Trying Not to Panic About How We’re Moving in Like 27 Days

It's Wednesday morning early. Greg and Veronica are playing in the front part of the house and I'm staring blearlily around the house, thinking about how we have less than a month to dismantle it all.

Moving always makes me kind of panicky, in an emotional way. For all the loss and change I've experienced in my life, I still don't seem to have a grip on it. It's time like this that I tell myself, "One day I'll be a Buddhist and I'll figure out this whole detachment thing. I'll know how to let go. I'll embrace impermanence."

But I don't quite have that figured out yet. So for now I still get tight-chested at the thought of saying goodbye to our nanny who's been with us since V was two months old, or to the stove in our kitchen that I dearly love, to the girlfriends here that I've become so close with, or the close proximity we've enjoyed to Vera's grandparents.

Intellectually I know that all of these things wouldn't have lasted forever anyway, that once we're moved and settled and the goodbyes are said and done, none of it will feel so hard. I have half a dozen examples of times I've done this before and made it through and been happier for it. I know too, that I'll never feel settled in Chicago, will always long for California, and that once we're there I'll take in the kind of deep breath I haven't done here, and I'll let it out, knowing I finally feel like I'm home again.

All this to say that I hate goodbyes. I hate endings. After my mom died the life I knew completely fell apart. I dropped out of college for a year and went home to Atlanta. That summer my father and I sorted through and packed up our family home and it was truly one of the saddest things I've ever experienced. It was the physical dismantling of a family. We had a massive estate sale and I watched strangers walk away with my mother's dresses, her evening purses and vintage high heels. I watched them sort through her cookbooks and cart away the furniture that had made up our living room. We had to find new homes for some of our pets too (unspeakably horrible), and I had to sort through the kind of childhood artifacts that I wasn't quite ready to let go of, but had to.

I feel kind of silly complaining about it. We all have to go through something similar at one point or another, even without a giant loss overshadowing the experience. It was a hard time though, and each time I've moved since then a hundred memories of loss float to the surface.

I've been trying to go back to the idea of being present lately. It's one of the only methods I've found to feel peaceful. I have an achingly strong tendency to steep myself in the past or to stream forward into the future. If I pull myself back to right here, right now, everything feels sturdier, more possible.

So here I am in the present: In my pajamas, the taste of coffee with milk in my mouth. Greg and Veronica playing mermaids somewhere behind me. The feel of bare feet on a hardwood floor. The green-brown river swirling by outside the windows, a robin hopping across the rooftop next door, a duck quacking. The feeling of safety and of certainty.

4 comments

4 Comments

  • Posted May 4, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I think staying present in the moment can be a real challenge, or really just a habit that takes work to develop. The past can offer so much comfort and “certainty” even it’s not real anymore, but the present is where we belong. Deep breaths. =)
    But what will your new west coast blog be called, I’m wondering?!

  • Posted May 4, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    In reading about your past moves, it seems like they were always met with questions about what was to come. The moves were sort of cloaked in a “what’s next” sort of theme. This seems like one of the few times where you KNOW what is next…or, I mean, you are more in control. You are going back to something you know and love rather than away from it. This move will surely feel different when all is said and done. At least, I hope so. You can rejoice in this move, knowing you are going toward something you love and your most dear are with you too.

  • Posted May 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    What an insightful comment. I feel really heard by this. And comforted. Thank you!

  • Posted May 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, dear. And funny you ask: Im launching a brand new website at the end of this month. It will just be clairebidwellsmith.com…with a blog, of course.

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