There is no doubt that moving house is one of the more stressful events in an average life. Moving states feels even huger than just moving across the city, because everything is changing, not just the abode. Everything that is familiar is left behind and we now have to carve out a new niche in an unknown place. Naturally you start to wonder, what do I bring with me and what do I leave behind?
Unless you’re a minimalist declutterer of champion status, you’re going to take stuff with you when you move. At the other end of the scale, I know few people who would just throw everything into boxes as-is and not do some sort of assessment and culling of their stuff. The task is exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally, often because it unearths things you forgot you owned. Stumbling across photos of friends you don’t see anymore and wondering about them; re-reading cards you’d stashed away, because it feels wrong to just chuck them out without acknowledging the kind words written inside; heaping up a pile of clothes and shoes to donate to charity and realising that you can’t wear those treasured heels again because your feet hurt too much these days, or you’ll never wear that dress you love because you wore it to a wedding once and it will always remind you of that ex you attended the wedding with. Okay getting a bit specific here, but you know what I mean, right?
There have definitely been stressful moments during our move (trying to get our cats in their cat crates, for one!), but I’ve been trying to step back a bit and think about how to practice gratitude in the midst of this venture. I have met so many people in my life, who have affected me in various ways. I have read many books, adopted many hobbies, travelled to many places, listened to many albums, watched many movies, shared many meals. All of these things have left their prints on me, whether a light touch or a deeper mark.
Most of the possessions we packed up had weight and meaning of some sort, reminders of the rich lives mum and I have lived so far. If we lost everything – say our container disappears – it would be sad, but not a tragedy. Our lives aren’t defined by what we own. But at the same time, looking through all these bits and pieces has been a pleasure and a reminder to be grateful for all that we’ve been given in every sphere of our lives.
So now we’re in between homes and that triggers gratitude of a different sort. I’m grateful that although we’re between homes for over a week, we’ve been able to stay with friends and in reasonably nice places as we travel. It doesn’t feel like a holiday; I’m impatient to start sorting out the details of my new life, and it’s not a break between ‘normal life’ where we leave our familiar home for the unfamiliar and then return back to the familiar. We’re discombobulated, floating, disconnected. But it won’t be long before we get into our new home and start to feel more grounded again. I am grateful for that and everything in between, even as I sit with the uncertainty and exhaustion of it all.