Moving is exhausting. Pack. Sort. Fold. List. Move. Forget. Unpack. Sort. Dispose. Wash. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I have lost count of how many times I have moved in my entire life.
The first was when I was just a child, and my mother and I flew to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to be with my father. In Riyadh, at least four times we moved house, each move accompanying my father’s new job. I was a teenager when my mother, my brother and I came home to the Philippines, so I could finish high school and go to university here.
I was in college when we moved from our little apartment in Quezon City to our own house in Antipolo, and I was a young woman dealing with depression and trauma when I ran away from home. Since Oneal and I got married, we’ve moved three times.
And now this.
Moving is tiring and stressful. It forces you to look at all the things you call your own, and wonder how much you really need them. It forces you think about how much you accumulate, and how much you actually use. It forces you to consider your life in boxes and bags, in labels and categories, in “urgent” and “no, this can go ahead to the new place.”
There’s trauma and there’s excitement in all the upheaval, as I consider all the reasons I have had to move in my adult life. Moving house means leaving behind places and people (and pets) we love, hearts heavy with the knowledge that we will see different faces and different walls next time we wake. Moving house means an opportunity to start over, to let go of that which no longer serves, to refurbish old spaces and make them fresh and new again.
We’ve moved back to the house where my husband grew up. Our family has changed much in the past year. My son is a year older, so much more inquisitive and perceptive and active. I have learned much from therapy and mindfulness, and I have worked hard to be stronger. And my husband has gone through so much, professionally, physically. We were away for only a year and a few months, but it felt like a lifetime.
As we considered the move, some excitement came with planning where to put my plants, and the prospect of a large park where we could run. Then some sorrow came with remembering how far away I would be again from my mother, my brother, and my best friend. The night before the move, anxiety gripped me. My stomach was a restless pit. My throat felt like it was in the grip of a vise. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. As we drove to our home that was not quite new, I felt anxiety rising in me like bile. It was difficult to breathe.
A few days after we arrive, I got up early and went for a run. And I thought to myself, “We can make this work. I can take care of myself. And we can take care of each other.”
I wish I could say this is the last time we’ll have to move ever again, but I have no illusions that I can say such a thing with any finality at all. Perhaps my work or Oneal’s work will take us somewhere for a few years. Perhaps an opportunity will fall into our laps. Perhaps a tragedy will force our hand. Who knows? I can only hope the next one is filled with more excitement than trauma, more hope than anxiety, more joy than stress.