God Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Cannot Pack

September 29, 2011

Here’s the thing about moving: it sucks. Well, at least the part where you have to pack up all your stuff into crappy cardboard boxes, which requires organizing all your stuff, or at least having some sense of what is worth packing and what is really better sent to Goodwill and when all that stuff includes nearly six years’ worth of kid and baby crap, some of which is really actually crap – my god, the crayons! the displaced puzzle pieces! the Happy Meal toys! – and some of which holds some totemic nostalgia power, it’s really, really hard to sort it all out and you find yourself wishing , in some dark corner of your heart, that your house would just catch fire or that the earth would just swallow up it up or something – you wouldn’t be in it, of course, nor would your kids or your cats or your husband or your Macbook – so that you could just start over. You know?

I’m in Toronto this week, trying to balance work-work with the slog-work of packing and getting my family ready for the move down to New York, and goddammit if it doesn’t suck total shitballs. Kyle’s finishing his last shoot and Jasper’s asthma has been acting up and the cats keep finding random craft supplies that they chew on and then vomit up onto the exact place where I put my bare feet every morning and somehow, in the midst of all this, I’m supposed to figure out whether to pack the spare bedding and move it across the border or just buy new bedding at the Brooklyn Target – there will be Target! I cling to that! – and which of the kids’ baby clothes I want to keep forever for the purposes of weeping over when they’re teenagers and which should just be passed along to friends and the Salvation Army. And it is HARD. All I want to do is lay down on the floor with a bottle of tequila and pretend that we’re all just already there, in our new place, and that everything is done.

But it isn’t done. It’s going to take a while for it to be done. I’ll be gone again before it’s done, which means that part of the challenge for me is accepting that I don’t and won’t have total control over how this move goes. I certainly don’t and won’t have control over how the packing goes. Hell, I don’t even have any authority over how the Thomas trains get packed, and whether pants are required for their packing.

So. Is there a Serenity Prayer for moving? Because I think I need it.


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    Kat September 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Goodness me, first comment.

    Wishing you all the best for the move. I don’t know any serenity prayers for moving, but for things with an unmovable deadline (the kind where the move will happen, no matter what, and no matter how ready you are), I remind myself that this too shall pass – and will all be over soon (sometimes counting down the days).

    Also know that everyone’s wishing you the best, even teaching fellows who should currently be working in their office in New Zealand instead of catching up on blogs over lunch.

    Sally C. September 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Having done five military moves in the last eight years, here’s what I know. Having movers box and truck your stuff is awesome. Sorry you have to do that part yourself. But here’s the other thing I know….just move all of it. Then, in the new place, unpack slowly, find the right home for stuff, and make the sorting decision on what should come in to your new space. Nothing is worse than wishing you’d kept that lamp you gave to Goodwill when you’re out to buy another one. Good luck!!

    Marian September 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    What great advice here.

    I do two things to get through upheaval (which is slowing to a crawl in my house, after 3 years):

    1. Since I can’t be as creative as I want, but the ideas keep coming, I have a folder and I jot on scraps of paper my plans, so there is a sense that my priorities are what they are, but I have a folder to look forward to going through.

    2. I’ve learned to stop amidst the chaos to breathe, whatever, close my eyes and imagine it all done, so I will remember how to relax and enjoy once the upheaval is over. I was drinking and eating for comfort and kept it up when I didn’t need so much comfort … breathing and visualizations do not bring on hangovers or sit on the hips.

    Also, you can create a soundtrack for this period in your life–music to spark memories, years to come, of this exciting, trying time.

    Anyway, you are still writing amidst it all … thank you.

    alison kramer September 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

    When we moved back from the UK, we couldn’t bring very much back with us (company moved us there, and we couldn’t afford to ship it back). We left pretty much everything.
    Any toy that couldn’t fit in a carry-on.
    All our University text books.
    Clothes that didn’t fit us, or fit in a suitcase.
    The boxes of wires and thingies which i’m not sure what they do, but always seem to come in handy.
    I only really miss the books :)

    Josette at Halushki September 30, 2011 at 9:42 am

    God, grant me the serenity to throw away the things I haven’t used in the past 6 months,
    Courage to know that this move isn’t as bad as, say, third world hunger or the current economic recession,
    And wisdom to know know when to ask for a second round of booze.

