I’ve moved a lot since I graduated from Grade Twelve. At least twenty times. I downsized every time! I gave away things. I gave up things. I sold things. I lost things. I don’t miss most of those things.
I gained as much as I lost!
There are two things I miss.
Words. I miss words.
Words that I wrote.
The first is a short story I wrote when I was sixteen; there was an unicorn and a black rose in it. For years after, I searched out information on black roses. (This was before the internet). Were they possible? Could you grow pure black roses? This was a topic I researched from 1975 until the 1990s and I still don’t know the answer. I know you can create black roses by dying them. I know that there are red and deep purple roses that will look black in certain types of light. But to grow a genetically perfect black rose; still impossible I fear.
But back to the story. I sent it into Seventeen magazine. I got back a form rejection slip with a very encouraging note written on it in someone’s handwriting. I’ve lost the note as well. I remember thinking “Now, I am a writer!”
The second of my words that I lost was a romance novel.
I wrote it as an experiment. I wanted to see if I could write 50,000 to 70,00 words. This was the length of a Harlequin romance novel back then.
My first draft. My only draft. I write shorter now: blog posts, essays, memoirs. I’ve not attempted anything longer. Maybe I will. Maybe this November. It was a typical 1980s romance. It was probably staid and priggish. My friend Twyla liked. She was the only one who read it. I did nothing with it.
Though, it might be in my hope chest. So might the short story.
I’ve moved the hope chest here, there and everywhere but I seldom explore deep in its depths. There are bombs in there – my wedding pictures, my parent’s after-divorce letters and other such emotional flotsam and jetsam!
I try to stay away from bombs even though there might be treasures also strewn within the minefield!
Thus, these things I’ve left behind may never be found!
I was born in 1949, and by the time I was 10, I figured out that my hope chest was not aimed in the same direction as everybody else’s was. And that life was going to be very, very complicated. And that I could either be provocative and declamatory, or shy, retiring and scared. ~Dorothy Allison
What is tangible? It is something physical; something that can be touched. Not just seen in the mind’s eye but something actually there. I can see a memory but I cannot always touch it.
Physical objects are tangible.
I spent the last month helping my mother move and discarding physical objects that were important to her but not to me. A plastic rose from my paternal grandfather’s grave was to me just a dusty, plastic annoyance. I tossed it.
All this moving has stirred up a lot of memories. I’ve moved a lot in my life. The last time my mother moved was thirty years ago and her last three house moves have all occurred in the same small town. Her roots there are deep and even though she has only moved one town down the highway it has been a trying move for her.
My roots are not deep. I have transplanted my self many times into many different types of soul. (See my Place I’ve Lived series). In the thirty years since I graduated from High School, I’ve moved at least twenty times. I plan to write about everywhere I’ve ever lived, if not in this blog then in a book. Moving so much has taught me to only hold on to the most practical and useful items. I don’t hold on to items for purely sentimental reasons. Though on occasion I did send them to my mother – one of the things discarded in her recent move was the stuffed unicorn my ex-husband won for me.
My mother had a lot of stuff. I would tease her about being a hoarder even though really she was not. She is of the generation that saves things for a rainy day as you never know what and how something can be re-purposed.
I am not sentimental but as I get older I wish for tangible items that would link me with my ancestors.
What I have I have mostly from my mother’s parents. There are my grandfather’s vintage German books (the small Bible he use to read daily, his children’s catechism texts) that I liberated from my mother’s house because she was storing them in the basement which is death on old books. The Bible is from 1926 and even though I can’t read it, having it gives me pleasure. I can see, in my mind’s eye, my grandfather sitting in his chair and reading it.
Tucked inside one of these books is a letter written in German. It was written the year I was born. I need to get it translated. My mother no longer speaks the language. There is no signature on the letter so I don’t know who wrote it but I assume it was my Grandfather as my Grandmother was illiterate as far as I know. They didn’t educate women when she was growing up. I like to think that if she had been able to read she would have been a bookworm like me. We are so much alike in so many other ways. We were both quiet solemn people who enjoy being alone.
