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Life Notes: Moving Madness
Settling in to a new home, a new reality
By Sally Friedman

On the first morning in our new home, I had envisioned sitting at the breakfast table with my husband, preparing a simple but special breakfast. We’d enjoy a second cup of coffee, look around at a whole new world and calmly open the cartons that needed attention. 

Please note that these were  visions of how it would be. 

Here was the reality: On that first morning, I sobbed not just once, but several times, when we realized at the same moment that our breakfast table would not fit in our very small kitchen. We both have loved that round table, that has been with us, well, forever. We had definitely miscalculated its size. So came the light: Moving is traumatic in so many ways, and those ways were coming in a steady, pummeling stream. 

We couldn’t find the coffee and had somehow also misplaced the bagels. We felt crazed, hapless, disoriented and overwhelmed. How does one misplace bagels? Just ask anyone who’s moved.                                

Moving is monumental. It turns sane people into lost souls. It makes you question your sanity. Case in point: the socks caper. 

I once wrote a college honors English paper on an obscure analysis of a T.S. Eliot poem. I brought three children into the world. I struggled to carve out a career in journalism when two of those three kids were still in diapers. But on our recent move, my sole, passionate, single-minded, failed mission was to find socks that had somehow gone missing in this move, despite the help of a wonderful team of movers. 

The mind, in a move, is under siege. Emotions are raw. All is foreign and challenging. Nearly all of our sentences that first week began with the immortal words “Have you seen…” 

Let me fill in the blanks: the tea kettle, my shampoo, my to-do list, the vacuum, our envelopes and, 50 times a day, my glasses. 

Our daughters and their husbands had descended upon us with the best intentions on our third day in la-la land. They had all kinds of ideas about where to hang pictures, place our accessories and plants, and oh my, how to angle the furniture. They were loving, good-intentioned and bossy. When they left – when we were sure they were all on the road to their homes – we undid their brilliant floor plan and executed our own. 

At about the same time we started noticing that in our new place, the morning sun slanted into the living room and kept presenting a light show all afternoon. The neighbors were truly friendly and helpful, and a caring staff at our senior community made us feel like royalty. 

Although we’d moved only 10 miles from our longtime home in South Jersey, the continuing care retirement community we’d entered was to be a universe where we could be free of so many burdens. Most delicious of all was a drastic cutback in responsibilities like, “Hey, what’s for dinner?” and shopping for the ingredients for that dinner. And people would come to fix things cheerfully just 10 minutes after a phone call, not five weeks and many pleading phone calls later.      

Magically, the sadness of change and initial bewilderment yielded to wonderful surprises, like long walks on gorgeous trails, new friends and yes, a new perspective, as less turned out to be more in terms of the shedding and pruning of our endless stuff. Like kids in a schoolyard challenge, we became competitive about which one of us could depose of more faster and wisely.  

A woodworking neighbor we newbies met was willing to undertake the alteration of our kitchen table, calmly explaining how he could make it smaller with no scars from that surgery. It seemed a miracle to non-handy folks like us. So did his fee: $4 an hour for his time. 

We’re down to 11 cartons and have mastered where the light switches are. Ditto for the placement of the “art,” which includes our grandchildren’s first grade art and collages – museum quality to us.  

And oh yes, yes, those missing socks? They turned up in a bookcase. We’re so grateful, we didn’t even question how or why. 

June 2018
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