I feel like there’s a more sophisticated way to say this, but:
The last month of living someplace is WEIRD.
Two opposite things are happening at once: 1) You want to be fully present right where you are so you can soak it all up before you leave, and 2) You are mentally detaching and not-really-living-here-anymore.
The Bucket List.
One of the “sermons” I preach to my kids (and myself) about moving all the time is:
Every place has experiences and opportunities that are different from anywhere else. We need to find those things and take advantage of them!
The Countdown Bucket List is the last fling of this mindset, an attempt to make sure we really live here for the final stretch. In the six months or so before we move, we make a list of the Things We Haven’t Done Yet, and Things We Love And Want To Be Sure To Do Again. Usually we write it down and hang it on the refrigerator! It typically includes things like:
- Favorite restaurants/food
- Local cultural opportunities (museums, historical sites)
- Outdoor activities
- Once-in-a-lifetime experiences
Before we moved from San Antonio, we made sure to get back to one of our favorite restaurants, Mi Tierra, for breakfast. Before we left Beaufort, SC, we had the opportunity to go with a turtle team on Fripp Island to see baby loggerheads make their way to the ocean.
Not every Bucket List item is this exciting! 🐢
There’s no way to do it all, or to be certain we won’t look back and kick ourselves for missing something, but the List helps us to prioritize the most important things.
This year, Covid is making the Last Month weirdness even weirder by eliminating our Bucket List of activities and keeping us home. Our List is simpler: We’re enjoying the nearby farmstand and the local ice-cream shop. My teenager is taking a few more guitar lessons with the teacher who has helped him grow so much. I’m establishing my running habit around the nice, flat loop of our neighborhood before we move to a house at the top of a hill. The Bucket List isn’t always about big things. Sometimes it’s just about the sermon: taking full advantage of this place.
For the first time in 20 years, we are packing ourselves to move. Rather than the pros coming and wrapping everything just before it goes on the truck, we’re doing it already. We (ok, mostly my husband) are gradually filling cardboard boxes with our family’s life. Every time I leave the house, I return to more bare walls and empty shelves. It’s a slow peeling-off of the Band-Aid.
Maybe it’s different for everybody, but when the wallhangings come down I feel like I don’t live here anymore. (It works on the other side as well: I feel at home in a new house as soon as pictures are on the walls.)
Most of the time that doesn’t happen until the final week, when Band-Aid Removal is more of a quick rip. This time I’m learning to live in slow detachment. Very slow: this detachment began with the coming of coronavirus in March, when church gatherings and school days were cancelled. That was a Band-Aid ripoff, for sure, but since then we’ve ALL been living in the slow in-between.
Covid, and moving on?
Covid and moving are amplifying each other these days. Everyone is dealing with detachment. We all moved on from pre-Covid life without having a chance to do our Bucket List items one last time. And now we don’t know exactly where we’re going, what kind of life we’re moving into.
Have you noticed the donations drop-offs at your local thrift stores? Ours are loaded; it seems we’re not the only ones getting ready to move on, stripping bookshelves and clearing cabinets of the things we don’t want to take with us… wherever we’re going.
Maybe the lesson here, the reality-check, is that no matter how settled we feel, how secure in our connections and embedded in our communities–we are always living in-between. Whether or not we’re physically, geographically moving, we have to balance living fully here (wherever here happens to be) and readying ourselves for whatever is next.
Between Bucket Lists and Band-Aids.