Sunday, May 27, 2012

I really have a love-hate relationship with moving.  As exciting as it is to start a new chapter, it's also gut-wrenching to close one.  As much fun as looking forward to a new house is, leaving your current one is so sad.  Long days and late nights prepping for a move, watching the movers pack your stuff while your heart is in your throat, and arguing with them about how they are poorly packing your stuff all leads (God-willing) to a sense of victory on the other end when you are settling into your new home and finally putting the stuff away.

This is my first move as an Army wife, since we were reassigned to Fort Hood after Richard's previous assignment.  While I am having some deja vu about moving as a child, doing this as the mom/wife is SO much harder than doing this as a child.  Kids look to Mom and Dad as their comfort and stability.  So, while moving is still sad, they are taking with them their security.  Not so much with the grown ups.  My home is my comfort.  And this week, the packers tore that apart.  As I stood in the kitchen watching them pack my china, plates, cookware and watched them box up the Nursery, I kept telling myself to breathe.  That it would all make it in one piece.  That it was just stuff.  It didn't work.  But, it was worth a shot.

The next day, as they suddenly went from slow-as-molasses to speedy-gonzales (because they double-booked themselves for the week, of course), I watched in horror as they started shoving and pushing items in boxes that didn't fit.  Trying to convince them of this was next to impossible, and I truly felt a stroke coming on.  My cranium was preparing to launch.  The baby swing was being crushed, a giant concrete St. Francis was shoved down on top of collectible doll items.  I was trying to communicate with my husband via eye signals, which weren't going through because of poor signal strength.  By the time they left, I truly thought the day couldn't get more stressful.  I was wrong.

For several years, I had a plunger lying in the back most recess of my trunk.  I had put it there when I had moved out of my apartment the week of my wedding.  Since I could not reach it without crawling into the trunk and thereby damaging my pride, there is sat.  People would mock me.  Oh, yes.  But, my constant response was, "You never know when you might need a plunger."  I had no idea how right I would be.  Two weeks ago, after more teasing from my husband, I finally waited until our street was devoid of people and crawled in after my plunger. 

After the umpteenth argument with the movers about the aforementioned box, one of them asked if they could use our bathroom.  I had no problem with this.  She returned and they continued packing and we continued requesting boxes get repacked.  The box with the doll desk was never repacked. 

After they left that night, we realized that the mover had clogged the toilet.  We inspected boxes in the garage to see which one they could possibly have packed the plunger in.  There was no way to tell with their contents descriptions; they had marked Christmas Decorations "Totes and clothes."  Makes sense.  I was relieved immediately when I had a sudden thought: my plunger!  I turned to get the car keys...and then remembered.  It, too, was in a box somewhere.  Oh, if only everyone had listened.  So, out went the husband to buy a plunger...which we realized after he returned home and started plunging, was broken.  Naturally. 

The next morning, my parents brought their plunger...and to no avail, we plunged again.  By now, there was disgusting water all over the bathroom floor.  It was tracked into the hallway, and had successfully shut down total use of that bathroom.  Until my toddler somehow got in there, slipped and fell into the water.  Yes.  Ew. 

Finally the moving company sent out a plumber.  He fixed it within ten minutes.  And for five hours that day, I was mopping up foul water off my floor.  When I thought I was done, I stood up only to realize that it had seeped underneath the tiles.  I was so angry, and again felt a stroke coming on. After a few hours with a fan, the water seems to have dried. 

As we moved through this week of chaos, I survived.  The movers and packers, our life loaded onto a truck, arguments about boxes, a plumber.  Two HARD days of cleaning.  But, I survived.  My first move-out as an Army Wife is done.  We even have a funny story.  And, on a positive note, the pride that I lost climbing into the trunk of my Taurus to retrieve a plunger was restored when I was able to look at my husband and say, "See?  I told you: You never know when you are going to need a plunger."  If only more people appreciated my genius. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It's unreal to me. 

I look around this house, seeing everything in its place...and a few things not in their places.  Objects clearly illustrating people live here, have used those items in the recent past.  A stapler askew on the desk.  The chairs half pushed back into the table.  Dishes drying in the sink.  To try and envision this house any other way is difficult.  To view it empty, packed up, is unreal. 

But, it's going to happen.  In three short weeks, packers will descend upon my home and un-home it.  The memories from my childhood of houses stripped of their personality will come flooding back as I hear the familiar sounds of tape being ripped off rolls and the smell of cardboard and paint fills my little house.  They  will strip the identity from it.  Yet, memories will still pour forth from the walls; memories only I can see. 

Like driving up to his home for the first time.  I remember thinking it was so small and quaint.  Inviting.  I walked in, still with that new nervousness when around him.  I complimented him on how well appointed his home was.  "Thanks.  My mom helped me."  Was his innocent and sweet response.  Weeks later, he gave me my first kiss in this living room.  We planned our wedding here, during evenings spent over binders, books, and brochures.  He carried me over the threshold of this home the night of our Wedding, and we never looked back.  We've brought two children home here, suffered a great loss, and survived a deployment.  In this house.  There are sweet little memories, like watching our daughters learn to crawl or running around the backyard on summer evenings, decorating our Christmas Tree.  And funny anecdotes, like the time I spent the night here because I was locked out of my parents' house while they were out of town.  It was our third date.  I slept in the guest room, with the door locked...just in case. 

Aspects of this home that seem standard to some, hold great memories for us.  The fireplace.  Our favorite thing has been a roaring fire in the winter, curled up on the couch just relaxing.  The first fire I built while he was deployed was both a great victory and a stinging reminder of his absence.  The room in the back of the house, with the chair rail, it started off as a weight room for a bachelor; it was transformed into a quiet sanctuary for our honeymoon baby.  Dancing in the living room to music with my girls, cooking meals for my little family in the kitchen, walking around the house wondering if it was "time" while counting contractions.  It's all here.  The memories.  The life.  And I must leave it all behind.

I have lived this way my whole life.  I know nothing else.  That is a great comfort at times.  I consider myself greatly experienced when it comes to military life, especially after being "in it" for 28 years.  Despite that, the pain is not lessened; the sense of loss no less keen in these situations.  Packing up.  Moving on.  Again.  And again.  Leaving houses that have become homes and then painfully became houses again.  Good-byes to friends you've made, especially those you've laughed and cried with.  Turning from family and walking away.  Leaving behind parents, sisters.  It hurts.

Yes, a great chapter is before us.  Full of exciting new adventures.  Yes, we will make a new home, make new friends.  Have babies in different homes.  There is much good awaiting us, too.

But those adventures do not replace the old ones.  The new friends will not take the place of those we leave behind.  No house will ever come close to the home that this place has been.

My tiny home.  My little living room that I can walk across in a few short steps.  The one that has been covered with baby toys, walkers, play pens.  That precious room that has housed my sleeping newborns.  The kitchen that has been danced in, cooked in.  My home, that has been slept in, celebrated in, laughed in, cried in.  Lived in.

In a few short weeks, I will watch them pack up my little home.  I will clean it one last time, paint it one last time.  I will look around one last time.  Walk the rooms.  Stop.  Remember one last time.  Then, I will walk out.  Shut the door.  One last time.  And move on.  To the next adventure.