Moving, like grief, evokes a specific set of emotions among those who are doing it. I would know. I’ve moved five times within the last three years. I’m familiar with the process, and it’s exactly the same every time. So if you’re thinking of moving anytime soon, remember this. Know what you’re up against. It’s the only way to come out on top.
There are a few key signals that let you know that you’re going through the “denial” stage of moving. You’ve looked at places. You’ve signed a lease or taken out a mortgage. You have a date that you’ll be moving on. But following all that, you’ll notice yourself thinking dangerous thoughts that might clue you in as to how not ready you are mentally. “Oh, I don’t have to pack yet. Moving day isn’t for a while.” This works when moving day is two months away, but you’ll notice the feeling that you don’t actually have to pack your stuff doesn’t go away when you get to the point that you really should have started packing your stuff. “I’ll organize my room. That way, when I pack, I’ll know exactly where everything is so my boxes can be nice and neat.” Good luck spending the next two months organizing your room. “Ooh, getting a lease that gives me overlap is great! I’m going to go to the new place and paint. I can pack later.” With few exceptions, you can paint once you’re there. Any of these thoughts, or thoughts like this, express one sentiment that you might not even be conscious of: This isn’t actually happening. Or at least, it’s not happening any time soon. You’ll deny the time you have left and, even worse–you’ll deny the fact that you haven’t done shit yet.
Eventually you realize you’ve been in denial. Usually about two days before moving day. Then you’ll start assembling your boxes and look around you and think: “Shit. When did I get so much SHIT.” You’ll notice how angry you are at every single one of your possessions. “T-shirt. I don’t even fucking wear you. What are you DOING in my HOUSE?” or “Fuck you, Nightstand. DON’T fit into the moving truck. See if I give a fuck.” You’ll also notice that you’re directing anger at yourself. “Rachael, you stupid bitch, you should fucking know by now. You’ve moved enough times. It takes more than two days to pack all your belongings. Screw you.” This anger may seem irrational, but it’ll get you moving–and chances are, you’ll end up with a nice bonfire of shit you’re angry at, too.
“Oh please just get in a box stuff just fit in the damn box please I’ll do anything I will even tape the box shut so it’s slightly open on top if you will just fit.” Sound familiar? You’ve moved recently, then. “Okay, bedroom, I know I organized you and everything but right now I need you work with me here. Please just pack yourself up. I will trade ‘organization’ for ‘speed.’ I don’t really care that much about being organized, anyway. Just work.” This one’s a little more dangerous, because soon you might find yourself putting things in boxes that don’t belong together at all. Make sure to keep your sex toys out of any boxes that might be opened immediately–like the one with the deodorant that you’ll want to put on as soon as you realize how much packing up the van has made you smell.
In some great miracle, you’ve managed to pack up all your belongings in an increasingly disorganized fashion. You’ve put it all into a moving truck. You even got the truck to your new place. With some help from friends or family, you got all the boxes and furniture into the appropriate room, or at least into your new home. At this point, you’ll look around, completely exhausted from a few days of heavy lifting and freaking the fuck out over how you’re going to get stuff to your new place, and burst into tears. Because you’re not done yet. You’ll look around your awesome new place and say, “No. No, don’t. I can’t. This…this has to be over. What did I do wrong? I’m so sorry. I’m…*sob* just not sure where to even put this.” It might also come with a few realizations about your place. “These cabinets. They’re so nifty! I love them!” will turn into “What the fuck can I even put here? They’re so tiny.” You’ll set up your bed, put some sheets on it, and refuse to do anything for days. You’ll feel apathetic and worthless. Don’t worry, though. It’s just a part of the process.
Acceptance happens approximately a month after you’ve moved. You’ve gone through the depression stage and forced yourself to set up a few rooms. Your kitchen is at least a little organized. The cable guy came so you have TV and internet. But at some point, you’re going to look at your place and think: “We’ve been here for two months. These boxes are NEVER getting unpacked.” And, for now, you’re completely okay with that. You’ll stash them in a closet or a basement, forget that you own them, wonder why you bothered moving stuff that you clearly don’t care enough about to unpack, and move on. And next time you move, those boxes will come with you. “Oh, I was so smart. This made so much less work for me!” you’ll think, not even considering the fact that in the years you’ve lived in your place, you didn’t look at the items once.
I’m still slightly convinced that we’ll get the rest of the boxes unpacked and set up. I just have to finish painting. It won’t take long. I’m not in denial. I haven’t started a whole new cycle. I swear. I just want a red kitchen.