on moving

I wish I were writing about my favorite type of moving: running.  Alas, this post is about the other, way less fun, moving.  The kind when you leave one home to go to a new one.  This time we’re off to Toronto.  Well, Mark is, and we’ll be there mid-August.  What is it exactly that’s so awful about moving?  First, there’s the wrapping, boxing, taping, and lifting that is laborious and incredibly rewardless.  I’m always sweating through my clothes and instantly filthy.  I shudder about how dirty my house must have been all along.

I remember our last move and thinking about twenty-six times that everything must be finally packed.  But then we’d find a shoe horn under the bed and an oil dipstick in the garage.  A deck of cards and a second blow dryer in the bathroom.  At that point, things started getting thrown straight in the trash can.

Second, there’s the question of what to keep, what to toss, what to store.  I can be ruthless when it comes to tossing, but it is very difficult for Mark.  He’s so much better than he used to be, but when we first moved in together I was dumbfounded by the sheer number of cables he thought he needed in life.  Blue cables, yellow cables, brown cables, white cables, black cables; cables for cable, cables for computers, cables for televisions, extension cables.  And did he have the first clue what ANY of these cables were for?  The answer is, maybe, so we should probably keep all of them, just in case.  When he wasn’t looking I threw all of them in the garbage.  I admit, I am also guilty of bringing certain items along with us on multiple moves.  For example, when my grandma died and we were going through her house I found a stack, fifty to sixty high, of old Life magazines.  I had just gotten my graduate degree and I could hear the postmodern literary critic Foucault whisper, The archives of our cultural history! You’ll do a significant piece one day on the captions of Life 1969.  Yeah, that hasn’t happened.  But doesn’t it seem like a shame to throw them all away?!

Back to the current move.  We’re planning to put everything in storage while we live in Canada for the year.  So, we’ll be essentially possession-less for the next year.  Okay, I’m bring a sh*t ton of clothes, and some of our favorite things, and games and stuff, and we’ll buy mattresses, maybe an IKEA couch, and a card table, but that’s about it.  Are we crazy?  Especially with kids, am I insane to move without their things?  It kind of sounds romantic to be super minimalist, almost Scandinavian or something, but the reality is we’re not Scandinavian.  We have a lot of stuff.

Mark said to me today, maybe we should give it all away.  And the idea hasn’t left me.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

Third, moving is also emotionally difficult.  Each time I found out where we were moving I’d cry.  There’s such sadness in leaving behind a community.  When we moved from Portland I was leaving Ashley, the gals at Alder and Co., the friends I made at St. Andrew School, medical school pals, and the fantastic city itself.  I was also a new mom and we were moving across the country.  It was a lot.  I never quite settled completely in Vermont.  I don’t know if it was a west coast-east coast thing, but my kids were very small while we were there, I had a job at the community college at night, and Mark was gone a lot.

Utah, however, has been another story.  I found my people here, like I did in Oregon.  I joked with one of my friends the other day that there’s more intelligence among the moms in my son’s kindergarten class than any department at NASA.    Beyond intelligence I’ve found the transplants and the locals alike to be in love with the landscape here, the beauty and the opportunities it provides.  The people here are pretty mellow, and kind, and happy.  There’s a lot of sunshine in Utah and incredible seasons.  Finally, it’s really an amazing place to raise kids.

There were some challenges for me here, too.  I taught at a state school south of Salt Lake City, and I found myself in the extreme religious minority–meaning I’m not Mormon.  That’s not a non-issue here (sorry for the double negative).  There is judgment.  A lot.  And I felt it often, but I put on my big girl pants and decided, hey, this is who I am.  And do you know what?  It worked out really well.  I think students, especially women, found some safety in a neutral, even supportive, outsider.

I think it’s important to acknowledge the social and cultural implications of any place. Indeed there’s no perfect city or state, and Utah certainly isn’t perfect, but I sure as heck would be happy to live here forever.

I hear Toronto is great.  It’s supposedly the “New York City of Canada.”  I’m not crazy about the analogy because New York IS unequivocally the greatest city in the world, but a year of city adventures sounds fantastic.  I’ll keep you posted.

So, back to moving.  It’s happening, and I’m okay.

Fourth:  we are running out of tape again.


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