Life Notes: Moving On
Discovering how to settle in, once again 
By Sally Friedman

It’s been seven months since we left our town of 45 years and moved to one just 10 miles away. Moving is an out-of-body experience. Everything feels hurricane tossed, and the loss of footing is astonishing. At least it was for us. My husband and I are, we now understand, not very flexible. We love predictability. Give us the familiar, and we thrive. Take it away and we falter. So as 2018 winds down, we like to think that some of the shock of change and dislocation will also wind down. 

My husband and I are, we now understand, not very flexible. We love predictability. Give us the familiar, and we thrive. Take it away and we falter. So as 2018 winds down, we like to think that some of the shock of change and dislocation will also wind down. 

In November, there was, for instance, the realization that we would probably never ever host another Thanksgiving dinner. And instead of feeling relieved about that – instead of reveling in never again lugging bridge chairs and heavy wooden table leaves out of their hiding places, we had a strange sense of mourning for what was.  

Turns out, despite my complaining, we actually loved having a home that was holiday central. 

But now, we have parceled out the holidays that always were ours, including this month’s Chanukah. The line in the sand has been drawn and our adult children, and even our very sensible grandchildren, have gently but firmly pointed out that we lack the space – and the energy. It’s a familiar family scenario for so many, but so different when it’s your turn. 

One of my saddest moments was when I opened a storage cabinet in a hallway of our apartment and saw empty shelves. I’d almost forgotten that of course we’d distributed our gargantuan serving platters and “good china” to our daughters. “Where’s our stuff?” I asked my husband in a frenzy until I remembered that this was our new life, the one that was always waiting in the wings. 

Read More From Sally Friedman Here

This life comes with some empty closet space, smaller appliances and still rampant confusion. Seven months in, I can’t find my favorite shoes, the photo I adored of my late father and the newspaper clipping of a daughter’s high school writing award. She barely remembered it or missed it. But I did. 

And that’s the weirdness of moving. Things that are not of financial value suddenly become priceless treasures.  

I have sat in our new living room and wept – yes, wept – because in a lapse of pre-moving judgment, I sold my paternal grandmother’s hideously overdone, impractical lamp to a dealer who swept through other things I divided to – ahem – sweep out of my new life. Mistakes were made as pieces of our past were scattered to the winds – and the dealers. 

But still, as we come out of our moving-induced coma, there is room for gratitude: For unexpected pleasures and treasures and for some intangibles that do matter. A whole lot. 

There’s a way that the sun ever so gently begins to bathe our bedroom that is painted a blue I adore. And outside our communal courtyard is a pergola full of magical vines and shrubs that somehow seem to take care of themselves. 

We’ve met people who barely know us, but who seem to care we’re here. We’ve broken bread with residents of different religions, races, political persuasions and vastly different histories. 

One night we sat in a charming gathering room and sang John Denver songs together – off key, but oh my, with such spirit. We have wandered trails in our new community, become accustomed to using a Silo (yes, a Silo) as a way of directing friends to our home. And on one Sunday, we managed the miracle of gathering our adult kids and their kids for an organizing party of our locker space. Surely the least glamorous of jobs, but oh, what a necessary one. 

They also understood when we held on to them for dear life as the short daylight of early winter brought its earlier darkness, it was time for all of them to be on their way, to be navigating the New Jersey Turnpike northward to their homes. And for a while, we stood and watched their cars disappear. And then we stood in the parking lot of our courtyard, still getting used to the idea that this was our place now. 

“Let’s go home,” my husband said. And at last, that felt ok. Better yet, it felt right. 

December 2018
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