My Life in Boxes

Moving is a lot of work, but packing up your worldly goods and transporting them from point A to point B is fairly straightforward. I wish that had been the case in my situation. My move from PA to FL involved a few “extra” steps:

politifact-photos-Moving_boxes

  • Packing to be ready for the movers on August 28th
  • Coordinating the arrival and unloading of my belongings at the destination on September 1st
  • Designating certain boxes to be first on the truck, so they could be last off the truck, so that I would have easier access to them once they were put in storage
  • Leaving cleaning supplies, vacuum, lights, some tools, and an assortment of other items needed to clean up the apartment until September 2nd, when I had to turn in the keys
  • Moving those items to a friend’s house until my final departure on October 20th
  • Leaving enough clothes, toiletries, computer, and other items needed for day-to-day living until my final departure on October 20th

Of course, there was a lot of other things going on during this time that made it even more chaotic.

  • I had just returned from FL on August 2nd after spending two weeks getting my daughter situated. She accepted a position in Orlando and we had to get her a car and an apartment, so that she was ready to start work on July 27th.
  • My mother had about two doctor appointments each week, from September 1st until the time I left.
  • I was frantically trying to get instructions in place for the person who would take over my job. I was already working a reduced schedule so that I could take mom to her appointments.
  • I was dealing with many emotions during this whole time: guilt, fear, sadness, and excitement to name a few

I spent three weeks packing a two bedroom apartment and at one point it felt like I would NEVER get every single thing packed. I had moved eight years prior and left a lot of stuff behind, but had acquired a few new things along the way. I couldn’t fathom what it must be like to pack an entire house, complete with attic and basement. I couldn’t do it.

Right now me and my belongings are in limbo. I’m living temporarily with my son and daughter-in-law, who graciously invited me to stay with them while I job search. Because this is a new start, I really want to make good decisions. I want to hold out for a job that is truly meaningful. Which job that is, I’m not sure.

Job Search GIF

My son came in from work the other day and asked me if I was keeping busy. I responded, “Oh, yes. I’m busy trying to find myself.”

He reminded me that I’m 54 years old and if I haven’t found myself yet, I probably never will.

But I remain hopeful.

 

 

Mine Your Own Material

The things we leave behind; there are so many. Some we leave happily by choice and others because we simply have to.

In 2006 I left the home that I raised my children in. I had remained in an abusive marriage far too long, but experienced mixed emotions about leaving. On one hand, I was desperate to get away from an alcoholic husband. On the other, I was leaving 18 years worth of memories behind. A lot of those memories were awful, but the ones of my kids growing up were priceless and far outnumbered the bad ones.

I knew for a long time that day would come, but nothing prepares you for the flood of emotions. Despite believing that it was the only healthy option left, I continued to second guess myself. I was anxious to make a fresh start, but terrified of the unknown. I knew that while familiar things can seem comforting, they can still be very bad choices.

There were so many things I wanted to take, but couldn’t. The roll top desk that we bought early in the marriage, the bookcase from my mother-in-law that housed my favorite stories, and the lighted Christmas village from my goddaughter. These were only a few items of a very long list.

Then there was the house itself. We worked long hours to get it ready and I invested my heart in preparing a nice home for my kids. My boys were one and three years old and my daughter wasn’t born yet. The marriage was already in trouble and I foolishly believed a new house would provide a new start.  Soon after moving in I realized this was pure fantasy.

After my departure, I managed to live without the house and all the things in it. I went on to make a new home that I grew to love, because it was truly mine and I found real peace there. However, it wasn’t until years later that I understood the connection to all the things I left behind.

Every item, large and small, had a memory attached to it.

They reminded me of a person, a place, or a recollection that had value for me. All these things together represented my past; my history.

Despite the bitter circumstances of my exit, I realized something important: we take our memories with us. Even though they’re often attached to inanimate objects, the invisible string that connects them is…well…invisible. It only exists in our minds, just like the memory. Although I no longer had these things in my possession, I could still feel the positive emotions they embody.

Now, when I drive past my old house, I don’t feel the intense sadness and loss that I did in the beginning. It’s just another home in that particular neighborhood. This change was possible because I took the happy memories with me and left the rest behind.

 

 

An Open Letter to My Old Apartment

Dear Apt. 16,

I wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I arrived in Florida safely. I’m sorry that I couldn’t stay longer on that last day, when I had to turn in the keys. I really hate good-byes and didn’t want to drag out the inevitable.

I hope you know how hard it was for me to leave. We spent eight good years together and I did a lot of growing up during that time. I know it’s funny to hear a 54 year-old person say that, but I really grew a lot in the time we were together. When I came to you I had recently left a very tough life situation. I was emotionally and spiritually crushed and I cried a lot. There was so much healing ahead for me and you offered a refuge and a home that I could finally call my own. Because you are on the second floor, my daughter fondly named you “The Treehouse.” Being at the end of the building, you provided a nice, quiet atmosphere, away from the traffic of the entryway and stairwell. I and my three neighbors enjoyed a little cul de sac of sorts.

When I first came to look at you, I thought I would miss having a window in the kitchen, because I always had one before. I thought it would be difficult to store my belongings, since you had no basement or attic. Sharing the laundry with other people was a new experience that I had to get used to. I was concerned about noise and privacy with neighbors being in the next room, instead of the next house. In the beginning I had these doubts, but I got used to the changes and my new home.

Eight times I carved pumpkins, prepared Thanksgiving dishes to take to my parents house, decorated for Christmas, spring cleaned, and sat out on my little balcony during the summer. I celebrated many milestones with you: birthdays, one high school graduation, four college graduations, one law school graduation, and a wedding. There were some sad times, as well.

I loved coming home after work to the peace and quiet you provided. I enjoyed watching the wildlife and the seasons change through the sliding glass door. I loved mostly everything about living with you. My only real complaint was about the shower situation. If the downstairs neighbor flushed his toilet when I was taking a shower, I would be temporarily scalded. I know you remember, because it happened fairly often and I cussed a lot when it did. I’m sorry about that; I know it wasn’t your fault. I’m also sorry for the hair color that I dripped on the carpet outside the bathroom door. I went almost eight years without causing you any damage! I’m guessing they replaced the carpet after I left, since I got my full deposit back.

I do miss you a lot. I’m enjoying being with my children, but I feel a bit out of sorts, since I don’t have a place of my own yet. It feels like I’m here on vacation and that I’ll be returning to you soon. But, I won’t.

I’ve been wondering who is living with you now. Who is sleeping in my old bedroom. Do they miss having a window over the kitchen sink? Do they sit out on the balcony at night and look at the stars? Have they been scalded in the shower yet? I hope they appreciate and take care of you the way I did. You deserve it.

I wish you many more good years with all the people who will come to you and call you home. I hope that they grow and make happy memories with you like I did. I’ll never forget you and I hope you never forget me.

Sincerely,

Luanne (Your Former Tenant)