3/4: Breaking the Chrysalis

It’s time to leave the house I’ve lived in for six years.

Moving, I’ve often thought, should have been one of the ten plagues of Egypt. It’s torture for the clutter-addled like myself, and I heartily recommend that, if you share the affliction, you never live in a house. A house with a basement tempts you to store all sorts of things that you simply wouldn’t have space for in an apartment. And a garage? Katie, bar the door. (I always wanted to say that. It’s so weird.)

There are three choices when moving:
1. throw everything in a box and cart it to the new place, regardless of whether it’s valuable or not, planning to “deal” with it at some point;
2. evaluate each item carefully, then put it in the appropriate pile (i.e., “toss,” “donate,” or “keep”);
3. become ruthless, and take the chance that you are not likely to need it again, because, after all, it’s been sitting forgotten in a corner since the last time you went through this process.

Option 3, please. All those “just in case” items suddenly don’t matter. I understand now why those shows like Clean Sweep force people to take everything out of their homes and start from scratch. When you start empty, you want to keep it sorta like that.

But there are pleasures, and even small victories. One CD in particular has eluded me, and isn’t available via any of the usual channels. I practically yelled “Eureka!” when I found it (though I didn’t, Archimedes-like, run nude through the streets. It’s 19 degrees out there.) More importantly, I found a picture of my ex and me, happy, relaxed, still in love; I saw for the first time in years the man I wanted to spend my life with, the one with such brio. Together, I thought we’d be able to move mountains. Small things add up to remind me that our relationship wasn’t always the way it ended, and as confusing as it often feels now.

I had tremendous hopes for the house itself, and I know that the new owner will be able to unleash its fine potential. But I have so many memories of tears, many more than of being happy. There’s an emotional patina that’s can’t be removed, at least by me, and its dominant shade is melancholy. It became clear over a year ago that this house is my dream house. But those dreams are of the broken, not the happy, variety.

Now is the time to be happy.

And for my son, who is the only reason I’ve stayed here as long as I have, I realized early that he would take his cues from me. If I whine and cry about how hard the move is and how beleagured I feel, he’ll feel sad and anxious. But there is only good to come. He’s long expressed his fascination with apartments, and I’ve missed living in a more confined space. I’m simply not cut out for the maintenance that goes into a house and a yard. I’m going back to my true nature as a city person, and he’ll be able to learn the joy of living in a manageable space. Looking at his new room, I could see a creative spark kindle in his eyes.

The other night, I suddenly laughed out loud, startled by a thought. My house is to me what my father’s body was to him. It had functioned all right in its time, but now it’s simply a shell. As he did, I struggle to shed a skin that has served its purpose, but that I now must leave behind if I truly want to soar.

I’m ready. So’s the kid. The sun is shining, and it looks to be a beautiful day. Finally, we’re getting ready to go home.

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