Musings on moving

I hate moving. Even the smoothest move that would not involve any planning or physical exertion on my part would probably be just as difficult as one that makes those demands. I trace this aversion to my first moving experience from my hometown at sixteen. I had never lived elsewhere and the move was precipitated by circumstances that involved a fair amount of vocal family melodrama and years of suppressed resentments spilling forth; unpleasant, to say the least.After that, I moved thrice within the country of my birth, then once to come to the United States, and thrice more in the same city in the Midwest. I cannot say I have grown any more tolerant of the process. I have come to believe that every new move triggers old memories of dislocation and powerlessness, of worrying about my parents’ health, of being annoyed at everything that is unfamiliar.

I have friends who do not feel this way about moving. One of them enjoys the upheaval greatly, especially when it comes to reconfiguring a new space. I do not. I like old spaces. I like relying on muscle memory to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, to pick up the toothpaste from the medicine cabinet when I’m half asleep, to reach for the can opener in the utility drawer while I’m stirring something on the stove. I like biking the same route on the weekend, going to the same restaurants with the same friends and being gently harassed by the same servers, walking the same path to the grocery store.

I have spent much of the last few weeks erasing some of these paths. Returning the keys to various places to which I had been allowed entrée has been particularly momentous: three to my graduate school department (from which I graduated years ago), one to an office at my current workplace, and so forth. I will turn in the final work key next week on my last day, and my apartment keys in a few weeks. The key ring feels lighter already and yet the missing keys are like phantom limbs, with their remembrances of things past.

One might think my dislike of moving somewhat odd since I’m always traveling and I particularly love hotel rooms, with their bland anonymity. Yet traveling is pleasurable partly because it is bookended by home and because its hassles have their own charm. Nor does it involve closing bank accounts, turning off utilities, unplugging all your automatic bill payment servicesall done with the knowledge that this is the first half of the process; opening new accounts, turning on utilities in the new place, setting up new bill payment systemsnone of this has the romance of travel.

In addition, I’m still waiting to hear about the Jackson Heights apartment (I kid you not). Since biting my nails is not productive, I’ve spent this time sorting through old tax returns and health records, selling some books to the used book store near campus (4 for $3 today), getting a check-up at the campus clinic, cleaning out my music from my work computer, and reading/returning some of the academic books that I’ve been renewing for the last five years.

Moreover, while I booked a Door to Door crate, I also decided to put a bunch of my worldly possessions on craigslist and see if I could just rid myself of everything that cannot be boxed and shipped. Right now, I’m at home waiting for a parade of people who want some of what I have bought/dragged off curbs/inherited from friends. Here goes nothing!

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