In Defense of Moving

For Mark, Gina & Nora; Jimi & Shannon; and those in transit. When in doubt, get more boxes.

Moving gets a bad rap. I always picture the mess – the utter chaos – in our living room on Brown Avenue as we packed up to move in the couple days following.

We all tend to picture boxes on boxes and begging recruiting family to save the date and refrigerator clean-out, and I won’t deny it; I don’t particularly like any of these things. But it dawned on me that I have been married not even two years and can claim three addresses post-wedding.

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That makes me feel restless and unstable until I think about Brown Avenue, Springdale Lane and Naschette Parkway and appreciate each home for what it was and is. How each address served us uniquely. Each house, in some way, symbolized growth and ownership (yet we’ve never owned a house; we’re seasoned renters).

Maybe you haven’t moved in 20 years, like my parents…I’m fairly certain we’d all riot if they tried to sell that house. If you haven’t moved yourself recently, you’ve surely been on the other end of the couch, awkwardly lugging it through the doorway. The joy.

But, in defense of moving, here’s what I’ve found to be true:

1. Moving encourages you to get rid of junk.

If you’re the disciplined type, you address this during spring cleaning. If you’re me, you use each move to finally shred old bank statements and high school English papers you thought would help in college. You also finally toss the exorbitant number of glass bottles you vowed to use as flower vases. We don’t want to pack/haul/unpack this stuff, so we lose it. And with each home, we notice it’s filled with more things we actually care about, and less that we don’t.

2. Memories and seasons of life are distinct. 

One evening on Springdale, I opened up the back door and the front windows to let the early fall breeze drift through one end of the galley kitchen to the other. The slow cooker had been on since that morning, sending the glorious smell of fresh herbs all around me as I lint-rolled the couch and set the table. It was another Friday night, and I waited for Thomas to get home from a week of training, initiating a restful weekend. I remember the anticipation I felt, parents checking in to see he arrived safely, and dessert. Lots and lots of dessert.

Here on Naschette, we routinely host euchre around our coffee table. We get excited about the drives back to see family and have a place to grill that doesn’t involve breaking apartment safety codes. Horrah!

When I recall specific memories – the gems I don’t want to lose – from the last few years, I remember the house, and that grounds them in my memory more deeply.

3. You’re forced to think. 

You learn new parts of town, quickest routes, most convenient grocery stores. I like to think my mind benefits from these spatial check-ups now and again.

4. You realize what “home” actually is.

It’s not the fabulous windows, or the storage or the backyard – even though we invest so much in aesthetics, inside and out. I’m learning every time that it’s the people who fill the home who count, followed by the stuff that makes it uniquely yours. The photographs and summer mantle decor, your dutch oven and favorite blanket and dogs.

Moving out of Springdale, the heat was off and my parents and I went back for a more thorough cleaning. It reeked of smoke from maintenance workers and was completely bare, save for a grocery bag of trash hanging from a cabinet knob. At that point, it was definitely not home.

A house is just a house. “Home” tends to go with you.

I’ve also found that, in a miraculous way, it’s possible to have multiple homes – to have the places you grew up be as steadfast and beautiful as they were when you were ten. I’d argue they can even become more beautiful when you’re gone for a while. It’s a gift, simple and solid, and one I don’t take lightly.

I understand the desire to settle and stay put, and I eventually want that for myself. Moving can be hard.

But it, too, is a gift. Not always found among the bubble wrap, but absolutely when you look back and see how you’re growing, how you encountered a season of newness, how generous an address can be.

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