The Half Agony, Half Hope of Moving

homesweethomeIn trying to decide on a blog post this month, I find my brain’s idea bank empty. Lately, all my energies are dedicated to the frustrating, exciting, and exhausting upheaval of moving house.

Moving isn’t unusual in the United States. If you think back to the Oregon trail and the expansion of the country from the east coast to the west, it’s clear that the American spirit contains a bit of wanderlust. A search for greener pastures. Data bears that out. Based on a 2013 Gallup survey, Americans pick up their stuff and move more than people in any other country in the world. Jobs, family, education, and new opportunities provide movers with impetus for relocating every day.

Relocating even plays a big role in American fiction. From classics like The Grapes of Wrath to modern bestsellers like Twilight, characters who find themselves on a journey or plopped down in a new city provide lots of conflict and many opportunities for new twists on the “fish out of water” plight.GettyImages-3090888-E

I’ll admit I didn’t come from a family of movers. From birth to my late 20’s, I lived in the same Indiana college town. Yet even as a kid I had high hopes of traveling the world and living in another part of the country. In my teenage years, I fantasized about becoming an au pair or nanny someplace in Britain. In my early adult years, I started thinking of how I could put my degree in education to work in another state. After planning and exploration, I moved to Oregon in 2000. I packed as much stuff as I could into the trunk and back seat of my Toyota and headed off across the country. Little did I know, that would be the easiest move of my life.

No one explained to me that as you age, you acquire. Back in 2000, I didn’t own furniture. Heck, I didn’t even own silverware. I was free and unfettered. It made for a Spartan living space but a supremely simple move.

Now, as my husband and I prepare to move from a small apartment to a bigger one, we’re equal parts hope and grumpiness. All our belongings, from furniture to dishes to beloved family knickknacks are suddenly up for debate. Last night, we grumbled at each other over DVDs. A week ago, we debated the appropriate number of mugs and teacups a childless couple should own.

IMG_0133I know we’ll get it all moved, and we’ll be grateful for the new digs, no matter how sore our backs are at that point. As much as I resist change, new starts and perspectives have often proved to be the greatest blessings of my life. Even in that same small Indiana house where I spent the first 20 years of my life, I insisted on painting my room a new color every few years and rearranging furniture often enough to irritate my mom.

Change can be good. Letting go can be liberating.

How do you feel about moving? Do you have a move coming up or have you recently survived one? Any pro tips to offer? Alternately, have you read a great “fish out of water” novel lately?

PS. My Victorian historical romance, Rules for a Rogue, is on sale for 99 cents!


7 Responses

  1. ki pha

    Good luck on the move. I haven’t moved in about 6-7 years and that was with my parents, so I have no useful tips for you since I had no furniture I had to deal with other than my bed at the time, along with some clothes and lots of books.

    But I do agree on packing little and donating. Some things may be memorable keepsakes and others might just be cute but do pick an choose since you might add to it later, if you got rid of some older stuff.

    As for mugs/teal cups, keep your favorite and most used one and keep two or three more for guests or for when you didn’t have the time to do the dishes.

    • Christy Carlyle

      Thank you! And thanks for the advice. I have to admit I’m a keeper. One of those people who convinces myself “someday” I might need this or that thing. I’m getting better at letting go. However, I have moved often enough about 8 times in my life, to have lost things in the process that I still wish I had with me. It’s a balance of letting go and keeping those items (books, knickknacks, teacups) that bring you joy.

  2. dholcomb1

    best wishes…we haven’t moved for 15 years. I remember when my parents moved. they moved EVERYTHING with them. a few things Mom would give me. I never told her I either donated them or sold them at yard sales. Not family heirlooms, but just stuff.

    I love the stuff in my house. A family in my son’s school recently lost everything in a fire.

    Sometimes, we put too much value on stuff. I’m guilty myself. So, I don’t have good advice for you. If it brings you joy, keep it. I can’t tell you what to let go.


    • Christy Carlyle

      That in itself is good advice. 🙂 There is pretty much no doubt I’m going to keep my books and they are a huge bulk of the move, since we live in an apartment and own none of our large appliances. Our bed, the couch and loveseat, exercise bike, TV—those are our major items. Then there are always 20 some book boxes. 🙂

  3. jessicajefferson

    Both my husband and I got new jobs last year. I was happy, writing in my home (my completely remodeled home of 12 years where I’d finally finished the landscaping) when a full time offer for a really fun position opened up and he was promoted to a position a few counties over from where we were living. We sold our house in two weeks, much faster than expected. We were relocating to a new community (small town Indiana), and wanted to build. That meant having to move into an apartment for six months with my two children (who then had to be driven to school daily) and dogs. Once when I was younger we moved three times in one year and I thought that was traumatic. This took the cake. Needless to say, I missed every book deadline I had and am just now able to really wrap my mind around writing again. Wishing you a relatively painless experience with no recurring nightmares!

    • Christy Carlyle

      Oh Jessica, I felt your pain while I read that story of your move. I’m from South Bend, Indiana, by the way. 🙂 Moving is definitely a shake up, not just of our stuff, but of our entire equilibrium. We need to relearn where everything is and how to be in a new space. I suspect that’s actually good for us. Adaptation and all that. However, it is a painful, frustrating process. I hope you’re settled into your new space and finding something to love about it now! And thank you especially for your words about writing. My main fear is getting so distracted I miss a deadline. That’s why I’m trying to do as much as I can on the front end. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