Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moving

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a hell of a week.

If there’s anything closer to a mini-vacation to Hades than a MOVE, then I don’t know what it is.

(Of course I’m kidding. We’ve learned that there are many, many things worse. Some things are even worse than death.)

Let’s just say that it’s one of the worst elective tortures there is. But then I haven’t had a facelift or gotten adult braces. (Yet.) I have, however, lived through a kitchen remodeling.

Anyway, the day finally came when a family of our size could no longer pretend to be camping out in California in a tiny (but ridiculously expensive, by Georgia standards) 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment. With Katherine having an increasing number of medical appointments at UCLA, and a decreasing number of therapy days in Pomona per week, there were more frequent occasions when 4 or 5 of us would be crawling all over each other in our little “home-away-from-home.” The bedroom was so small that it was hard for two people to stand up in it at the same time...especially with a baby bed crammed in. And there are obstacles involved in sleeping (trying to sleep) in the same room as a 19-month-old. Hard to let him just cry himself back to sleep when he’s two feet away from your bed, staring at you with stricken, streaming, big, brown eyes...calling your name in a pitiful voice.

Plus, we wanted to make an even greater contribution to Southern California’s faltering economy. So we took the plunge, bit the bullet, and tightened the belt in order to move on up in the world... to a two-bedroom in the same building. Actually, we moved almost directly up, to the floor above.

It might as well have been China.

***************

At first, it was kind of fun. My son-in-law Jay is as efficient as I am inefficient. He found a cart somewhere in the building and, with my youngest daughter’s help, carted up a good deal of the furniture and larger items in no time flat. My middle daughter also happened to be moving the same weekend, so she loaned us two brawny men to help with the bed and sofa. Then everyone else went back to work and therapy. I thought I’d finish up in the next day or so, no prob. Management had graciously given me a week in which to complete the transition.

By the third day of “finishing up the move” alone, I was ready to jump off the balcony on the fifth floor.

I’d started out in an organized manner, filling up the maintenance man’s cart with nicely packed dishes and such. I hummed happy hymns as I pushed the heavy cart around tight corners and down long halls to the elevator, went up a floor, and did it again. I took the time to arrange items in their new home upstairs, a jigsaw-puzzle type of endeavor because of a reduction in kitchen storage space. (There’s always a trade-off.) I even hung a couple of pictures on the wall and threw the throw pillows around to make things homey right off the bat.

At the end, I was emptying bathroom drawers into grocery bags, throwing them on the cart with toilet plungers, old cocktail sauce, and piles of clothes, and careening down the halls knocking chunks out of the walls. Neighbors stared at me as I did lap after lap of the Death March, ThermaCare patch stuck on my neck, and wild, greasy hair piled on top of my head like Cyndi Lauper on a Bad Hair Day. Instead of praise music, I alternated humming the monkey dirge from The Wizard of Oz and The Volga Boatman’s Song.

It’s incredible what an amazing accumulation of clutter occurred in less than a year. The junk had multiplied like mold. Every cabinet, drawer, and closet was crammed full of fresh nightmares to be dealt with. The inner child of Depression-Era parents battled the modern woman with tree-hugger sensibilities, while the voice of Reason argued against both of them. (Should I cart this crusty condiment upstairs? It’s been moved from Malibu to Jay’s apartment to ours. Should I grant it space one more time? It’s still half full, the voice of the parents intones. I should take the time to empty it out and wash the bottle and take it to the recycling center, the tree-hugger piously suggests. Just trash it, you’re in a hurry, the voice of practicality yells in frustration.)

Getting to the bottom of the mound in the corner of the cramped closet was like an archeological dig. Oh, here are the puppets that were used in a 2-minute puppet show at James’ first birthday party after most of the guests had already left. A Victoria’s Secret bag with a bra that didn’t fit last May, receipt and all. Gifts for nurses never delivered. Gadgets loaned to us to make life more convenient.

And, everywhere, PAPERS. “Too many paypuhs,” as we say in our family, quoting our kindergartner who suddenly refused to go to school one day. (“But you LOVE school,” we coaxed as she clung to the doorframe. She sobbed even harder. “Not any more. Now there’s TOO MANY PAYPUHS!!!”) We all sympathize. It’s a family problem. Medical information, sweet cards from well-wishers, take-out menus from walking-distance restaurants, old receipts, bills, bills, and bills. How can I throw any of this stuff out??? I need to go through it first! (Yes, and when will that day come, Kim?)

CD’s never listened to, books never read, clothes with the tags still on....all ended up being hauled.

Then I had to put my big girl pants on and deal with the gory details...getting things like gas, electric, water, cable , and internet switched over. Endless minutes listening to Muzak on speaker phone, pushing button after button after button....only to finally reach a human being whose English you can’t understand. Visits from an international assembly of men-in-a-big-hurry-to-get-to-the-next-job. (Wait, why do I have to have another remote control? We didn’t need it downstairs! Did I just sign up for something new? How much is this gonna cost???)

Speaking of downstairs...with the mess gone, I noticed all the things that needed fixing if we wanted our security deposit back. So I went nuts patching up nail holes, painting, cleaning like a madwoman. I realized that I’d become completely unhinged when I tried to restore the hair bleach spots on the carpet with Rit dye and a paintbrush minutes before we had to finish evacuating. Definitely over the edge. By this point, my husband had arrived from Georgia, so at least he made me laugh about it. We turned in our old keys and went out for a beer to celebrate.

