(listening to “Dinosaur Jr. – Bug”)
As we all know, moving is one of the worst things you can go through. It’s akin to getting extensive heart surgery, except that they need to go in through your ass for some unforeseen reason that you suspect is more because they can than that they need to. I have been through some of the most interesting, memorable, and legendary moves the world has ever known. I’ve broken records for speed, length, money owed, friends I pissed off, most storage locations, U-Haul Rentals, and sanity held onto (length of time). My recurring moving fantasy is that I burn down the house — and all my belongings — in a maniacal binge of laughing and drinking, and then disappear into the night to enter into a new life where I’m on the run from the law while maintaining odd jobs in new towns from week to week.
The biggest difficulty with moving, however, is not a question of where to go, what to do when you get there, refunded deposit, or even how to pack your cat. Simply put, the biggest problem with moving is head space.
When the decision to move is made, very quickly your Head Space switches from your current domicile to this vague and non-existent location which is forth-with known as your new “home”. The place that you are now storing your things and belongings is not permanent anymore, and within the span of minutes you have gone from comfortable to transitory. This does nothing for your state of mind or well being. An impending move is much like watching a trident being thrown at you: more likely than not, you will be able to avoid at least two of the three prongs, but which ones is still undetermined.
Once a new location is found, things become slightly easier. Instead of feeling as if you are directionless-yet-in-transit, you now have a destination and a focus for your future. This still doesn’t make things any better when you go to your old place at the end of the day. What point is there to keep up on the dishes, laundry, or cleaning when you’re going to throw it all in precariously packed boxes, lug it across down, and then unload it all again? As a result, your current home is now messy AND soon to be an ex-home for you, something that only pushes your mindset further and further toward a place you are not yet at.
When the packing begins, creeping horrors begin to play tricks on you. There is only so much you can pack in advance before your soon-to-be-ex-home becomes a place you can’t even stay the night in. Living out of boxes is almost as bad as living out of your car. The only bonus your car offers is a cheap and easy way to create the illusion that you are escaping your problems. However, when your problems are where you live, and you live in your car, this often resembles the behavior of a dog who is suddenly scared of his own tail, and thinks the best way to get over this is to run away from it as quickly as possible.
While you will attempt to pack with the intention of using sturdy, carefully labeled boxes, filling them with items that are neatly organized and sensically sorted, you will soon find your system completely undermined when you realize that you packed something you need for work the next day. Not able to find the correct box, very quickly you’ll find every box open, contents strewn about, and differently labeled boxes sharing their tasks with each other. In addition to not being able to find what you were looking for, your packing job is now mostly ineffectual, and your transitory home is even more uncomfortable to live in. Lucky for you, your new place still isn’t ready, but when it is you’ll panic and close up all of these boxes haphazardly, making it even more difficult to find things when you finally get to your new home.
But once you get there, you’re still not done yet. While you may very well be moved into your new home by now, your old one is still dirty, and after you put in a full day at work, you need to go to your old home and put in a few hours of cleaning before you can reward yourself by going home to unpack at your new house. Depending on how much time off you can get from work, and how much of your weekend you are willing to give up for such things, you could very well find yourself at your old place at midnight on the last night doing last minute cleaning and hoping to god that your landlord doesn’t notice the stains you can’t seem to clean.
Fortunately, at this stage in the game you need only worry about not getting your mail for the next few weeks. While this won’t really prevent bill collectors from finding you, it will definitely cause problems with your credit card company and bank, who will not be able to find your new home even after you call them both to tell them where you now live. Not that it matters much anyway, because when you do manage to try and put your deposit check into said account, you’ll find that you were charged by your old landlord for a trip to a tropical resort location that somehow had something to do with why the windows weren’t clean. Suffice it to say, the $16.27 they do refund won’t even be enough to cover the costs of moving, the time off work you had to take, or the U-Haul bribes you had to give the staff to insure that you could, in fact, take the truck that you’d called and reserved 5 days earlier. It doesn’t matter much anyway, because while you weren’t getting your mail, the bills for your old place that you missed will have gone into collections, and your new concerns aren’t with either of your old or new homes, but rather with court dates and accountants.
But, given 6 months or so to unpack and cut through the red tape, you’ll find that your head space is no longer being invaded and that you are comfortably able to begin thinking about where you’ll want to move to next. Might I suggest somewhere with padded walls and no windows?