Or, adventures in relocating. As I write these words, I am sitting in a completely new and foreign space which, at some point in time (probably sooner than I think), will feel fundamentally like home. This jumbled mess, this area bursting with the salvaged artifacts of my life, this magical yet very real apartment is mine. All mine. Just mine. Mine and mine alone. It feels like a friendly acquaintance who I may be just a little familiar with, if only because it is filled to the brim with my belongings which have yet to find their rightful place in this tiny space. But I can tell – even in these first few hours of being truly settled in for my first night here – this is going to be my home and quite possibly the best home that I have ever made for myself. This is an adventure.
It’s unusual for me to feel so sure and certain of something like this, but there’s one resounding fact that I can’t ignore: My move into this apartment was absolutely delightful. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?! Moving. Is. The. Worst. Who on earth has ever taken any joy in moving? (Apart from perhaps professional movers, who I can only assume are enjoying their work, if anything because they are getting paid for it…) Seriously. Let’s talk about this.
Why Moving Is Terrible
- You put your entire life into boxes. This sucks because you don’t really know where anything is, or if you do, you can’t easily access it and tape guns are basically the devil. (Deceptive, sharp, temperamental, THE WORST.)
- Putting said life into boxes tends to lead to an existential crisis. (Why do I have so many things? Should I keep this memento from a trip I hardly remember? Will I need this extra trash can?)
- Money, Money, Money. Paying for movers, paying for moving permits, paying to rent a truck, etc. Or, if you’re lucky and have wonderful friends / family to help you bypass those expenses, you still end up buying new things for the new place. (Because you got rid of the trash can, WHY DID YOU GET RID OF THE TRASH CAN?!)
- Change is never fun. We love routine and we love the familiar, so letting that go and embracing a move to a new space is always a little uncomfortable. Even for people who “claim” to love change. (Who are these people? I need to understand the inner workings of their beautiful / crazy minds.)
- No matter how much you plan it out, the actual move is always hectic. Timing doesn’t work, things get misplaced, you can’t find the f$%&ing tape gun when you need it the most… it’s a bit of a hot mess.
- The physical and emotional strain is killer. Arms and back are screaming while heart is breaking. Every move is the end of a period in your life so like it or not, there’s a little bit of a heartbreak that goes with the act of relocating.
So. That’s my shortlist for the (one-sided) debate about why moving is the worst. And based on this write-up, I’m starting to doubt my own statement above regarding delighting in this move… But both things are true. Moving is terrible and I hate it, of course! But both things are true. This move was special for me. It was my first time really moving out on my own – not with a partner, not down the highway to a dormitory for school, not to the basement of my parents’ home after my sad divorce – this was MY move. And. It. Was. The. Best.
Why My Move Was The Best Move
- Independence Day isn’t just a holiday in America. I felt strong and independent rocking this move almost entirely by myself. Run back and forth to the car 15 times to unload all my boxes filled with kitchen things? No problem. Play tetris / jenga with my car to fit as much as possible in an effort to reduce trips back and forth between Home A and Home B? I killed it! Figure out where to store all the kitchen things from those 15 boxes? I got this!
- I also had a lot of help. Don’t get me wrong. I felt very Beyoncé circa the Destiny’s Child Charlie’s Angels era, but I had friends and family on standby to help with the last chunk of the move, when the heavy lifting couldn’t be managed by me and me alone. I am so grateful and so very lucky to have good people in my life who love and support me, even when I go all independent woman on them.
- Somehow there was boundless energy flowing out of me from Friday afternoon at 5PM all the way until this fine Tuesday evening at 10PM. (Where did this come from? Usually I need so much sleep… Was I high on this move? Am I going to crash at some point? HOW AM I STILL AWAKE RIGHT NOW??)
- My new apartment is really cool. EXPOSED BRICK. Need I say more? I guess loving the space you are moving to can sort of soften the blow of moving being the worst.
- This is a huge change in my life and for once I have absolutely no doubt that this is the right thing for me and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That casual acquaintance is fast becoming a close friend, even in the short time I have spent writing these words. (Maybe an inaugural blog post is just what I needed to settle in?)
- As always, the universe gives us exactly what we need. Every tiny setback I encountered turned out to be quite the opposite. The timing that I thought was so off was just perfect. My body told me when I was hungry and when it was time to dance around the empty apartment. Strangers opened doors for me by chance only when I was carrying the heaviest boxes. The universe is magic.
I am still buzzing from this move. I’m living (officially as of tonight) in an unreal space that I could never have imagined myself to be in a few years ago. In fact, I don’t think I could ever have guessed that I would end up in this apartment, in this city, living this different and unexpected life. Certainly I would NEVER have thought that I would enjoy any form of relocating, but as I said, this was a special move. It was a movement toward embracing change while shaking off the past. It was 100% me going all in on me. It was and it is, always, an adventure.
