The never-ending ending: When will this move be over?

Although my son and I moved into our new home a week ago—that is, our furniture and all of my books and our two confused cats made the transition—this has become an endless process. In part it is a matter of proximity. Moving less that a kilometre invites a false sense that you can manage the bulk of it on your own. In packing and unpacking my little Honda Fit and trundling boxes and bags up to our second floor walk-up over and over, two things become painfully clear: (a) I was completely unprepared for the reality of downsizing and moving after twenty-four years in the same place, and (b) I am twenty-four years older than I was the last time I moved.

Tonight, back at the house with possession date quickly approaching, I was emptying the entryway closet and cursing myself for not clearing out all of the coats, boots, and orphan mittens stashed into boxes or bags long ago. It depresses me how much I’ve managed to acquire through all of my incarnations, hobbies, and business schemes. I’m shocked how many toys my children accumulated over the years. As a queer single parent with a relatively low income, I always wanted my kids to have a lot of things. I couldn’t afford vacations, or all of the fancy things their friends had, but somehow toys with lots of small pieces seemed like having more. Or like giving more.

What was I thinking? What are we ever thinking?

Even my single friends assure me that the more space one has, the more it seems to fill itself with stuff. We admire sparse décor, but given a chance, human nature abhors a vacuum.

And then there’s the emotional baggage one has to sift through, and decide to purge or pack. For both my son and myself, there’s evidence of the losses we’ve suffered, or worse, created, in every corner. This final clear-out is overwhelming. And there is still so much to do. We’ve rented a van and made a few runs to the landfill and wasted a couple of hours carting well-used, but still serviceable solid wood furniture around to charities but were unable to pass anything on. It’s a bit heartbreaking but, at this point, I am content to pass on the hauling away to a junk removal firm, cost be damned, I need my life back!

I haven’t read a book for almost two weeks. I feel like I’ve been cut off from my literary lifeline, but have yet to unpack and fill all my empty shelves. Where to begin? How to organize?

Soon. Soon this will pass and we’ll be able to settle into our new apartment.

But first we have a room full of charity donations to deliver, a mound of recycling to cart away, and a garage full of old furniture, junk and all of the tools and outdoor items we’ll no longer need, but simply don’t have time to take care of. Hopefully the removal firm has better luck finding a home for some of the stuff but for now the clock is ticking and we have to clear out, tidy up, toss the keys in, and lock the door.

When it’s all over, maybe I’ll feel sad. I know my son will; he’s spent most of his life there, give or take, but I am ready to let go. The house is old and when I look around I am haunted by all of the projects I lost interest in, or could not afford to complete. It’s as unfinished as my life. I feel sad, strangely, for birds who will be losing their nesting spaces as the lot is redeveloped and the industrious little red squirrel who has amassed himself a huge pile of pine cones for the winter. And for the old apple tree.

For nearly a quarter century, that overgrown yard and 50s glass stucco bungalow was home. The only house I ever owned. Charged with memories of motherhood, madness, the end of a marriage, and the advent of my own manhood. Now its sale has afforded me a new lease on life.

Or so I hope.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

6 thoughts on “The never-ending ending: When will this move be over?”

  1. Oh, I can relate to this. My family moved *a lot*, across three continents and I’d been to 14 schools by the time I was 10. But the worst move we ever did was from NO 15 to right next door at No 13. Stuff that had travelled safely round the world got broken that day!

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  2. It’s 20 years since we moved but I can still remember the stress. I’m dreading the next one when we also will downsize. You’re right about how much stuff we accumulate without ever meaning to. Since I’ve been retired I’ve been going through every drawer and cupboard and chucking out piles of stuff. It’s heart breaking when no one wants it even though it’s in perfectly good co diction. Everyone seems to want new these days even if that means going into debt on the credit card.

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  3. Oh, I empathise so much, Joe. I am facing the prospect of downsizing from a house which *still* contains the presence and physical stuff of my three children. We have to shift *so* much stuff that it seems impossible and the emotional baggage attached to small bits of plastic (or worse, the faces of soft toys) is crippling. It has to go, but it’s not easy. Too late I’ve realised it’s best to have few possessions…

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  4. And, yet, every year those small creatures gather new and different pine cones and other goodies and make new nests and find new shelters. Perhaps it’s simply that they aren’t readers, which makes their shifting places so much more manageable. Meanwhile, for us two-leggeds, shedding is so hard. So tiring. No wonder you aren’t reading. In that frame of mind I find myself listening to CBC podcasts in ridiculous numbers, on topics that normally I wouldn’t give a second-thought (when able to read) but perhaps that’s not enough of a distraction as the closing date approaches?

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