I also recently commandeered my grandfather’s cane. I plan to use it one day when the ice and age make walking an unwelcome hazard – some days it feels like that will happen this winter. My grandfather was a tall man and his cane fits me perfectly. It makes me feel regal rather than aged.
I have less tangible memories from my father’s parents. My grandfather died when I was thirteen and my grandmother died when I was three thousand miles away in another province. I was not around when they dismantled her house and disposed of everything a life accumulates.
I have a bow-tie quilt that my mother says my grandmother made. The squares feel familiar to me. Did I have a dress made of that gingham red? Did I have a shirt made of that pink? I don’t remember.
I have nothing my paternal grandfather or father made. They were practical men. They used what they made. They lived. They loved. But they were not talkers or writers and in the end, though I know they loved me, I can’t say that I know as much about them as I would like to.
But do we ever really know anybody?
Can love be tangible? Or is it in its very essence intangible; unable to be touched?
I have tangible essence of my mother’s love. When I was sixteen I asked for an afghan in shades of black, red, orange, yellow and white. If you knit you know how hard these dark colours are to work with. She made it for me. There were long afternoons spent knitting and an occasional curse word but I have a tangible object that represents my mother’s love.
When she’s gone there will be something I can touch and wrap myself in and feel her love stretch across miles and time and death.
What is tangible? It is something physical; something that can be touched. Not just seen in the mind’s eye but something actually there. I can see a memory but I cannot always touch it.
I am not sentimental but as I get older I wish for tangible items that will link me with my ancestors.
I’m getting better at this moving thing.
I should be getting better at this moving thing.
I’ve done it enough.
I’ve probably moved over twenty times in the last thirty years.
The last two moves have been the biggest, that is, when I had the most stuff to move. My last move into Saskatoon in 2005, I had a bed, a night table and a rocking chair for furniture and acquired a sofa bed one month after the move.
By my last move out of the city two years ago I had 4 pieces of bedroom furniture, 2 kitchen table with three chairs and 7 pieces of living room/study furniture plus at least twenty boxes (1/2 of them filled with books).
I saved all my boxes from that move because I knew I was moving at least one more time. I went from a one bedroom to a two bedroom at the same rent so I had an empty closet to store the boxes in. For most of my first year living there, I had an empty room until I bought a recliner (so comfy) and moved my old green chair into the empty room. You can see the green chair below surrounded by boxes. It was my quiet room which I never meditated in. When you live alone you don’t really need a quiet room!
As I packed boxes, this time, I moved them into my quiet room so that I did not have to look at them every day. I don’t like disorder! I worked in a library so I also took empty boxes home with me from there – 8 in total. Eight strong, sturdy book boxes.
I gave myself a week to pack so that I wouldn’t have to exist in disorder for too long. Monday and Tuesday I packed the big Living/study Room, Wednesday I packed the Dining Room, Thursday I packed the Kitchen, Friday I packed the Bedroom, Bathroom and Linen closet and Saturday I waited around and read until the moving van came.
When all was said and done, I had three boxes left over. Like I said, I’m getting better at this moving thing. Though, as again, at least 2/3 of the boxes were books. It’s a good thing I get most of my books from the library to read or heaven knows how many boxes I would have needed!
This is my last move. They can bury me here. My stuff and I will only move in small increments now. I’ve moved into my sister’s house on and off since I got here to take care of her dog. It’s easier than him coming here. So I take a little bit of my stuff (book, toothbrush, jammies) with me the days I have to walk him after sleeping over. The bad part of doing this is that it’s been raining and raining and raining. The dog and I got very wet today!
I was lucky in that my nephew could move me since they had to move me along with my stuff. And even though I moved on Saturday I didn’t get possession of my house until Monday and my stuff didn’t get moved until after six as my nephew had to work.