*Disclaimer: Most of this post was written over 7 months ago, when I wrongly believed that my house was sold. (Oh, how young and naive I was.) I started to write a congratulatory (and somewhat panicked) summary of how I was feeling in the midst of this transformational moment in my life… and then I abandoned ship when the sale didn’t quite pan out. Since then, I have lived through the highs and lows of additional offers that have fallen through, each time becoming more anxious and eager to sell. And now, over a year after listing the property, my house has actually sold.
Or, should I say, the house? It isn’t mine anymore. It is betrothed to another. It is no longer mine. It is surreal and strange to feel that using the word “my” isn’t even appropriate anymore. This is just a place for me to sleep and house my clothes. It is currently a hot mess of boxes and empty cupboards and I will be out of here in about 3 weeks. It is all very odd but satisfyingly clear that this is exactly how it was supposed to happen.
When I reread the extremely premature post that I started before the sale was really a final sale, and considered the title of the post (which is left exactly as it was when I started to write in April), what strikes me the most is that I really got it right with that concept: Sold. Or, Everything’s Changing. EVERYTHING IS CHANGING. And everything is ALWAYS changing… because the things I expressed in April have evolved and shifted and grown in such a way that reading my April segment feels like I’m reading from a different story altogether. The story-teller is the same, but she’s changed a lot in half a year.
April 2016: Written prior to the first heartbreak of an almost-sale.
My house is officially sold. It is so unreal that I sort of need to say it again: My house is officially sold. This is huge. This is really and truly and finally the beginning of the end of my 7-year relationship (and 6-month divorce). It didn’t occur to me until very recently that this break-up isn’t really over until the house is sold, the closing papers signed, and all of our things divided and moved out. While this house is still owned in both our names, while his last few things sit collecting dust in the basement, while the cats he will eventually take live here, we are still in a twisted post-divorce relationship. By default I am and continue to be intrinsically connected to my ex no matter how much I think and feel that I am ready to be separated from him. Until the day we walk away from this beautiful home forever, we are still part of each other’s lives and it was a total shock when I finally had this realization. (How was this not glaringly obvious from the start?) Here I was thinking I was moving forward, when really I have just been teetering on the verge of that final major change without quite falling off the ledge. Well. Now I’m in a free fall. Everything’s changing.
With this change comes an influx of varying thoughts and emotions that change more often than I can keep track: Relieved that the house has finally sold. Sad that I have to leave the (now broken) home that I have cherished for over 5 years. Happy that I can finally move on from this break-up. Heartbroken that I soon have to say goodbye to my cats. Satisfied that we were able to sell for the price we wanted. Scared (with a side of panic) that I am moving into the next phase of my life which is completely unknown and unplanned. Excited for the immediate possibilities just ahead of me now that I won’t have the burden of a mortgage and house to care for. Stressed about packing my entire house in less than a month. And just exhausted by the range of emotions.
When I first shared that I was going through this separation, I wrote about my need to take things one day at a time. Those digestible days started to roll into one another and soon weeks turned into months and I started to see this break-up in phases and steps. But all along, I felt this wonderful comfort living in a limbo where I was somewhat stuck between moving forward and staying completely still in the tightly bound restriction of my unsold house. So here I am, now freed of that constraint, and the certainty of change has me paralyzed.
Most people dislike change. Or at least this is a general assumption I have made to make myself feel better about my utter repulsion at uncontrolled change. It is uncomfortable and scary and I won’t deny it – I hate it! But… I am trying to embrace it, first, because I have no choice and second, because I know that the benefits of this particular change will be positive and exciting. When I shared my Thirty Thoughts at the beginning of the year I wrote about pushing to get out of my comfort zone and this is the biggest push I can think of. The fact that I can’t control it makes it an even better adventure, because I will have to force myself to let go and live my mantra of nonetofigo by going with the flow and making choices when they are immediately in front of me. Scary! Trying to frame it as exciting!
As I have inched toward that sold sign being displayed on my front lawn (FYI, selling a house is a crazy process), I have tried to mentally prepare myself for the discomfort of change that is just ahead of me. Going to yoga really helps, mainly by keeping me grounded and helping me release stress – that hour on my mat is an exercise in breathing slowly while focusing on my body and spirit, and after each session I feel calm and happy and at peace with whichever emotion might be at the top of my heart on that given day. Lately I have taken this further by setting an intention at the start of each session. This is something a few of the instructors encourage for your hour of practice and it’s a simple statement you repeat to yourself – may I be happy, may I be calm, may I find strength, etc. I always make a point to choose an intention that reflects how I’m feeling off the mat – to love myself and enjoy my time alone, to release my stress and anxiety, to say yes and try to live with yes energy, and so on.
When it became clear in recent weeks that the sale of my house was imminent, I found myself regularly repeating “may I embrace change” at the start of each session. Hopefully it’s preparing me for what’s ahead and incredibly, the very first time I set this intention I was offered the opportunity to embrace change almost immediately. It was a Monday night session of yoga with a new instructor I had never seen before and mid-way through the hour she announced that we would be doing wall yoga for the rest of the session. Wall Yoga! Talk about a major change in my usual yoga routine. I laughed to myself internally, repeated “may I embrace change” and (delicately) jumped into the harness.
