So, I’m moving. Well, not just me, I think my husband and son plan to come along, too. But we are in the process of packing up all of our belongings from one house into boxes and moving all of those boxes into another house.
Along the way, I’m learning some things about myself. The loudest and clearest message is that I really hate moving.
Growing up we never moved. My parents still live in the beautiful brick row-house in St. Paul, Minnesota that has always seemed like home, and probably always will. A house has a way of accumulating stuff. Which is to say, people have a way of expanding their possessions to fit the space in which they live.
Which is to say, I have too much stuff.
I’ve started reading this book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I want to hate it, but I don’t. Mostly so far I’ve cried when I’ve read it. It asks you to think about asking yourself what items you really care about, what items you want to allow to share your space. When I stop rolling my eyes, I’m wiping them.
It hits close to home. (Pun intended?)
For example, we have two rooms in our house that are filled with items from my past lives. Namely, the room in the basement and the entire attic. I like to think that my husband and I share our space an even 50-50, but I think it’s really more of a 20-80. Except when it comes to the bed. Then he definitely takes up more room.
Anyway, the eighty percent of the space that I am taking up in the attic and in the room in the basement is filled with stuff from my classrooms, stuff from my last apartment, stuff from my childhood, stuff others have given me when they’ve moved, stuff that may be of use to someone, someday. So. much. stuff.
And truth be told, if a hurricane hit our house and I had to itemize a list of what was in either of those spaces I would probably be able to name about a third of the items, and that’s being generous.
Case in point, our real estate agent came over and wanted to see the upstairs, and I said, “Oh, it’s pretty empty up there.” Then I followed her up to see piles and piles of my books, clothes, towels, sheets, and school boxes.
This is the point when I tell you how that moment made me realize that I don’t really need any of those things in the attic, and I gave them all to Goodwill.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, I went up there, and my stuff started grabbing at me with it’s long finger-nailed claws. I sat down and read through boxes of letters, throwing away one for every twenty I kept. Besides the fact that this is a much slower process than I have time for if we’re going to list our house in two weeks, it is also not very helpful in the whole “tidying up” regard.
So I haven’t given it all away to Goodwill.
But it did make me realize that those rooms are not empty. Not in my house and not in my life. There are a lot of rooms with a lot of baggage in my heart and the very physical act of cleaning out a house has given me a close up to stuff, physical and emotional, that is weighing me down.
Which brings me back to the whole thing about how moving sucks. And about how this whole process fills like one big break-up.
As soon as we found out that our bid was accepted and we had a close date for our new house, I did what everybody does. I started crying. I started apologizing to our current house.
I felt like I’d been cheating, looking at MLS in my free-time, fantasizing where I’d put the furniture in my new place.
“Sorry house, I love you, I really do, but I have to think about what’s best for me. I don’t know that I ever loved you the way you should have been loved, etc, etc, etc.”
All super normal.
Moving is supposed to solve your problems, right?
But now that we’ve gotten this incredible house, I’ve started to realize all the things I’m leaving behind. And some of the issues I’ve had with our house are my issues. Like the fact that it’s always a mess. The fact that I can’t figure out how to organize the kitchen. And suddenly I’m starting to see that those are going to be moving in with me at our new house. Unless I deal with them now.
Meanwhile, like a good spited lover, my house is starting to really pull itself together. While I’m gone on vacation in a week, it will have a complete rehab of the upstairs. The walls are getting painted. It’s getting in shape. Just to let me know what I could have had if I’d been willing to stick around.
There’s a lesson in this, right? About how our lives will teach us the lessons we most need if we pay attention. About being awake enough to let the piles of garbage in your life help you to realize the areas of your life that most need tending. About how leaving isn’t always the easy thing, even when it is the right thing. About how you can run away, but your baggage is really good at keeping pace.
Or maybe a box is just a box, a cigar is just a cigar.
Here’s what I know. Each box we take to Goodwill makes me feel a little bit lighter. So as much as moving sucks, maybe my house isn’t the only one that is coming out of this breakup better off.
Also, on a happy note: We’re buying a house!!!
“She left pieces of her life behind her everywhere she went. It’s easier to feel the sunlight without them, she said.” -Brian Andreas