So if you follow me on any of my social media accounts (handy-dandy buttons are right over there on your right if you don’t), or if you know me in 3D life, you know we’re in the middle of moving.
Moving. Is. Exhausting. The kind of exhausting that you feel in every pore of your body.
But I’ll get back to that.
This move is one that’s been a long time coming. For those who don’t want the story, and want the quick little primer: We bought this house in 2006 as an investment. It was never meant to be a long term home, or really a home at all. We were going to completely remodel it (which we did), live in it temporarily (temporarily is such a relative term!), and then flip it. But… because this is life, and because we’re us, this is when the market completely tanked, home values dropped into the toilet, and we went upside down in our mortgage almost overnight. Now, in 2018, we’re finally able to sell. Our little short term investment lasted us 12 years.
Now, I’m convinced that there’s never actually a good time to move. It’s a massively huge, stressful undertaking, no matter when you do it. But doing it right now?? While it was a good time when it came to the real estate market, it was decidedly NOT a good time otherwise. We’re in the final stages of planning our conference, which has had far more than its normal share of hiccups; I just finished another semester of school last week; I’m dealing with the changes and side effects that come with adjusting 27 medications (Not really 27. But it might as well be) Oh. And. We’re leaving on an 11 day road trip TOMORROW, less than one month before we close… just because Mike happened to have a work thing, and we happened to think it’d be a good idea to tag along and see the sights. All the stress, all the emotions, all the fatigue, wrapped in a neatly labeled banker’s box and tied with a bow.
And let me just say right here, before I go any further? There is a reason that moving consistently shows up on top five lists of most stressful life events. Right up there with losing a job, getting a divorce, and even having a death in the family. It’s no joke.
Because here’s the thing. Packing up a house you’ve lived in for 12 years is really, really hard. It’s hard in the sense that it’s physically demanding, gross, sweaty, dusty work (which I realize does not reflect well on our house-keeping skills), but even more than that, it’s emotionally hard. It’s mentally hard. It’s like…. it’s like therapy, on speed, in Disneyland, on the fourth of July. It hurts down to the center of your bones. It’s conflicting work too, because at the same time that you’re having to tell yourself that it’s all just unnecessary “stuff” – and let it be known that we threw out dozens, DOZENS, of bags of old junk – you’re also brutally reminded that it’s not just stuff. It’s memories. It’s nostalgia. It’s happiness. It’s sadness. It’s regret. It’s touching these little pieces of your past that brings you back to the time at the place with the person with a visceral energy that’s so real it almost makes it hard to breathe. Over. And over. And over again. It hurts. Moving hurts.
It’s about healing. And it’s about finally letting go. It’s about forcing yourself to finally let it go.
It’s painful. The gifts from the people you’re no longer friends with. The photos of the relatives that are no longer on this earth.
It’s puzzling. WHY do I still have this coupon for Honey Bunches of Oats from 2007?
It’s exhausting. It’s bittersweet. The tiny shoes. The baby blankets. The little hats. The photos. The early drawings. The handmade Mothers’ Day cards.
Every single thing you lay your hands on, whether it gets lovingly packed, passed on to someone else, or is destined for the land fill… it’s all part of your story. Every single bit of it. For better or worse it all went into the elaborate tapestry that is today. It all had meaning, no matter how vague, no matter how obscure. Yes, it’s just stuff. But it’s stuff with a history. A rich one. One that you must revisit, bit by bit by bit.
We had a big box that was tucked away in one of our lower kitchen cabinets. It was affectionately referred to as… well, “the box”. Whenever we had unexpected company coming, or otherwise had to pick up in a hurry, any sort of paperwork, mail, etc, got tossed in the box. I don’t know how long it was there, but it was long enough to be falling apart. One whole side had fallen away under the weight of its contents, the entire thing was sagging, and it had somehow expanded to include the space inside the box, as well as all the area surrounding it.
A couple of weeks ago, we dumped the box out on the table and started sorting. We came across a Christmas card, and in it was a picture of one of the boys’ friends from what seems like a lifetime ago. I’m not sure of the exact date, but it was at least 9 or 10 years old. It’s a bittersweet picture, because we have not been friends with that family since probably very shortly after the photo was taken. I don’t know what happened. It was one of those weird life things in which we never found closure. We were friends – good friends even – and then one day they left Paxton’s birthday party without saying goodbye, and never spoke to us again. They just stopped being our friends. I wondered for a long time what had happened at that party; I wondered for a long time what could have been so egregious that she couldn’t answer an email, that we couldn’t have talked it out. But I still don’t know.
And fast forward to today, and here’s this smiling face of a little boy who is now very likely in college.
We pinned it up on my bulletin board, because we thought it would be funny, and because we wanted to see how long it would take Mike to notice it. It’s not unusual for us to pin pictures up there, though usually they’re the random headshots of people from political advertisements or real estate fliers. (Is that weird?) It amuses us, in any case. This picture though… while not painful exactly, it made me… uncomfortable. It made me think of the past. Not just of them, but of every lost friendship I’d ever had ever.
And I’m so glad we put it up there.
I’ve walked by that photo every day for weeks now, and it’s come to stand for something important. It stands for healing. It stands for letting go. It stands as a reminder that I can make it through the icky parts of life. It stands as a reminder that I can do hard things. It stands for one chapter ending, and another chapter (a good one! an exciting one!) beginning. A chapter that – no matter how very stressful it is to get there – I’m very much looking forward to.
New beginnings. It stands for new beginnings.
And for a handful of really big reasons, and about a hundred and twenty seven little ones, I really need a new beginning.
When I finally get rid of that picture… that picture of the boy that was once lovingly sent in a Christmas card… When I get rid of that picture? I’ll finally be ready.