My blog I've ignored for 2 years while attending the Brandcenter
I’ve moved before. While in college I moved a bunch of times. First into freshmen dorms, then into a student apartment, then back home for a semester (whoopsie) then back to school in different townhouses until I graduated and moved in with my girlfriend (now wife).
After we married we moved into our townhouse where we’ve lived for the past 9 years. Before the townhouse the idea of moving was only a minor annoyance to me. It was something I’d have to spend the afternoon doing. When I moved in with my wife I didn’t bring any furniture. Nothing I owned was remotely close to being better than what she already had so I ended up either selling/donating/throwing away anything that couldn’t fit into the back of my Jeep Cherokee. It only took a couple of trips and I was moved in.
Moving into the townhouse was a little more difficult but nothing a few cases of beer, some pizzas and the generosity of family and friends couldn’t overcome. We rented a truck and spent the day moving back and forth until everything was in our new home.
Nine years and two kids later we are moving again and it is horrible. It is something I never want to experience again and we are no where near done. It’s so bad that I believe it should be mandatory that moving companies provide movers that have backgrounds in mediation, marriage counseling, and/or have worked either as a therapist or a grief counselor.
In the world of train wreck television I’m surprised there hasn’t been a reality TV show that films families trying to move. Then I remembered who wants to watch couples freak out on each other over the proper way to pack china? Or watch contractors awkwardly trying to paint as a husband and wife have the loudest silent fight in the other room. It’s the same reason why no one would watch a reality show about people getting root canals.
Since I am living this hell at the moment I thought I would give you my 5 Random Thoughts On Moving..
1. Moving is cruel
You ever have one of those really good bad ideas? Like, when you first think of it you think to yourself ”Wow, I’m onto something here.” then you give it another 10 seconds of thought and you’re like “Umm, wait no this is a terrible idea.” I had one of those while moving.
“They should make prisoners do this.”
This sounded like a good punishment at first. Then I start thinking about convicted criminals touching all my stuff and them knowing where I live and I went back to wrapping china quietly.
I don’t really know what the Geneva Convention is except that movies reference it anytime any sort of torture is about to take place. If I do ever read it there better be a section about not forcing prisoners of war to move people in and out of houses. That’s how strongly I feel about moving. It’s torture. Probably because I’ve never been water boarded but if you gave me the option of being water boarded or packing up one more ceramic figure I’d tie myself to the back of the boat (water boarding is being dragged from the back of a speedboat or something right?)
Moving should be an option when sentencing someone to prison. “Your honor for the crime of blowing up a school bus of blind orphans the state will be foregoing the death penalty and life without the possibility of parole. Instead we intend to seek 20 years of moving families of four into multilevel townhouses.”
2. My kids are confused
My kids have no idea what’s going on. The whole concept of leaving our home forever and moving into a new place doesn’t even comprehend in their tiny brains. I tried to explain it to my 4 year old (which was a huge mistake) that we would be leaving this place and moving into a new place. Since then he’s been peppering me with question after question about why are we leaving. Why are we selling our house? Who is buying our house? When will we be able to visit our house? After the people who buy our house move in when will we be able to move back into our house?
These questions break my heart. I can understand his anxiety about leaving. It’s the only place he’s known. It’s where he keeps all his stuff. It’s where he eats his breakfast and where he takes walks with his Oba to the park. How could he possibly be able to continue these activities in another place? It all sounds impossible.
3. My kid’s stuff is for sale
Speaking of stuff, my kids have too much of it. When faced with such an overflow of clothes, toys and accessories we did what any normal parents would do. We started selling their shit.
This was our first yard sale since having our kids and we learned one important lessen. When you’re having a yard sale to get rid of your kid’s stuff be sure to get rid of your kids for the day first. We didn’t do this. Maybe we thought they wouldn’t care if we sold a bunch of toys that they haven’t touched in over a year. Maybe we thought that they had outgrown these toys that were meant for infants and toddlers. Maybe we subconsciously wanted to torture them as payback for not allowing us to take a poop in peace in over four years. It’s difficult to say.
