Moving Monday: The Final Stretch

These are the countdown days.

Three more nights to sleep in this house.

Four days til the moving truck comes.

One week til we drive out of town.

This final stretch is the hardest for me. Even when I’m not really sad to move away, even when I’m anxious to get to the new place, this last week is emotional. It catches me off-guard—the smallest thing sets me off. I’m tired, my routine is off, my space is a mess, my brain is working overtime, my body is holding all kinds of stress, and the to-do list is still long and there’s no time left to procrastinate. It all adds up. Once we drive away, I will relax.

What counting down looks like.

Plan meals to eat as many groceries as possible. As of last night, our freezer is empty of meat. We’re out of sugar.

Make packing lists for the week we’ll be in hotels. Pack suitcases and start living out of them now.

Make separate packing lists for the first days in the new house: laundry detergent, sheets and towels, toilet paper, coffee. Pack in suitcases (if there’s room in the car) or a very clearly marked moving box.

Get rid of nearly-empty pantry items. Set aside some things for hotel eating (cereal, candy).

Get a haircut; have a final orthodontic check; meet on Zoom with the school counselor.

Arrange mail hold and forwarding address.

Make final donation run to Goodwill.

Reserve a rental truck to deliver furniture donations the auction people didn’t take. (In future, call thrift stores to arrange pickup much earlier.)

Buy more Advil because it got packed. Of course.

What counting down feels like.

This final stretch feels like holding my breath.

Not in a childhood-tantrum kind of way. But in a swimming underwater without a snorkel way.

Or maybe in the way I used to do during bad thunderstorms. I hated storms as a kid (and well into my teens). At some point I realized if I held my breath and tensed my entire body, the lightning and thunder couldn’t startle me. I still catch myself trying to manage stressful events this way, mentally and emotionally if not physically. (In retrospect I’m aware this isn’t the healthiest way to live.) And if I’m honest, there still is a bodily reaction, whether I mean to do it or not. Countless times in the past few weeks I’ve had to make myself lower my shoulders from my ears.

But I know the storm will end.

I know in a short time I’ll come up from swimming, break through the surface, and breath easily again. For now—-I just have to keep swimming.

What counting down does for us.

Counting down makes us ready to go.

The other night we were eating dinner and my younger son asked, very sincerely: “Why are we not moving now?”

The kids have handled this in-between time very well, but he’s ready to go. There are reasons we can’t go yet: the new house isn’t ready, and there are still things to do here. But his question is the one we’re all feeling, even though we know the answer.

In a way we started counting down in mid-March, when schools closed. My high schooler feels like he said goodbye to his friends and moved away months ago. In a normal year these last few days would be the gut-wrenchers; this year, they are somewhat of an anticlimax.

What about counting up?

As we count down these last few days, I’m ready to shift my energy into counting up. Instead of focusing everything on the final stretch, I want to look forward to what’s coming (and coming soon! time really does fly, even as it drags).

I’m counting up to a new space and a new routine.

I’m counting up to a new normal.

I can’t quite envision what it will look like when we break through the surface on the other side, but I’m counting up to being there, and finally breathing in.

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