The cat is not happy. It’s moving time at the Atkins household.
No, I am not leaving my beloved Vermont. But my daughter is settling into her first apartment. She took a job down south (Her beloved place.) and yesterday I packed up a trailer full of furniture to haul down her way.
I was probably a cat in another life. I hate moving. I like to get settled. Get things the way I like them and forget about it. But this is a good move. An exciting one. a positive one. And that makes a difference.
Twenty-five years ago, I thought I had found my dream house, a great big rambling farmhouse on the edge of Troutville, Virginia. Built in the 1790’s it was a semi-fixer upper, but it had everything I ever wanted in a house – history, big rooms, high ceilings. It had presence.
But life has a way of reshuffling our dreams. Fourteen years, two kids, four cats and one divorce later, I moved to a small 800 square foot basement apartment. It was such a terrible thing for me, re-arranging life and my space at the same time.
Actually, it was a charming little place. It was in an old college building, and you had to go under the front stairs to get to the apartment. You could clean it with a good sneeze. And if my furniture barely fit? Who cared? It was just me. But still, moving there was, I felt, a tragedy.
My next apartment was just 300 feet away, in an old building that at one time (1800’s) had been the county jail. You could look at the windows and see where the bars had once been attached. It was larger (my furniture finally fit) and cozy. It had a fireplace. Still, whether you are moving 300 feet or three hundred miles, moving is a pain. Pack everything up. Haul it. Unpack. A week or two of chaos.
But, this move did not have the pain of the first. There was not the pain and confusion of a 25-year marriage ending. Unlike the move to the apartment under the stairs, this move was made by choice. And that made all the difference. I tolerated it fairly well. But I still didn’t like it. I really am like a cat.
Then, of course, there was the move to Vermont. An 11 hour drive away.
Actually, it was no worse than the 300 foot move. I still had to pack everything up and unpack everything. You know the drill, you’ve done it. Maybe more times than me.
I’ve been here 9 years now. I thought I was pretty much done with moving. But I had not factored in kids. You see, originally, my wife had custody of the kids. I got them on holidays and summers and such. I was, to my dismay, a bachelor again, at 54.
But life has a way or scrambling reality as well as it scrambles dreams. A year or two after coming here, my daughter decided to move up with me. So I moved her up. And a few years after that, my son made the same decision. Another move. Then four years of twice a year moves for my daughter in college in Virginia. And a little over a year ago I moved my son to college in Florida. Then my daughter moved from DC (where she had a job) back up to Vermont. And now, I am moving her back south to a new job, a new apartment and a new life.
I’m moved out.
But this is a good move. And it really does make a difference. When I moved out of the dream house to my cubby under the stairs, I was miserable. When the kids moved from Virginia to here in Vermont, they were miserable. It was more like a fleeing than a standard move. We had just a few short hours to pack up and move everything. (and everything was more than you can imagine. Teenagers have more stuff today than I ever did.). Those were not good moves.
This is a good move. New work. New place. New life. I am not so old that I can’t remember the excitement of that. In fact, it is still kind of fresh in my mind, though my last move was nine years ago.
It’s good for me too. My parents died a few years ago and I and my two sisters had to do what all families have to do, break up a household collected over fifty years. A lot of the things I took from the family home, I took because the kids wanted them.
Of course, the kids had no place to put them.
So my house has felt like a furniture warehouse the past few years. And now a lot of that stuff leaves. As I loaded the last piece of furniture on the trailer yesterday, I looked around the house. It’s still full. Minimalist that I am, I seem to have a furniture problem. Maybe I should look up furniture addicts anonymous.
So out goes another load (this is not my first). My cat is not happy. She believes that all flat surfaces belong to her. And I was taking her flat surfaces. Lots of them. She sat firmly on the furniture yesterday as I packed the trailer.
She’ll adjust. I’ll adjust. Change is good for us, to a point. It is movement in a world where it is too easy to become stagnant.
That’s what I have learned in all these moves. Whether I wanted them or not, good came from each of them. I grew in all of them. Yes, I like growing comfortable in a place. Yes, I resist moving and change with the best of them.
But not too much. Adventure lies in every packed box, every mile moved, every re-arranged room. It keeps our brain nimble. It moves us forward.
Even if we are kicking and screaming, or like the cat, perched with a scowl on our face. I mutter that this is my last move. I am too old for this.
But we all know I am lying.
Be well. Travel wisely,