Moving is hard. Harder than I remembered. After days, weeks, and months of shifting my stuff from shelves to boxes, from room to room, from my Kansas house to my storage unit in Colorado, to my car, to my new house with final stops to the bins at Goodwill, I certainly understand the physical impact of moving, but it’s the emotional impact that I didn’t anticipate. I feel like my center of gravity has shifted and everything in its wake has been realigned in a way that feels both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I welcome the reset, while at the same time, am still surprised that there was such a big reset to begin with. I’m not sure what I was thinking on that one. With the exception of short stints in Alaska and New York and a legit, get a new driver’s license move to Arizona for a year, I’ve been in the Kansas City area since I was 6. How could a move away NOT cause a bit of unsettling? But again, totally unexpected.
Goodbyes to a house I loved so dearly were easier than anticipated, perhaps because it was the longest damn goodbye ever. I left my house in early July and bunked with my sister and brother-in-law for the following 6 weeks while my belongings, tucked tightly into a small PODS trailer, made there way to Colorado ahead of me. There were so many goodbyes during that time frame that I started losing focus on what my end game was in the first place. Goodbyes to a lot of my stuff (that would be sold in an estate sale) to my yard, to the gardens I tended to and added to throughout my stay, to my lovely neighborhood that I still could lose myself in on long walks, to the very walls that embraced me for the past 10 years and most of all, to my dearest of friends and my ever supportive family. I don’t like goodbyes – to things, to places or most of all, to people. The ever-growing to do list became my distraction to what was really happening, which didn’t really sink in until 3 hours into my drive west. After a tearful goodbye to my sister, I slipped into my overloaded car and made my usual stop 3 hours later at the gas station with the Starbucks in Salina. While fueling up, the reality of what I was in the process of doing hit me hard with tears that flowed off and on until close to the Colorado border. While my emotions were jumping back and forth from excitement and anticipation to fear and sadness, my mind continued to reel me back with the practicalities of the situation. “Where will the turquoise legged table go? Did I remember the box from Robin’s basement? Exactly WHAT is in that storage unit in Boulder and what in the world am I going to do with the furniture that doesn’t fit?” That jumble of emotions will be my forever memory of the gas station with the Starbucks off of I-70 West that I know so well. Pumping and crying.
My move technically began the day I started taking down the family photos that hung from floor to ceiling in the hallway of my house. These were the same photos that took an entire weekend to hang because my free form method of hanging pictures ends up with several holes behind each picture before it looks right. It’s not that big of deal unless your walls are plaster, which mine were, leaving a crumbling mess behind each hung photo, something I only remember thinking would be a quite a project to contend with if I ever moved, which of course, was no concern at the time. Martha Stewart would have been ashamed. The disassembling of the nest I had been feathering for the past 10 years, became my focus and distraction as I stood in rooms of stuff that needed to be sorted, sold or packed and pock marked walls that would eventually needed to be tended to with spackle and sandpaper.
Moving gave me prospective on a long list of things, but initially it was my stuff that became the focus and the surprising realization that it’s not the big, expensive pieces of furniture that have been hauled from house to house that really mattered, but rather, the miscellaneous collection of keepsakes tucked away in boxes that have seen better days. That realization helped when things didn’t go as planned, which began with my movers. My confidence in the two men’s abilities waned when I saw them both strap on the back apparatus to move one box each of books, the same boxes that I would then move to the room I told them to put it in the first place, sans the helper strap and the huffing and puffing.
When the “head” mover, (I’m guessing he was the “head” guy as he was the one who schooled me on tipping before they even began), asked me where the “big, heavy dresser” went and I told him, “the basement,” and his reaction was, “Seriously? Down those stairs???”, I realized I had Gomer and Goober in charge of moving all of my worldly possessions and that’s when I started moving boxes myself. I was paying by the hour and the clock was ticking fast. Plus, fueled by irritation and anger, I became a whole lot stronger. Now normally one would think that my “interfering” by trying to help with the unloading process would have brought on resistance by the movers and reactions that would perhaps push them to work a little harder and a little faster. That didn’t happen. In fact, my movers weren’t fazed one bit because they were on one of several “much needed water breaks,” which I would later learn when I got a bit closer to them, was actually a booze break. Workers don’t do as well when they are drunk, or at least well on their way. So there was that…
Fortunately, and much to my surprise, nothing was broken, but there was loss, and sadly, I can’t blame it on drunk movers but have to claim the blame myself. In my organizational haste and with clothing flying from one box to another, I took a box of all of my sweaters to Goodwill, latest count 15. I realized this when I was organizing my closet and only had one sweaters to put away. I’m still not sure how it escaped the Goodwill box but it did and it quickly became my favorite and my only sweater. Naturally, I immediately went to Goodwill and explained my dilemma, only to learn that the Goodwill where I made my deposit was a distribution center and that my beloved sweaters were already en-route to another center. My daughter told me it was just stuff and to calm down until she learned that my vintage Ralph Lauren blanket sweater was in the Goodwill haul, then things got serious and very sad. But lesson learned, it was just stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of good stuff, both new and cherished old, but still, just stuff. I can’t say that I haven’t been back to that Goodwill “just to check,” a few more times. OK 6 more. And nothing. Again, just stuff.
My nest is almost feathered now and I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night wondering where the heck I am and why don’t I hear my sump pump running? Some of the changes I’m not sure will ever stop taking my breath away, my view from my bedroom window of the Flatirons, for one. And then there’s the incredible benefit of so much time with my 2 year-old grandson and his brand new baby sister. Grandma (or Laudie as I’m called) is on deck and ready to play.
Everything feels different, smells different, sounds different and looks different and I know that patience is in order as moving is a long process that continues long after the boxes are unpacked. I left a large tribe behind and am not used to the feeling of walking into an exercise class, a store or a restaurant and not seeing one person I know. A couple weeks after I moved in, I was in the local hardware store and heard someone call out my name. This was an exciting first. I turned around to see the electrician who had been working in my house. I later told him that it was my first moment of feeling connected and that his shout out meant far more than he probably realized. I think he understood. Those small gifts are larger than I ever imagined.
It feels like I’m walking in new shoes that don’t quite feel right as they’ve not been broken in, but boy are they cute and who doesn’t like that feeling of of first day new shoes? With time, the shoes will break in and feel more and more like they really DO belong to me and are indeed on the right feet. Time and patience. In the meantime, I’m simply working on finding my center, 626 miles west from where it used to be.