My four-year old woke up the morning of the yard sale and saw us wheeling and dealing outside. The day just started for him but it was prime yard sale time as neighbors and strangers wandered into the driveway. At first he was excited by the action he was witnessing outside. That was until he saw the “Kid Area” set up near the edge of the driveway. The area was only a folding table with some boxes on the ground. On the table and inside the boxes were familiar items to my four year old. They looked like the same colorful and noisy toys he hadn’t seen in a long time. But that couldn’t be right. Those toys were down in the basement or in his bedroom closet. As he watched these strangers inspect these toys a panic began to sink in. That was his stuff.
I never actually saw my four year old. I only felt the WHOOSH as the garage door flung open followed by what I can only guess was a sonic boom as a blur in Thomas the Train pajamas jetted past me. It sped around the driveway like a supersonic pinball. The only sound that could be heard was a steady but desperate “Nnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooo!” The blur pinged and ricocheted across the asphalt until he found the “Kid Area”. There the blur paused for a moment. It was fraction of a second but long enough for it to survey the area. The blur scooped up a toy and darted to the end of the driveway then it cut to the left and headed down the street.
As I watched my barefoot four year old sprint down the sidewalk clutching a plastic blue elephant all I could think about was “Boy, I’m a terrible parent.”
The stress involved in moving is something that cannot be explained. It must be experienced. Much like many of the joys of parenting it’s impossible to accurately describe to someone who has never gone through the pains of what it is like to move a family of four. The stress affects everyone. You find yourself having explosive fights with your spouse over the stupidest of things.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ATE THE LAST STICK OF GUM?! YOU DIDN’T THINK TO OFFER ME HALF?! OF COURSE NOT! THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE AN INSENSITIVE ASSHOLE WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY PACK CHINA!”
My wife and I aren’t the only ones feeling the stress. Our kids might not realize it but the stress of the move is affecting them as well. My boys have always been wild. They, much like most kids their age, do better with a routine. When that routine is interrupted chaos is unleashed. Suddenly, my four year old graduated to the next level “wild” and has begun to resemble something from Mad Max 2. He’s yelling a lot more and sprinting from room to room demonstrating his karate moves. He’s self-taught in a style that I’ve dubbed “Tweaking Spider Monkey”. A couple of days ago I caught him banging a plastic cup on the counter-top. I asked him what he was doing and he looked up at me with a puzzled look. He thought about is for a moment then stated “I have no idea.”
The only one that doesn’t seem affected by the move is the dog. I think she’s just happy to know that even after having to replace the carpets she’s still coming with us.
5. House has never looked better…for someone else
The best your house will ever look is the day it goes on the market. This is one of those cruel things about selling a house that no one tells you about. All those little things you’ve been meaning to fix around the house suddenly get fixed. Those areas of the house that you’ve been meaning to replace get replaced. That annoying part of your house that you hate but live with because you never had the time or money to do anything you finally do something about it. Piece by piece you transform your house into the house you always wanted but never had the time/money/inclination to do anything.
Then there are the surprises. Did you know your ice maker is broken? SURPRISE! Did you know you need to replace these windows? SURPRISE! Did you know you’re going to learn how to lay down sod? SURPRISE!
When we first started to see the changes being made to our house my wife and I were sad that it took selling the house for us to fix it up the way we always wanted it. Fast forward a couple of weeks of repairs, painters, contractors, new vanities, landscaping and even though the house looks better than ever we are ready to move on. We’re just like Gwyneth Paltrow and that Coldplay guy. My wife and I are having our own “Conscious Uncoupling” only not with each other but our house.
We still love our house. And we will always have fond memories with the house. No one is at fault. It’s as simple as two people and a house that want what’s best of each other. It’s time for both of us to see other people.
It’s not you house. It’s us.
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Mr. Fenske is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Richmond VA. The site is an extension of his efforts in the classroom, except for the cartoons, which seem to grow out of some disaffection he feels with the world. Thank you for visiting. © Mark Fenske
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