So I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning with my nephew and Sunday afternoon and Monday at my sister’s house. I was ecstatic to finally move into my own house. My last move. My own place. A permanent place for me and my stuff.
I am no longer a renter. I own something. I own something really big. Sometimes this house feels as intimidating as owning an elephant – huge, expensive, exotic.
If I want to, I can paint the walls. If I want to, I can have loud parties. If I want to. I don’t have to worry about damage deposits and cleaning before I leave.
Now I get to worry about other things – like taxes and lawns and long-term neighbours.
Do people still gossip?
Will I fit in with my strange ways and eccentric moods?
I found out my sister thinks me brave because I quit things just like that – she means that I quit places and jobs without always knowing my next step.
I do not feel brave.
I do know that this is my first house and my last move.
I make a home here. I make a home now.
I make a home!
I’ve moved (again).
I have a mostly empty room to fill.
The main (mistress 😉 ) bedroom.
This came with the house. We’re assuming it was made in there because we haven’t figured out (yet) how it comes apart!
It matches my nightstand cabinet really well. How synchronicitic!
It’s hard to tell the colour of the walls in these pictures. The pictures were taken late yesterday afternoon after I read what the Daily Post picture challenge is for this week. Synchronicity abounds. I’ve been in my new place for less than a week.
The big, empty space in the center of the room will, before the Summer is over, house a queen-sized bed. Up to now, the largest bed I’ve owned has been a double. I just fit – head right up to the headboard while my feet touch the foot of the bed. I’ll get to stretch out.
More next week on the grand move and the secret – shhh!
I am a creature of habit. My life is best lived in exact moments; I do not like to deviate from routine. I suspect I am border-line OCD (see David’s story here). I know I test on the scale for low level Aspergers. I’m working on being less stressed and more social.
You can probably tell this if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I do tend to use the same template from post to post; 90% of my blogs only have centered pictures.
These reasons are perhaps why I find moving so stressful. For almost a month my life has been unordered and messy.
I hated having the majority of my stuff in boxes. I’ve only recently got all my stuff living with me in the same space and unpacked. Up until 2008, a small percentage resided in the basement (or safe) at my mother’s house. It made me fell less an adult to not have all my stuff residing with me.
If I needed my birth certificate, I had to go to my mother’s to get it. If I wanted to cuddle my favourite baby doll I was out of luck. If I remembered a book that I wanted to quote from, odds were it wasn’t at my house.
I’ve enjoyed having all my stuff with me for the last few years. I knew where everything was. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. You can ask me where anything is and I can tell you.
Ask me for a hammer. Ask me where I keep my old journals. Where in the kitchen is the flour? Do you have a coffee pot? Well, yes, yes I do even though I do not drink coffee. Where do you keep your purse and keys when you are at home? (Hanging up by the front door, of course).
My old apartment was neat, clean and organized until I had to start to pack for moving!
Packing. I hate packing. It is messy and unorganized. I use newspaper to protect the fragile items and newspaper ink is particularly messy, messy, messy. Next time, I move I’m buying butcher paper or bubble wrap (bubble wrap could be popped later to relieve the stress of packing, moving, and unpacking).
I hate packing. I have to decide what can pack with what; above are Zuzu and Ms. Molly Mouse sharing a box with Wonder Woman. Once things are packed, I have no access to them. Once things are packed I forget what is in the boxes.
Because I was not sure which day was moving day, I had to keep essentials out until the last minute. I packed the dental floss and couldn’t remember where so when I got to my new place I was without floss for about a week (annoying).
Yes, this was even though I had a box marked “packed last, open first!”
Then the move itself was stressful.
I totaled my car the day I went looking for an apartment. I was distracted and looking for an address. Thus, went my car and part of my resolve. The move was starting to feel cursed.
On the day of the move we had two flat tires. When the moving people came to my old apartment they had to change a flat on the trailer. Then we had a blow-out on the truck (pulling the trailer) when we were on the highway. Not fun!
By the time all my stuff was unloaded at my new place and the moving people had left it was 9pm.
