On moving

Thirteen or so months ago, we loaded up our lives into rice bags and hauled them 20 stories down, across the street, and 10 stories up into the apartment complex across the street. We weren’t thrilled about moving–our landlord kicked us out because he wanted the apartment for himself–but thought we’d ended with a good deal in our new home. A newer place; bigger; only marginally more expensive; and (maybe best of all) a landlord who was just keeping the apartment as an investment; a place we could settle and STAY.

The idea of staying was attractive because I’ve logged up the moves since starting college at 18. Here are the stats for the last 12 years.

Times I’ve moved continents: three

Times I’ve moved an hour or more (essentially to a new city, although one of the in-Asia moves was to a different part of the massive city where we live): six

Times I’ve moved apartments: 11

(Is it clear that this is a total of 11 moves? Not a total of 20. Just if you were keeping score. I sure am.)

But last spring, as far as we could see, there were no more moves on the foreseeable horizon.

Turns out, we couldn’t see that far.

Because here we are again, one scant year later, getting ready to pack it all up and move it all on. I won’t get into it here, but due to an unforeseen turn of events, we are headed back to America next year. It’s taken a bit of time for this fact to sink in, but now that it has, I feel: sad. uncertain. apathetic? thankful (that Stella will get to see her grandparents in real life, not just on Skype). overwhelmed. But mostly, I feel tired.

This life we live is crazy from any normal point of view. Who in their right mind would change countries as seemingly cavalierly as others change–I don’t know–their gym? Well, here we are, guilty as charged. (Although of course I must insist that these changes are not at all unconsidered or off-hand.)

It’s true, this ain’t normal. And while anyone who makes the life choices that we have made is obviously a little bit off somewhere up there, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. The constant transition frays, sometimes more than just a bit, at the edges of my weary soul. People come, people go, it’s a fight to care. To know when relationships are worth fighting for, and when to just let them fade. To manage the details of packing up a life, of making plans for a new and temporary home, of planting and uprooting and re-planting.

No answers here, just questions. And this thought, from Abraham Verghese’s book Cutting for Stone:

“Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?”

Old as this song and dance can become, this is truth. We have so many homes, so many places where we are wanted. Come or go, stay or leave, I’m grateful for that.

 

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Sorry your life is so unsettled, StellaB.

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But I think, hope, that it’s rich in some ways that a “normal” life isn’t.

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It’s a trade-off, for sure.

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Just know this: wherever we land, one of your many, many “homes” is ecstatic to receive you.

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Frozen in Time

A moment. This morning. Albus sits at my feet, calm (worn and wearied is perhaps more accurate) from an hour of frenzied tussling with the rug and a water bottle. Outside, I see workers below me, building a veranda on a nearby rooftop. The sound of hammering is persistent, the low thud of background noise. It’s cloudy, hazy, cool in the way peculiar to thick and humid days.

I linger over my coffee, trying to discern what is inside my heart. Truth be told, I’m not sure. We head home (what a loaded term that one is for us!) in 10 days, back to our mamas and doctor appointments and siblings and the brightly fierce sunshine of the South. I’m ready. My list of things to wrap up here is long, still. Good-byes to friends who, when school lets out in July, will be scattered across the globe. A party to celebrate the soon-arrival of two sweet babies. Presents for family. Next year’s rent to be paid and visas to be handled and plans for the fall to be set. Worries about our tickets and stress over my own forgetful hastiness in myriad tiny details and one last week of walks and cuddles with the pupster. (We can’t bring him home, but no worries, he’ll be waiting for us the moment we get back.)

Trying, in the midst of that, to just be here for a few more days. To stop, to feel the breeze, to be and not just to do. To remember Who my fortress is, and to rest there. To quiet my soul like a weaned child, to quell the anxious thoughts that rise up in my soul over the most quibbling of matters. Striving, this morning, to go out and accomplish what must be done with a heart that is still.

To let this day be simple and joyous.

“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery