It takes a lot to move house. Over the past few weeks I have also found that it takes a lot to move ON from a house as well.
And there is a completely valid reason behind this theory. Have you ever read the statistic that says that moving is the third most stressful event you can endure, following death and divorce? Wow. Clearly for it to rank so high the stress cannot possibly be solely due to the practical aspects; it doesn’t equate that packing up one house and moving to another location would trigger this level of emotional response. But in the worldview of approaching life transitions consciously, it makes perfect sense.
Transitions, by definition, are times of change, and nobody likes change. Human beings are creatures of habit, comfort and familiarity. We gravitate towards a life of predictable structure, take emotional refuge in keeping physical order in our homes and mental refuge in knowing that everything has its place. So what happens when you move in the space of a weekend? Organised chaos. Your physical nest turned upside down usually means your inner world tends to follow suit.
While it’s obviously important to attend to the practical elements of a move- after all, the boxes have to get packed, the trailers loaded and the splattering of cleaning products used, when you focus on just getting it done, you’ll distract yourself from the emotional stress for a while. When it becomes so final, and when you thought you had weeks left to worry about it all, when your life is packed inside boxes and sealed. That’s when you get yourself into a funk. Here I am… Post moving house funk.
In 2014 I decided it was time (thanks to a gentle nudge from friends and good timing) to move out my parent’s place. Thinking for myself, having responsibilities, living with the besties! So naturally it was a pretty big thing going out on my own for the next stage of young adult life and doing it right. It wasn’t a flat, it was a home. Our door was always open for friends, barbecues and a bed for the night. We all had full time jobs, had family group meals every night and lived with our honorary flat mate dog Pippa. We had a log fire. We wrestled one another to the ground, made each other cups of tea, and asked about our days. We would go around the table and say what our peaks and our pits of each day were, we had late night bourbon and 500 sessions and we would sit down for series recordings of The Bachelor, Geordie Shore, and House Rules.
The emotional memories are quite potent so it seems.
It turns out that packing your life up into boxes is not an easy feat. The life of a hoarder is never easy. A box full of tupperware, a leaning tower of footwear and clothes stuffed into bulging suitcases proved I underestimated the finer points of packing and unpacking.
But in that there was a liberation that came with the whole moving thing too- in casting off the stuff I didn’t need any more, if I ever really needed it in the first place. There’s great satisfaction in casting the cast-offs to charity, knowing that my ‘stuff’ will be of greater use and appreciation to others.
It was a great home and it was a great few years spent full of memories, laughter, tears, tantrums and chatter. And it got me thinking that a lot can be said for what actually makes a house a home.
Luther Vandross sums it up quite nicely in his song:
A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
Holding one another tight wasn’t really our thing, but you get the idea. A house is only really ever a home when the rooms are full, and the flatties are busy cooking, watching TV, making calls or DIYing around the place. The very walls of the house hold the memories.
So over the weekend, the house slowly started to empty and the rooms slowly started to just become rooms again. They echoed right throughout the place. The memories have been stored and packed away in a box as well and the keys will be given to someone else for the opportunity to make that house a home again.
Moving on is so damn hard, and sometimes you just need a moment to allow it to all sink in. It was a towering landmark in the hall of my years.
But then again, life is a strange comedian and it’ll always have some tricks up its sleeve.
So what do you do now?
Well you just pick yourself up, you shut the door, and you turn over the page to the next chapter.