Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On How Moving Smashes You in the Head

As I take a break after clearing Ricky’s room, I’m thinking about how much it shakes me to move. Even this move, which is easier than previous ones, is starting to really sting. Suddenly, we’ve reached a point where chaos has shown its ugly head. You know what I mean if you’ve ever moved: the bags of stuff in the hallway, the piles of linens in the living room, nothing good to eat in the fridge, furniture missing, things you need in unlikely places, a feeling of uncertainty.  In three days, we’ll be out of this apartment and in one week we’ll be chilling in Morocco, so I try to think about that so I don’t panic.

As a child, I moved with my family from Argentina to Spain. We brought very little with us on the plane, and shipped nothing. I have blocked out most of the preparations that led to our moving to Spain. That enormous shift gave me a feeling of extreme loss, of things and people and places. Plus, five years before the relocation to Spain we had gone from Buenos Aires to Tandil, from the big city to the middle of nowhere, where we knew no one. It was a wonderful place, our house in Tandil, with forests and dogs and cats and clean air. The move from the city to the country I’ve mostly forgotten, fortunately. I just remember the fear, the excitement.

I just asked my dad, who was here to bring us supplies to paint Ricky’s room, what the moves were like for him. He said he liked moving from Buenos Aires to the country with two big trucks of stuff, but did not like leaving Argentina five years later with six suitcases. I asked what we did with all the stuff we did not take with us. “We sold some, we gave away most, we threw away a lot, we burned a little,” he said. Minus the burning, it’s similar to our current and previous experience moving.

I went to college in the US, lightly, with a couple of suitcases. When Bryan and I moved in together, we just accumulated things. Our first move from one apartment to another, we did not get rid of much. We just rented a u-haul truck and transported our second hand furniture. That was hard, physically, but not a move which made us think.

When we moved out of Tivoli’s School House right after college, we suffered. My sister lived with us that year, and the three of us (Bryan, my sister and me) stayed up all night cleaning the apartment and putting things into boxes. We got rid of a lot of books, which we put outside our building for people to take. It felt good to give away books so others could read them, to liberate them into the world.

We left almost all our things in storage then, and took off for California with the trunk full with suitcases, and more stuff in the back seat. Our friend Andrew who came with us on the trip had to sit in our Mazda with a blender between his feet. We lived in Los Angeles for twelve years, eleven and a half of those years in the same place.

In 2009, we moved out of Los Angeles. It was not fun. It took weeks of sorting and going to Goodwill to donate items and cleaning and finally, just leaving a mountain of furniture and assorted items in front on the sidewalk in front of our house for people to take. As if finding a home for all our things was not enough, we had forest fires and awful air quality during our last days in Hollywood. Our friend Tracy took Ricky out during the day for the last couple of days, so he would not have to see us emptying it all. Jeff, our friend and next door neighbor, also helped by entertaining Ricky in the yard and in his house with long pachinko games while we discarded almost everything we owned.

A real move breaks and strengthens you both. You suffer, you make decisions, you move on. You emerge a slightly different individual.

Part of what makes moving so hard is that we get attached to things and don’t want to let go, even though we have little use for a lot of what we store. But afterward, it feels good: once the things are gone to a friend’s house or to the curb, I feel for the most part a huge sense of relief. I feel lighter, freer. And the best part of moving: soon it’s over and most of the trauma will be forgotten. The brain does that to protect you. Cheers to that thought.


  1. "The brain does that to protect you".....
    Cerebro lo de tu celebro!!! :))

  2. You're leaving the chrysalis and breaking free!