And my new place was disorganized and messy, messy, messy.
Thankfully, I had a day to start unpacking before I was due at work. I had to stay in anyway to wait for the tv/internet/phone installer to come.
First, I unpacked my necessity box (which didn’t have everything I needed in it). Drat, I need to plan my boxes better next time.
Important note for nest time: have smaller book boxes!
My first weekend, in the new place, was spent unpacking and organizing. I took the opportunity to get rid of books and to organize the rest of my books and media in a more organized fashion.
I started to feel better about the move.
All my entertainment formats are together; my music cassettes, my cds, my video cassettes, my dvds, my lps, my mp3s all have their own area in my tv cabinet. Before the move they were here, there and everywhere and often organized more for esthetics than practicability.
My new place is bigger. I have a good size dining room but a smaller kitchen. It was a challenge getting the dining area furnished without buying anything new but I think I did okay. It’s practical without being cluttered and I finally have a few of my tea cups out on display.
With the move and everything I can afford a bigger place. I have a second bedroom that I was planning to use as a study.
This is where my roll-top desk was going to go!
However this is not what happened. The desk would not fit into the second bedroom so it lives in the (large) living room. The living room is big enough for the desk and two pull out couches as well as a bookcase and media center!
Unfortunately, this leaves me with an empty room but not an empty closet. My moving boxes are being stored in the spare room closet as it was a major hassle collecting boxes for this move and I know this will not be my last move.
My last move will involve moving back to be closer to family.
One of the things that helped get me through the move was the book Coveted by Shawntelle Madison.
Nat’s a timid werewolf who always wears the same outfit, suffers from OCD tendencies, and a holiday décor hoarding problem. Living alone in her ultra clean cottage and her hundreds (thousands?) of boxes filled with her friends (aka holiday décor, table stuff, ornaments, etc) she works at an antique shop that specializes in magical antiques (that supernatural creatures come far and wide for).
I am moving. Again!! (I want to add many many more exclamation points here).
As you read this (if you read it on the Sunday I post it or the Monday after) I will be moving again.
I am tired of moving. I have moved approximately 30 times in my lifetime (so far). I was almost one the first time we moved. That move was a big move; we went from Germany, where my dad was stationed with the Canadian Air Force, back to Canada. We went back to the small town in Saskatchewan where he had been born and from which, not soon after, he would leave my mom to raise four children (all under the age of five when he left) by herself. My eldest sister went to Kindergarten in Germany.
Obviously, I do not remember this move.
I’ve written about the Hahn house which is the first home I remember.
I’ve also written about my second family moving experience when I was thirteen.
I’d move once more, as part of my mother’s household, just after finishing High School.
I have moved approximately 25 times from the age of twenty to the age of forty-five.
I have lived in four provinces and nine towns/cities.
I have lived in seven different Saskatoon apartments; this is the city I most often seem to be moving in and out of.
Up until my last move I was mostly moving suitcases and boxes.
With each move I kept less and less stuff.
I gave away books and lost my attachment to things (for the most part).
Up until my last move, important items stayed in my mother’s basement!
I moved into my current Saskatoon apartment with a bed, a side cabinet and a rocking chair. Slowly I’ve acquired more stuff (mostly second hand).
And books…I never completely purged my personal library.
Well, I didn’t do most of the moving. My nephew moved in the heavy stuff. All my stuff, six years ago, fit in a car and a half-ton truck.
I have much more stuff now.
I have just enough stuff for my one bedroom comfortably furnished HOME.
I’m so tired of moving, of not having a permanent place that is all mine!
I envy my sisters’ more permanent places.
My eldest sister and I were discussing our childhood aspirations recently as we drove back from the auction.
She mentioned how her goal was to have a home that no one could take away from her.
I mentioned that I had wanted to travel and see the world.
(I’ve not seen the world but I’ve seen a good portion of this country I call HOME).
I still want to see the world, but the older I get the more I also want a home base, a place where I can keep all my stuff and feel safe coming back to recharge in.
