Relocation Rule #1 : Do not acquire more than what you plan to discard.
I’ve moved over a dozen times in my life. That’s dragging mislabeled boxes up nondescript flights of stairs at least once every two years, for the last twenty. Mom and I have endured pipe leaks, popcorn ceilings, garish pink carpets, and uncooperative garage doors. We’ve also experienced the wealth of every fruit tree imaginable – lemons, avocados, jujubes. I was a lucky kid because there was always a new back yard to explore, a new fruit to discover, and new trees to carve my name into. But sometimes I grew up too quickly: after one particular move, my Ringling Brothers’ circus of stuffed companions mysteriously disappeared, lost in a move somewhere. I had to become an adult that day.
Naturally, mom and I became expert movers, picking up unexpected skills while trying to navigate life’s haphazard design. I learned to juggle plates and cups like a Chinese acrobat; mom unhinged doors with her eyes closed. (We used enough bubble wrap to enrobe the Great Wall.) All the while a dizzying number of hermetically-sealed boxes filled with our lives, that filled our lives, would stare at us sympathetically like onlookers at a public stoning. And no, there was never any time for feelings. This was a fast-paced gypsy life minus the tunics and caravans. Gap fleeces and a dilapidated Jeep Cherokee suited us just fine.
And as the story goes – I’m moving again, this time to New York City – a portal to those idyllic postcards of taxi cabs, pizza, hot dogs, brick stoops, and Times Square. When they called and told me I got the job, all I could think was bubble wrap, boxes, newspaper, repeat. Survival mode can become a bad habit that’s hard to break, I suppose.
Those early morning tape gun rituals will not prepare me for this impending goodbye. I feel guilty for abandoning mom and our cardboard- and Pine-sol-infused memories. And like clockwork, she’s moving again, too. We’ll soon be mechanically and stoically packing away useless kitchen gadgets (the Magic Bullet, anyone?), hosiery, and more evidence of our living selves. This time though, we won’t be high-fiving each other at the top of some unfamiliar staircase after successfully lugging up a box of “Diane’s office supplies” (actually filled with dinner plates). We won’t be debating the legitimacy of bathroom feng shui while chowing down take-out. We won’t be hugging out our exasperation and disappointment over the fairytale life we never had, and the nomadic one we fell into. Instead, I’ll be perched on a stoop in New York, amid bright lights, car horns blaring, with my cell phone in hand, listening to stories about mom’s new home and telling her all about mine.