But back upstairs, everything seemed lost, broken, and out of control. We soon discovered stuff that needs fixing in the new apartment. Our youngest child dumped all the contents of her dorm room in on us before heading to Pomona; our middle child sent us the overflow from her old apartment. I couldn’t find anything because of the lack of sorting at the end. Unrelated items were dumped in bags together. (Face wash with toilet bowl cleaner.) Then, I suddenly realized I’d lost my wedding ring and my other favorite ring. I had a flashback to a time during the move when there was an opportunity for someone to help them go missing. I was convinced I’d never see them again. Within 4 days, I had mentally let them go.

By the end of the week, stress had escalated to the Danger Zone. I finally got my computer back, just to discover that something new is wrong with it. Several other unpleasant situations arose. The last straw was when I tried to email myself a blog I’d tried to write on various borrowed computers, only to find that the last (almost finished) version had been lost.

I drug myself back out to Pomona for nanny duty feeling completely defeated, frustrated, and comatose-tired.

My eternally optimistic (Thank God!!!) child Katherine didn’t understand why I wasn’t my usual jolly self. We got in a snit. (No, we’re not perfect. We still fight.)

Feeling like a victim, I went to the kitchen and started washing the first of an endless stream of dishes. (No dishwasher in the rental house.) I stared out the window at the fire station across the street, fighting back tears of self-pity. I decided it was time to pray.

“What am I supposed to learn from this?”

This is the gist of what came to me:

Life is like one of those human conveyor belt things in the Atlanta airport. There’s really no such thing as standing still. Even with your feet firmly planted on what you assume to be terra firma, you are constantly moving towards another destination.

Sometimes it’s the wrong destination. Not the one I’ve chosen for you. During those times, I may ask you to pack up your little red wagon and move. It may feel like running up the down escalator with a sleeper sofa on your back....competing in the New York marathon while toting a queen-size bed.

And sometimes you’re the one that wants to move. Remember, you were just complaining about the desert. There’s only one way out. It is not an easy way. The path is narrow.

A move is painful, messy, inconvenient, and exhausting. There is chaos and confusion. Things always get broken and misplaced. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable. Letting go of the familiar is frightening.

It may mean losing things you love...leaving even very precious things behind.

But it will be worth it in the end.

I will help you. I’ll even tell you what to pack.

And when you just can’t make the trip one more time, I’ll carry you and your little red wagon, too.

***************

My reverie was interrupted by loud laughter exploding from the den. I heard my middle child whoop, my husband teasing James. The little rental house across from the fire station suddenly felt like home.

Our family’s love is a moveable feast.

****************

“One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there...
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others...All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed...” (Gen. 11:31-12:4, nlt)


**************

(p.s. since writing this, both the rings and the blog have been recovered. God is so good.)

15 comments:

Laurel said...

I am always fooled by thinking that things are moving along quickly when the big pieces are in their new destination. That is the easy part, though. Moving furniture never takes more than a day. It is the PILES and PILES of crapola that takes forever because you can never completely quell the urge to sort it while you pack.

Every time I swear I won't end up throwing entire drawers into plastic grocery bags. And every time I do.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Wow....I totally relate...

Just blog hopping today and enjoyed reading your blog...

I am posting on our Disney trip so hope you will stop by.

Happy Sunday!

Julia said...

had to skip to the end to find out about the rings - I love a happy ending!

Janie and Bryan said...

Moving is like turning your skin inside out.....painful and you have no idea what you're looking at! So glad it's behind you and you guys can all settle in to a new place. Also, finding those rings reminds me again..God cares about even the smallest of "things" ..especially when they're so priceless to us. Hang in there...ya'll are getting closer to the finish line every day.

Kim Godawa said...

This entry made me chuckle all the way through! You paint such vivid pictures with your words - and the picture of the baby in the opening is hilarious.

I am humbled by your words and encouraged by God's goodness expressed in your lives. Thanks again for "bearing all".
Kim

Peggy Dabbs said...

Kim, you are the real deal! I love to read your blogs.

Regardless of how much planning that we do before we move, it always ends up the same way- a big wreck, and we look the same way!

The opening picture of James was hilarious! He is precious.

ellenpaige said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ellenpaige said...

Another beautiful, touching post.
I continue to pray for Katherine's complete recovery every day.
God bless and bless all of you always.

Ellen Jones
Athens, Georgia

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing, Kim. I laughed so hard because I can totally relate to your moving experience. Your message also touched me.

Continued prayers for Katherine and your whole family. Take care.

suzi rocketteu said...

YEAH YOUR BACK...well sort of if you can find your way out of all the stuff...need a hand? I am willing to come help.Though I need a rest first...just reading all you went through made me tired. Bless you and the way you express yourself and remind us of what really matters.So glad you found your rings.
Much prayer and love

Karen said...

That is the best picture ever! My heart goes out to you. I wish we were all there to help. You know, all the strangers in other states that read this blog...
I would have come.
I shall pray instead.

asheleyjones said...

Thank you! My husband and I and our 17 month old are moving for the 6th time in Three years...I feel your pain. I so needed to hear what you had to say. Hope everything is getting a bit better. Blessings,
Asheley York

plilr said...

I have been wanting to read this for days, but I have had thing after endless thing that has made it literally impossible to get to till now. You have no idea how timely this message is to me. Certainly some lessons to apply to my own life and situation. Funny how things work out that way.

I hope that you are on the road to getting things organized! If you need some help, I'll offer my services!!

xx, Desiree

Kristi said...

In moments of despair...remember...God has chosen your family to take this road to teach countless others of His strength, endless love and ability to pull people through tough times. He thinks the world of all of you. What better person to believe in your family than Him.
Your postings are a lesson to me and always humble me.Thank you.

motherto4 said...

God IS so good! May He continue to bless and guide the Arnold and Wolf families.