I was standing, idly looking out the front window when I saw the moving van creep slowly up the street. I didn’t have to guess where it was going. The house behind me had recently sold, and I was sure the material world of our new neighbors was contained in that trailer.
We have moved eleven times over the last fifty years, some local, some long distance, so I had a great degree of empathy for my new neighbors. It is never easy, physically or psychologically to move. For several days before the actual departure, your house becomes the domain of a team of packers. You watch entire rooms being dismantled and stuffed in boxes, and although they are skilled at packing, they are in fact compensated for speed. The personal quickly becomes impersonal. We have had a bud vase with bud and water intact, wrapped and packed in a box. Also a dirty ashtray with the butts included.
Then the day arrives when the large empty van pulls up to the house, and several total strangers move throughout your house, emptying the rooms. Boxes are wheeled, carried, slid, and shoved into spaces assuring a tight load. Pieces of your life are strewn across the front lawn. You worry that something will get broken, and it will. You hope nothing gets left behind, so, for the eighteenth time, you recheck all the closets, cabinets, and drawers. Slowly, throughout the day, your life is sucked into the cavernous void of the truck until, at last, the doors are closed and a lifetime of belongings disappear into the distance.
That’s when the quiet sets in and for the last time, you wander through the empty rooms, turning off lights, your footsteps echoing on the wooden floors. And that is the moment when what was your home becomes just a house. You lock the front door and walk away, looking back at the shell of what was, seeing only the memories.
I always experienced a sense of loss. Life as I knew it was gone and until we neared our destination, the new house, I missed having the comfort of the familiar. Yesterday was past and tomorrow was still ahead. Today, we were in limbo. It wasn’t until we actually arrived that a new sense, a sense of excitement set in. And when we unlocked the door for the first time, and our footsteps echoed again on wooden floors, that is when my heart gladdened and I began to look forward to what was to come.
And I would stand idly looking out the front window, waiting for the moving van to creep slowly up the street.
From the archives March 2013