I had hoped that this would be my last apartment.
I know this current move will not be my last.
I am moving for work because I got the perfect job outside the city.
My ultimate goal is to be closer to family (I want to see the babies grow up. I want the babies to know me not just see me on holidays and in the summer. Children grow up so fast! I miss everyone not just the babies.)
So, hopefully after this move is over there will be only one more move in my future.
I keep losing people. 😦 It’s, as if, they’re there one minute and gone the next. It feels that abrupt and that direct. They’re not dying off. They’re just gone from my life.
The first person I lost was my Dad. He left not soon after I turned one and I didn’t see him again until I was almost thirteen. He did bring more people in my life at that time. When he came back into my life I gained an awesome step-mom, two new brothers and three new sisters. An even trade-off 🙂
The next person I lost was my BFF B when I was thirteen. She moved into the city and gradually became just a blip in my life. We were pretty constant from the time we were born and I thought we would be friends forever. I lost a few other friends around the same time as parents were transferred or got remarried, and unlike today, we only had snail mail to keep in touch with. I wasn’t permitted to make long distance phone calls; too expensive.
I lost a classroom full of people when I graduated at eighteen. I grew up in a small town and went from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve with basically the same thirty classmates. I wasn’t popular but I had friends and boy friends and potential boyfriends. I was more of an outcast; a clique of one. Still, these classmates were constant in my life for thirteen years. I knew them in a way as they knew me. Life was predictable.
Two years later, I went to Calgary to go to Community College. I lost a whole town then. People who knew me day to day. People who knew my family better than me. People who barely knew me. The townfull of children I babysat for from age thirteen to age twenty. Around two thousand people who knew where I came from, who I belonged to, what my personality was. There is comfort and security and a sort of safety in people knowing who you are and what to expect from you. And in you’re knowing what to expect from them.
I had a small circle of acquaintances in Calgary, mostly from school. I lived closer to my Dad and his family so thus was able to get to know them all in a more day to day way. Got to know them, I thought, in a more real way as I participated in their everyday life. Then I didn’t graduated and moved to Saskatoon and lost them all, except for my family. But I lost the ability to be there with them on a daily basis.
Five years working in Child-Care in Saskatoon. Three years married. I decide to go to university after my divorce and lost a husband and any contact with his family. I lost, once again, the children I babysit. The children who were part of my day to day life.
And moving to Montreal I lost day to day contact with all my family. I went home once in six years and none of them ever saw where I lived in Montreal. This is what being poor and working class gets you. It gets you lost.
I had a bigger circle of acquaintances and friends in Montreal. Acquaintances from school who I saw daily (for four years of my BA program, two years of my Masters program) and lost completely after graduation. The friends I still write to and they write back. A few of them also blog so I feel on occasion that I am back in their day to day lives. We write sporadically and I wonder how the Victorians did it. How they were able to maintain friendships with sporadic visits and daily letters?
I graduated with my Masters in 1997. Since then I lived in one small town well working in another, one medium small town, a tourist small town and a small city or two depending on how many months equals living somewhere. I am now back in Saskatoon.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now I keep losing people because I keep moving. I’ve lost not just acquaintances and friends but boyfriends and husbands and lovers. I’ve lost half a century (almost) of connections. And I don’t know how to get them back.
Everyone else’s life looks to be so full. I’m back in the same area where I grew up and can count the number of acquaintances I have on both hands and the number of friends on one. Family is constant but it’s been decades since I was part of their everyday life and they part of mine.
I went to my thirtieth reunion last May. It would be nice to be able to see some of these people more regularly. Some of them live in my city. Some of them I like better now than I did in High School. But they have full lives and don’t seem to be looking to increase their circle of acquaintances.
I yearn for more. I want to have people in my life to go to the movies or the theatre with. People to play with on a weekly basis. How do you do it? How does one make friends and connect with potential lovers when one is middle-aged and new to the community?