    Well…that’s the Jesuit’s version, anyway.

    Selena September 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Oh my word, but do I feel your pain. We moved but a few short months ago. Which when 8 months pregnant, and taking on a reno – was suckage of the shitballs of the highest order. And I love home reno, decorating, puttering etc. But not in the heat of the summer, in the final throes of growing human with a 17 month old. Nuh, uh.

    Reading your current state of affairs however, makes my heart and brain literally pang for yours. (Heart and brain). For you. Because moving your (young) family across the BORDER? There should be some sort of support group for that. Aside from wine and chocolate that is.

    Karianna September 30, 2011 at 10:05 am

    It is true, moving is super-stressful. But the unpacking and fresh start can be a satisfying thrill. Best of luck!

    Marian September 30, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I wrote my comment before my day actually really began … I just ate a bowl of homemade cinnamon ice cream and it’s only 11a.

    Moving is stressful.

    Hillary Manaster September 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I’d want be on the floor with a bottle of tequila too. Good luck with your move.

    Selena September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Oh yea, and to the bottle of tequila? I send that motion. Let us all hang out on a floor with tequila. Do we really need a reason? Really? Nahhhh…

    Janis Meredith September 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I feel your pain. I just moved from CA to FL. It was a painful, stressful, sad goodbye and I hate moving and packing and unpacking. I hate how must stuff I packed and figured out when unpacking it that maybe I didn’t really need it after all. I hate how I now face an empty nest in addition to being new in a strange city. Sigh. But life goes on. I will adjust. But the transition…it sucks.

    Christine October 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

    You are causing me to have quite an unpleasant flashback. Moving is a full-time job which the rest of the world and your other full time job doesn’t recognize (kind of like motherhood.) It is hateful and tedious and always takes more time than you think. I never want to move again.

    Also, the Target at The Junction in Flatbush is better than the one on Atlantic Ave IMHO. Target is your friend. Use the force. Brooklyn awaits :)

    Denise-EPL October 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Having moved twice in 2 months (temp apt until we closed on new house) my advice would be do not take all your crap to the new place. Buy new bedding for guests, leave all random odds & ends behind, use the opportunity to say goodbye to those things you may have tossed years ago if you just had the time/energy.

    It’s hardwork, but pays off for your new space!

    Marian October 4, 2011 at 9:29 am

    A New Jersey Target destination is close-by and we live in a gorgeous state for pumpkins, apples, and leaves this time of year.

    Since it’s nearing Halloween, I’ll share this tidbit: My husband and I already own our burial plots, because one of the stories of 9/11 was of a husband telling his wife all of the important information, as his plane was going down …. I pulled my husband to the side and said, Help me get everything together now, so I can just grieve, and not have to deal with anything I don’t have to, if you go before me (even though we’re still young). So, we bought our plots, wrote down all the passwords to bank accounts, and anything else he knew that I didn’t, etc.

    We will be buried next to a Target and across the way from an IHOP (somewhere to go after death) and the highway the cemetery is on is the same one that ran near to the house I was born in: I will have come full circle and I love it.

    And one more thing I’ve been meaning to tell you: You pointed us in the direction of Roscommon Acres, after Dana’s son died tragically by a falling dresser. Well, I was overcome, of course, but discovered something in her writing: for many reasons I was not going to have children, yet, in Dana’s loss my heart was opened, and we have started the adoption process.

    Her Tiggy led me to not fear that huge mother love. Thank you for mentioning Dana.

    I hope your move is coming along. I keep your mother in my thoughts. Enjoy this autumn day.

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