No one hates packing as much as I do. Trust me. I’m one emotional tragedy away from an episode of “Hoarders.” The thought of packing and sorting and hauling all of this glamour to a new place is daunting. I’ll need every strong-backed straight man and tireless lesbian I can find. And that’s just the physical baggage. But I think it’s time.
For me, moving is about more than just a change in location, point A to point B. It’s about moving on. After I got divorced, it was very important for me to “reclaim my space.” I sorted through every nook and cranny of the upstairs and the basement to find anything he might have left behind. I rearranged the furniture and prominently displayed all of the knick-knacks he hated. I was burning sage like a pyromaniac. And after awhile, things started to feel sort of like home again. Not because of the cleaning or the knick-knacks or the sage, but because time was passing and things were getting a little bit easier. As time passes and you soothe the hurts, the big ones and the little ones, you start to let go of the things you can’t control, what other people do and say, and focus instead on what you can control: you.
And now that the world feels a little less upside down, it’s time to be moving on. As much as I love my house and all the work I’ve put into creating the space just the way I like, it’s never going to be 100% mine. This is the house that we moved into together, and all of my stories are tied to that part of my life. When I’m telling friends about the house or the neighbors, the stories are about the two of us and our experiences, the decisions we made together. I don’t feel the same connection to the neighborhood that I did before. So much of what I think about this physical space is tied to who I was, who I used to be, and it would be easy to stay here and try to hold onto that part of my life. But that’s not how we move forward; it’s not how we grow.
I really hate when people talk about getting a “fresh start,” which is, unfortunately, what almost everyone talks about when they want to comfort you after a relationship ends. I don’t think there is such a thing as a fresh start. There are endings and there are new beginnings, but we all have baggage that we take with us: the relationships that didn’t work out, the things we said or did that we regret, all of the happy moments that are part of the past. And this is a good thing! All of this life experience that we bring with us, good and bad, shapes us into who we are. It gives us character, like an old house with creaky floorboards or cracks in the plaster, as we go out into the world and try to find those who will care for us, cherish us, and hopefully treat us with gentleness when we expose our soft, vulnerable places.
So rather than turning my back on the past, it’s time to move forward into the next new beginning. To make new memories that are mine, in my own space, in my own way. I’ll still be packing up the past and taking it with me, but that’s just the baggage. The stuff.
And I think I’m ready, though my cluttered basement might say otherwise. I’m ready to pack up that extra baggage and find a new place for it, a place with my own stories, new decisions and yes, new neighbors. Does that mean that I’m “over it,” that I don’t still feel hurt or anger or regret, that I’ve put it all behind me? Of course not. But I’m in the neighborhood.