Some professions require a certain amount of moving. You think of the military, of course. Some civilian companies like IBM and Purina have that reputation, as well as certain careers like the parish ministry and academia. My wife Beth and I have moved several times in our 27-year marriage: Illinois to Virginia, Virginia to Arizona, across town in Arizona, Arizona to Kentucky, Kentucky to Ohio, Ohio to Missouri, and this month (March, 2012) across town again. Except for going to school (Virginia), our moves have all been for Beth’s academic career....but the challenges of being a trailing spouse is the subject of another post.
The movers have come and gone, and once again, we are living amid boxes and clutter. Fortunately we dealt right away with the most complicated room for unpacking, organizing, and putting away: the kitchen. I took two loads of packing paper to the recycling place---paper stuffed into the back of my hatchback so that I couldn’t see out the rear view mirror.
In an effort to bring normalcy to the everyday routine, we soon focused upon clothing and bathroom supplies. In fact, since we moved only fifteen minutes from our previous home, we brought many things over to the new house in advance of the movers, so we’d have things we needed right away.
Currently we’re figuring out our office. Every house has a different configuration of closet space and drawers, and so the process is not a simple one of unloading and putting away. You need to think about efficient and convenient use of the space, which is different from your previous home. That house, for instance, had a built-in desk with plenty of space (and a closet!) for supplies and files, but our new house has an aesthetically nicer office with much less room for sundries. At the moment, I’m not sure at all how to organize this room. For the time being, boxes of office supplies fill the guest bedroom, which in turn can’t be finished until the office problem is solved (and until the bed linens, currently missing among other boxes, are located).
That’s a discouraging thing about moving: not only is your stuff hidden in many boxes, but your progress in one room depends on your progress in another room and perhaps yet another room, all of which involves a lot of thought about use of space, as well as evaluation of your belongings (whether you need this book or this cup holder or this decorative item right away, or at all). It’s not a Rube Goldberg machine but it has that sense of laboriousness. You can choose to throw things into a certain space and hope to find time to sort it later, or you can take your time and figure it out now.
When you move, you realize how many little things you have: nicknacks that live in drawers, items you had posted on a bulletin board (but now you don’t have a bulletin board), things like napkin rings, decorations for window sills (which don't quite belong at the new place). Although a book is not a “nicknack,” if you have many books (as we do), the quantity and the many judgments of where to display all these books (and which are more urgently needed than others) overwhelms. I begin to have a sense of revulsion against too many possessions, and I want to donate or throw out everything that’s not substantial.
Another thing about moving: it’s very difficult to come to closure. You can’t spend your whole day working on the house (you’ve other work to do), and so you have to take a break from unpacking in order to get other things done. While not a “neat freak,” I do get tired of the piles of unsorted books, papers, etc. that wait for their time.
But although you can complain about moving (as I’ve been doing here), moving is not a “trial” like serious illness, etc. It’s a temporary inconvenience and, if you approach it with the right attitude, a new adventure and a chance to start fresh. You can just “roll” with the process, try to think of it as a treasure hunt, and remember that it’s connected to new chapters in your and your family’s lives.