The art of moving and a seriously distinct lack of zen

Next week, barring any major catastrophes or nervous breakdowns, both of which are possibilities, we will be moving from the house we moved into almost exactly ten years ago in New Haven, to our new house in Hamden, just one town away. 

There are the emotional things about moving, even when it's not very far, which I'll probably write about more in the coming weeks and some of which I'll probably share, teary-eyed, with our Morris Cove neighbors over drinks as we prepare for this next chapter.

Then there are the mechanics of it. The stuff that make moving one of the most stressful life events, at least according to the experts. And lately, I've been talking about those parts of the move with a lot of people. With everybody. Even strangers. Constantly. I get it. It's annoying. 

The reason - and those of you who have moved understand this - is that it's all consuming. It's so exciting, yes, to be moving to a roomier house, into a school system and schedule that will make our life a lot simpler, and closer to J's new job which is pretty far away from where we live now. 

But this part of it. The packing/managing-of-home-improvement-projects/losing-sleep-over-details part of it, I could do without. We're in a nice position, because we are getting our house ready to sell as we're moving into the new place. Nice, because this allows us time to move in slowly, carrying cratefuls of clothes and random small appliances over a carful at a time instead of having to pack everything we own carefully into boxes at a rapid pace, although we have been doing some of that, too. 

Packing everything carefully into boxes, by the way, is not a strength of mine. The other day I told J I wasn't feeling helpful enough. What could I pack? Dishes? Books? He gently answered, "Why don't you let me do it?"


My jobs have fallen more into the management category. Ensuring we got our trim painted and sections of wall patched in our old house, and being the point person for home improvement projects on our new one. It sounds fine, typing it out in nice organized sentences like this, but the truth is I've driven myself crazy in recent weeks consdering all the details, budgeting and trying to answer tough questions that are not even remotely tough in the grand scheme of things, and then getting mad at myself for engaging in such superficial stress, causing a constant, internal, somewhat abusive self-directed rant: "Why won't the light in the basement stairway turn on? Should we pay someone to fix it? Could we fix it? What are you even doing with your life???"

In some ways this move is much cushier than the one we experienced all those years ago, packing everything we owned in North Carolina into U-Hauls by ourselves, and driving it hundreds of miles away. We are hiring a moving company to take the reins this go round, and if we leave some stuff behind, no problem; there will be plenty of time to retreive our belongings before we turn the keys over to someone else. 

It's more complicated, too. Now we've got kids with busy schedules, and at least slightly higher expectations, which prompted us to do a few things - mainly painting - at our new house before moving in, knowing that once we got settled, we were far less likely to take action. So there's simply more to keep track of this time around. 

I've been trying to identify what makes this process so anxiety-producing. Why I can't just wake up, make a list of to-do items and get it done? Why do I feel like I'm having a low-level heart attack for hours at a time? 

I think there are a few factors. One is that people are constantly asking us about the move, and it's kind of like when people ask how things are going at the end of pregnancy. No matter how much you're dying to talk about it, you want the answer to be, "It's going great, in fact it's DONE NOW!" But it seems like that will never be the answer and you'll live in this uncertain state forever. I don't mind when people ask me about it, don't get me wrong, because remember, I love to talk about it constantly. I just wish my my responses contained less existential angst. 

Another factor is that there are so many moving parts. Projects you have to do, or that maybe you've hired someone to do. Movers to schedule and pay and boxes to pack. Decisions to make about furniture and paint colors. Again, all this seemingly superficial stuff. But it's tiring nonetheless. And then you think you're done, and you're so not done because, wait, how am I supposed to know what pattern I want those tiles in?!? UGGGGGGH. Remember when I used to stress myself out about politics and career goals? And getting enough exercise or at least some exercise or at least having only one Reese's peanut butter egg in a sitting post-Easter, because face it, they DO NOT make you feel better.  

I guess it's all of it. It's the emotion tied to the logistics tied to the massive sea change of moving just nine miles away. In one moment I'm realizing I have no idea where to go to the grocery store in this new neighborhood and in the next I'm getting super emotional during my daughter's school musical, not only because she's doing a great job, but because she's not going to go to this school anymore, a school she's gone to since she was just three-years-old. It's getting a new bed and letting go of the one I bought in my early twenties, just beginning to realize what I wanted out of life, and a bed was a good place to start. It's piling toys into bins and hauling bins to the car, and trying to make this next step go just right because you've waited for what's next for all these years. 

It's all of that. And it's funny, because I keep telling the kids that change is hard, and it's ok for them to sad about moving on to a new school, and having their own rooms. But everyone seems to have worked it out in their own, healthy ways. I think that my clenched-chest and middle-of-the-night wakeups might be my way of dealing with all this change, because the truth is, moving on is really difficult for me

Thankfully I tend to find healing powers in identifying the problem.

It's ok. Buying grout is unfamiliar territory, and so is hoping the new neighbors like our family. Slowly but surely, though, we'll make our way.