The past few weeks have been filled with the sheer joys of moving: you know, box cutting, packing paper, cleaning shelves, organizing closets, trying to find the stapler, etc. When I am not thinking “How do people move when they have children?” I am thinking, “We have to do this AGAIN in a couple years?” and “What the heck do we do with all these boxes?”
It should be nothing new. I’ve moved many, many, times in my life:
- from Arizona to Indiana (and, while in Indiana I switched housing 4 times, spent two summers in Michigan, and 1 in North Carolina)
- from Indiana to Romania
- from Romania to Phoenix
- from Phoenix to Northern California
- from California to Boston (while in Boston I moved three times)
- from Boston to Phoenix (while in Phoenix I moved three times)
- …and now to Oklahoma City.
The difference now is that during most of those other moves, I only had a couple of suitcases and maybe like 4 boxes. The only things I ever kept were books and clothes. My philosophy was, why accumulate? There’s so much freedom in owning only what you absolutely need. I picked up and trotted around the globe with ease. Everyone else thought I was certifiably nutso; I thought I was brilliant!
At some point along the way, though, I actually got myself above the poverty level, bought a house, got married, and Nathan and I became a very settled pair of DINKS - DINKS that like to cook. Therefore, our move to OKC required the sacrifice of a small forest (sorry trees, really, I am) to pack our belongings, particularly our ridiculously full kitchen cabinets. (Don’t judge us, we really do use all this stuff. I swear.)
Someone told me recently about an article that listed the top three greatest fears among adults: #1: Public Speaking, #2: MOVING, and #3: Death. This first struck me as absolutely hilarious (people are more afraid to move than die?).
But recently, I found myself kinda relating to that for the first time in my long history of moving. Being older and more settled, we had more logistics to consider during the relocation (i.e. health insurance changes, expense reports, a cat…on and on…) – while both of us were still working full time plus managing my photography business. Moving became wayyyyy more stressful than it used to be. In short, dying would have been, well, easier!
I think the deeply rooted and common fear of moving stems from something relatively basic: change is hard. And scary. When you move, you experience all sorts of grade-school-like anxiety. Will we make new friends? Will people there like us? Will our stuff get broken? Will we be bored? Will we miss our mommy and daddy? These childish fears linger, and as a result, most grown-ups just, well, never move. It’s easier not to.
In our case, moving wasn’t 100% voluntary. Nor was it 100% forced upon us. We own the decision together. The decision brings both good and bad, blessings and frustrations.
What we did not consider was being apart. We are newlyweds; we are working on finding our shared vision, syncing our values, knowing what we are working towards, creating the life we want to have. When I was single, I made quick decisions, did what I wanted, went where I wanted, and essentially, answered to no one. So far, based on our experience, it seems that in a marriage, major life decisions don’t just take twice as long to make; usually, it’s more like 4 or 5 times as long. And if you are a CEO-Executive-Type personality like me, this is the most difficult aspect of the commitment. I am somewhat painfully learning the lessons I need to learn about patience, and trust, and letting go of my highly-controlled-and-planned solo existence.
When I committed to Nathan, I committed to becoming an “us,” with the presumption that our marriage would change me, change my life. Being married challenges my selfish, hyper-independent ways. Life is no longer just as I individually want it – nor should it be. That’s what we sign up for when we marry. That’s the whole point! (Otherwise, why bother getting married?)
I believe that when it’s healthy, marriage is about a shared purpose. It takes you places, literally and metaphorically, that you would never have gone on your own. At the risk of dating myself and being extremely cheesy, it’s like Jefferson Starship said: ”Baby we can make it if we’re heart to heart. We can build this dream together, standing strong forever, nothing’s gonna stop us now!“
The new experiences that my marriage brings – including this move – will continue to enrich me, strengthen me, bring new friends and teachers into my life. Our new home, all bright and shiny and cozy and decorated and filled with our things (more on that next time), is the setting for this new chapter in our lives. New characters will make us laugh and cry. New plot twists will keep us on our toes.
Change will be required again in our marriage; we’ll probably move somewhere else new and unexpected someday. Stuff may get lost or broken. Anxieties will arise. Jobs will come and go. People will enter, exit, and re-enter our lives.
But as always, just like those days before when I had only myself and a couple suitcases, I am up for the adventure.
Now, seriously, what are we going to do with all the boxes?