Thank goodness that is over.
We didn't pull it off without a hitch, but we did do it. With the help of movers, cleaners, and a generous set of parents and a good friend, we managed to get me out of the apartment, some things donated, and everything else into storage. There was no way I could have done all of that on my own. But even with all that help, there were plenty of times if I wondered if it would ever get done.
When I first moved to the Seattle area, I was moving for my job and therefore had the privilege of experiencing company-paid professional movers. Sharing a house with two roommates at the time, I didn't have a full household of goods, but I was still impressed that the two of them managed to pack up the goods of my entire life in about two hours and I never even lifted a finger. So needless to say, my expectations were high when these guys came in.
While the three movers were packing up various portions of my home and asking for directions, the donation truck I had solicited for a pick-up came, and they needed direction as well. I had them take the old TV, our bed, and the three boxes of books on the porch. In those ten or fifteen minutes, it was me and five strangers, all of whom were asking for where things were, or if they could use the bathroom. It was chaos.
It was only later that evening when everyone else was gone and the movers had been paid that I noticed the donation truck picked up something they shouldn't have. I had directed them to the porch for the three boxes of books. And there they were, three boxes of books stacked in their own corner of the porch. In an opposite corner, there was a plastic bin of our personal papers -- records we needed to keep. And they took those too. My phone call asking about them was never returned.
And then there was still plenty left in the apartment. There were things left that I wanted the time to sort through myself, to decide if I would need them with me or if they were better off being stored for a time. I stopped by a few days after work the following week, thinking I could do a little at a time. I did do a little each day I was there, but there was still a lot left, which (again, thanks to the help of a good friend) was finally completed this past Saturday, all amidst trips to the bathroom to deal with nausea.
Then I got sick: not the nauseated pregnancy kind, but the I-got-a-cold-that-knocked-me-flat kind -- the kind that has you calling in sick for two days.
It would be wrong to say I've done any of this alone. I didn't pack and move alone, and I didn't get everything into storage on my own. Thanks be to God, I had a lot of help. James found the movers. My parents and my friends made sure I wasn't the only one left to pack and tidy up. I recognize all of this.
But there is something very alone-feeling about it. James is far away and I'm here, wrapping things up and being the one who is getting ready to say goodbye. And it all came tumbling in after the chaos died down: This has been home for me. This is where my family is and this is where I grew up. I have memories here, places I can point to and say, This is where we took that picture, or Remember how hard we laughed at the pier? I'm saying goodbye to co-workers and friends, to my family. I'm saying goodbye to the place where Ewan is buried. I'm saying goodbye to the friends who brought us food, or who did our grocery shopping and our laundry when it was too much after he died.
I am confident and hopeful that a beautiful life is waiting for us in Florida -- a life which wasn't going to be possible for us here. I know in my head it's the right thing, and a full heart propels me forward. But that doesn't mean goodbye is easy. Goodbye is and is going to be painful. And so it comes back to that beautiful and terrible tension again: in the one hand, the sorrow and the ache of goodbye, and in the other, the joy and the hope of a new life. Shadows and light: I hold both.