then, please hold me. Tight.