It was terrifying for about 3 minutes… and then so much fun. You literally hang off the wall in your usual poses and completely let go, allowing the harness and gravity to hold you in place while pulling you downward in perfect harmony. It is one of the most liberating things I have ever done in my life: The act of relinquishing all control, releasing the fear of falling, and finding that magical spot between hanging and holding myself firmly in the pose, all while taking those deep and calming breaths… it was amazing. Yoga already makes me feel so powerful in body and mind, so pushing sideways off a wall with just the tips of my toes brought me to superhero level.
The universe was clearly trying to send me a message when I set that intention for the first time. Embracing change doesn’t have to be terrible. It can actually be the greatest feeling in the world. I don’t think I could make this statement without having gone through the process of evolving from being totally scared of letting go in that harness to being completely enthralled with the powerful energy I felt once I got past the initial discomfort. And I know this experience was meant to happen exactly when it did, just as I find myself on the very edge of this immense change in my life.
So although it is difficult, I am trying my best to put a positive spin on the coming changes. The safety of my limbo between the break-up and my new life has put me into a lull that I’ve been happy to settle into – you can’t make major choices or changes when you still have the responsibility of a shared mortgage with your former boyfriend, and that’s suited me just fine. It’s like I hit pause on my life while the house has been listed so I could go through the process of grieving for and moving on from the relationship.
Now I’m approaching the end of that cosy little pause; it’s time to hit the play button and I’m going to have to start making decisions about what happens next. There are some big questions looming… Where will I go? What will I do? Who will I share my life with? Have I really learned from the failings of my last relationship and will I be better in my next? It’s a lot to think about and with every question comes the implication of another change in my life. It’s scary. But sort of exciting. As my sister told me on one of my bad days when the prospect of all this change had me in a panic, the possibilities are endless and that’s not a bad thing! I have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want – the only limitation is what I choose to impose upon myself.
My intention to embrace change in that yoga class and the ensuing adventures in wall yoga feel like a microcosm of my entire life and current situation. Saying yes to change instead of no, feeling that very real fear when confronted with making a change, going through the uncomfortable process of changing, and then realizing that the change is better than anything I could have imagined was exhilarating. I’m starting to believe that this could apply in all areas of my life and I think I’m actually getting on board with my sister’s excitement about the endless possibilities (instead of letting the crippling fear take me over). It’s a choice to say “yes, this is scary, but yes, this will be thrilling too.” It’s a decision to let go and accept that it’s impossible to control everything. It’s the difference between jumping and falling off that ledge. I like to think of it as somewhere in between – I want to jump fearlessly into the unknown and fall with an open heart toward whatever will come, knowing that wherever I land will be a place filled with people I love, fuelled by the positive energy that I bring with me.
November 2016: Written after a year of divorce and growth.
So much changed in the 7 months since I first thought my house was sold. My 6-month divorce extended into a year-long debacle that dragged on for so long that I would sometimes forget that I still had a house for sale and an ex-boyfriend still in my life. People would ask me if it was hard and stressful to still have this going on, and it became such a standard part of my existence that I would just shrug and say, “meh, not really”.
And yet, when I got the call from my agent – the call confirming that all the conditions were lifted, meaning that this was really done – I cried. I laughed and I shrieked and I cried, and I felt as though a physical weight had been lifted off of me. It was a weight that I had carried for so long that I didn’t even realize it was there, dragging me down and telling me that this was normal, this was real life. The shift was unbelievable. Suddenly I felt so light and so free – able to breath, able to stretch, able to lift my head and consider everything available to me in this enormous and amazing world. No more limbo.
Reading the incredibly long thought process about my impending (and then aborted) exit from limbo shows me how much things really do change. (And also how they sort of don’t?)
- I don’t have cats anymore. I said goodbye to them in July and it was heartbreaking… but I survived.
- Moving in less than a month? HA! What was I so worried about? I have 3 weeks this time and I’m thrilled to be ripping off this bandage as quickly as possible.
- I haven’t been to yoga in months… and this trip down memory lane has reminded me how much I was getting from that practice. Why did I ever give it up?
- At some point between April and November, I started to embrace the things that scare me. There’s something exhilarating about being afraid and pushing through that fear – there’s nothing quite like breaking through to the other side. To me, it brings out these amazing feelings of being powerful and alive.
- I feel dubious about how optimistic I was by the end of my April post. Was I fooling myself into thinking that I was ready for these big changes? Was it a beautiful lie I told to find comfort when so much was uncertain? I’m not sure that I really felt ready to move forward… compared to now when I’m practically counting the days until this is all behind me.
- The big questions still plague me (Where will I go? What will I do next? How will I do in my next relationship?) and so do the people asking them (CAN I JUST MOVE OUT OF MY HOUSE AND END MY 8 YEAR RELATIONSHIP PLEASE?) but they don’t bother me as much. Nonetofigo, one day at a time, I’ll get there.
- I feel no panic whatsoever. Complete uncertainty, yes. Extreme excitement, absolutely. But there’s an absence of panic for sure.
I’m ready. Bring on all the changes, let’s see where my next adventure takes me.