I am not as reflective as I pretend to be. It’s just that I am at my most introspective when moving, and I have packed up and changed addresses at least 40 times in my adult life.
In this latest move, urban-to-suburban, I learned some things about myself. Things beyond the realization that I am now, absolutely, too old to move again.
“Being in the moment” is an impossible goal for a constitutionally worried and self-absorbed person, one who believes that she can keep bad things from happening by paying close attention to detail and examining a situation from all sides, looking carefully for bits of static catastrophe that might cling together and suddenly present an actual problem. But I’ve learned that this same person can, in fact, live in the here-and-now when moving. She can decide in an instant to toss things instead of packing them, as a means of conserving her energy. Even things that will be needed in a few days: balls of heavy twine; paper clips, dimes and pennies; chocolate syrup, twist-ties for the medium trash bags.
Likewise, in-the-moment moments can come while packing books. Finding an old friend, unread for years, is the perfect excuse to sit down and read a few pages.
Other things I realized upon moving into this house:
–I don’t understand the chemistry of natural gas, nor do I grasp the nature of combustion issues around hot-water heaters or dryers in small, unvented rooms. When I carefully crack the windows, I am no better than the ancient pagan who thought boiling a goat would keep the floods away.
—A cheap garden hose is exactly like a cheap shoe.
–A frosted-glass bathroom window, when installed backwards, affords the person outside the house a clear view of the person inside. The person inside, conversely, cannot see out.
–Home Depot would have delighted Kafka, as would appliance warranties.
–Squirrels are the gang members of the animal world. Afraid of nothing, they dare each other to do dangerous things and terrorize innocent bystanders.
–The definition of completely exhausted is when one sees and feels a spider head up her pant leg and instead of stirring herself to shake it off, she wearily slaps it flat against her own skin.
Moving, to me, has always seemed like a tiny death. Even when I wanted to move, which was probably 39 out of the 40 times, there was always a drop of sadness. In both a move and a death, it’s necessary to buck up and make snap decisions. It’s necessary to be nice to a diverse group of people, many of whom I would ignore on a normal day. Every decision costs money. Drapes, casket linings.
Strangers bring offerings of food, friends want to help, and have no idea what would actually be helpful, nor can the moving/bereaved person enlighten them. What do I need? I have no clue. I know it when I see it, though. The friend who showed up and quietly loaded dozens of flattened cartons into her car and took them away might as well have brought me a diamond bracelet. I could tell she was surprised that I didn’t have any twine to tie them up, but she didn’t say a word.