Turns out I am the absolute worst at moving.
I’ve been packing up here and there, hauling items to donate, throwing things away, making slow but steady progress for a few weeks now. I started cleaning rooms and closets and declaring them “off limits” to everyone. It was actual closure to be able to shut the door to a room and know that we wouldn’t need to go back in there ever again.
Then all the sudden it was the day before closing, and we still had David’s office, our master bedroom, and our utility/storage room to pack. Oops.
On the one hand, that means I accomplished a lot. The kids’ room, the kitchen, the bathrooms– they were largely cleaned and ready to turn over to the new owners. On the other hand, that means the areas with the bulk of our stuff-stuff still remained.
When some of my family stopped to pick up the few remaining pieces of our furniture on the last evening at our house, they did not verbalize their assessment of our situation. Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep your truth to yourself. It wouldn’t have done any good for them to proclaim:
“You look like you have been up since five this morning packing and haven’t eaten anything but animal crackers.”
“Your utility room looks like a Goodwill exploded.”
“You will literally be up all night unless there is divine intervention here very soon.”
All true…not necessarily helpful.
And so, as I sorted through the miscellany that had gathered under my bed for the past 8 years and the even more miscellaneous matter that had gathered on my kitchen counters (the cupboards were all scrubbed and empty!) over the past week, my family just came and hauled things out of my storage room.
It was humbling. I had been spending time in the storage room sorting for weeks. My work included a decent pile of garbage, some things to give away, another stack of stuff that had been filed in the wrong tubs, and a bunch of things that could be consolidated and better organized as I found the time.
Working in chunks of minutes where the kids were settled, I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped. It was a room in process, just a few more days from organizational paradise. As it was, it actually did look like a Goodwill got hit by a tornado in there.
I’m not sure how the job got done, since I stayed focused on my tasks upstairs. I’m pretty sure most my garbage pile got put into our storage unit, along with my donate pile and several containers holding a combination of craft supplies/Advent books/size 2T boys clothing/memento greeting cards. Whatev.
As my crew of divine intervention left for the evening, I realized what a gift they had given us in their stuffing and carrying.
David continued trying to clear out his office, and I kept at my miscellany.
We had been planning to stay with some friends for the night, but it looked like there wouldn’t be much time for “staying.” We opted for a change of plans, with Cee and Elle staying overnight with my parents, and Moe and Bea home with David and me on the floor with blankets and pillows. That way we could work much later and get an earlier start in the morning before we had to get to our closing meeting.
We called our host friend to let him know about the change, and he said he’d be over with more boxes (hard to come by at 10:30 at night!) to help us finish up.
At this point, David and I were technically still alive, but mostly wandering around in a zombie-like state. Our friend came in like a bumble bee or a humming bird or something else decidedly not zombie-ish given the late hour and helped us vacuum and haul the last of the boxes to our storage unit.
At midnight, he headed for home, and we decided to call it a night…or morning. I asked David to make sure all the lights were off downstairs. After several minutes, he still hadn’t returned, which was a long time to turn off lights, even for a zombie. But I know David.
“I said ‘Check’ not ‘Wallow!'” I yelled down to David.
“You know me so well,” he said as he drug himself up the steps, and we headed for our floor bed. I knew that if we shifted from “get the job done” to “start reminiscing,” there would be no recovering.
Bea and Moe were already sleeping peacefully on the floor, excited for the “slumber party.” David and I talked for a little while before he eventually dozed off. I gave up after awhile and decided just to haul a blanket to the garage and sleep in the van. Best two hours of the night.
Early the next morning, we gathered all our pillows and blankets and left for the last time.
It was too frantic to be emotional. The new owners were lovely and kind and gracious, offering more time if needed for us to pack up, but we decided it would be best to rip the band-aid off quick-like and keep our original time frame.
Now a few days have passed. The papers are signed, the keys handed over. The gravity of everything has sunk in a little deeper. Life is less frantic, but we are still adapting.
At first Bea kept asking to go home. “We don’t have a home,” one of the kids would remind her. The older kids aren’t worried or anxious about the displacement; they know we’ll be in our new home soon. There have been no kid-tears in this whole process. Sure they’ve been crabby and out-of-sorts without a routine, but no tears. From them.
I think it needed to be this hard. This busy. That way we couldn’t get stuck in the wallow-y mud, wondering if we made the right decision. Mourning the loss of our sticky sacred space. There needed to be this separation from our beds, our books, our dishes in order to inspire an instant connection with the new house.
And in a few weeks, we will be home. We’ll be reunited with all the art supplies and toys we’ve been missing. We’ll have control of our own fridge and cupboard space. And it will be like Christmas when we open up all the boxes that got packed that last crazy night that weren’t labeled and have no rhyme or reason to their contents. (Storage room roulette! A butter knife, some baby socks, and broken bits of wood from a cabinet door that we never quite got fixed! Jackpot!)
Thank you for your prayers during this topsy turvy time. We appreciate everyone who reached out to ask how things are going, who offered their time and homes to us. We especially appreciate all the people we saw those last few days who didn’t tell us how zombie-like we looked and just helped us power through. Thank you for taking this journey with us.
For most of December we are in the Twin Cities area. David works for Catholic United Financial and is starting to fill up his next few weeks with meeting friends and family to share the great work CUF is doing for families and parishes. If you happen to live nearby, he’d be happy to pencil your family in for a quick visit. During this time of transition and homelessness, it will be good for him to stay busy. <3