Lessons on Moving

My life has been one big box of junk for the past three months. I’ve posted enough about that move. If you’re like me and you’re behind on your blog reading, here’s a list of my previous posts. Just click on the title to read.

Thoughts on Moving

Saying Good-bye

Mountain Living

Mindful Monday – Discovering the Truest Pleasures

We’re still in transition with a part of us in North Carolina, some sections in Pittsburgh, and a whole lot in a storage unit waiting to move to Florida (sorry, furniture, but you’ll have to spend the winter in Freedom, PA).

Leaving Pittsburgh

Leaving Pittsburgh

But at least the packing is done, and we are grateful to the family member who is allowing us to stay in an empty condo while my husband continues his job, and we’re grateful for that little piece of heaven down in Murphy, North Carolina. Along the way, I learned some important lessons about one of life’s most stressful events – THE MOVE.

Minions1. Minions – Every night when I went to bed, minions entered the house and added more stuff. I would clean a closet, a cupboard, a shelf, it didn’t matter. Yet, when I returned in the morning more items appeared on the shelves I’d emptied the day before.

hangers2. Hangers – Hangers are the rabbits of inanimate objects. I figured out that for every hanger left on the rack, ten more reproduced in the course of a day. This phenomenon is real and not imagined by me. Ask the minions – they come in at night to watch. Creepy little dudes.

3. Windex® – Windex is a miracle cure for everything. I learned this from watching the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. One day, while in a frantic state to finish all the tasks for the buyers of our house, I was stung by a wasp. I had to mow the lawn before the rain came, yet all medical supplies had been boxed and moved, except for the few things the minions left on the kitchen counter the night before. I ran in the house and saw the bottle of Windex, sprayed my chest and the bite, and ran back out to the mower. The bite disappeared without redness or swelling. I guess the minions can be helpful after all.

4. Scientists – My husband with his brilliant engineering/scientific mind surprised me when it came time to get those boxes packed. He finally went down to the basement and garage area of our home and began sorting and putting things in the boxes I provided. I presented him with his own large Sharpie® and packing tape. “Why do I need these?” he asked. I explained about taping boxes shut, which he thought silly when he could just fold down the four sides. “But movers are putting these in the storage unit, so they need to be taped.” He understood, but he stared at the Sharpie as if I’d brought him a cockroach. “Why do I need a marker?” Again, I explained that we were moving things to three different locations and the destination needed to be designated on every box. Plus, I wanted him to indicate what might be in the box. “We’ll just move everything to the storage unit and open them up to see what’s inside,” he said in his very logical scientific mind. No, we won’t is the paraphrased version of my response. He did mark his boxes, but still questioned the necessity of such a thing. He didn’t understand that we had more than one hundred boxes going to different locations. His mind was on getting all of his junk treasures off the shelves. I love that man, but his mind works at angles so very different from my own.

Somehow we pulled it off, and now we spend a few months in transition between Pennsylvania and North Carolina. It’s a suspended sort of time until he retires and our home in Florida becomes available. At first, not really being settled for months bothered me and my A-type personality. But when I came to the mountains, I gazed out over the Smokies and something changed. I don’t know if it’s the mountain air or the realization that hit me as I sat with my husband amid the boxes and chaos of our current life. With him, no matter the location or situation, I am home. Forget the minions, hangers, Windex, and Sharpies–home resides somewhere beyond the physical. Perhaps that’s the sole reason our timing was so screwed up this year. I needed this time to realize my real home is right where I am at any given time.

My daughter visited our new home recently. A day after her arrival, she looked around the cabin with boxes strewn here and there. “You’re different here, Mom.” How so? “You aren’t worried about making everything perfect,” she said.

No, I’m not, and that’s because it already is.

Mountain Living

Smokies1Our entry into living atop a mountain didn’t begin with any auspicious drum rolls. In fact, if I took those first few hours after arrival at our cabin with two vehicles and a U-haul trailer as a sign, it would send me right back to Pittsburgh. But life throws us those little curves so we know how wonderful it feels when things go from bad to good.

We left Pittsburgh on a Friday morning around 6 a.m. in our little caravan of loaded vehicles and trailer. Mostly a smooth drive, but long because we both needed to stop often. Probably our tiredness and exhaustion from preparing to move was the key to our lack of stamina for what should have been a nine-hour drive. Within an hour of the new place, dark clouds came rolling over the mountains. Around 6:30 p.m. we pulled down our road. Unfortunately, the rain had started, and we forgot which of the turn offs led to our cabin. A newly installed steep driveway at our neighbors confused me, and I led our caravan up the wrong drive. I backed up my little Hyundai–right into a ditch. My husband had headed up a very steep drive that was not ours with the truck and trailer. ditchWhen he tried to back down, he ended up jack-knifing the trailer, blocking the road up to our driveway. jackknifedTwo hours and one wonderful tow truck driver later, we arrived with everything intact, albeit wet, at our cabin. We wondered if we’d made a hasty decision in moving here, but daylight and views of the smoke on the Smokies changed our minds.

 

meSo did the beautiful cabin that we’ve spent this week making our own. I brought my office desks and a dining room table. The rest of the furniture we purchased here, but it won’t arrive until our next visit later this month. As our ten-day stay nears an end, I yearn to stay. This place has grabbed me despite the incessant rain for the past five days. I feel at home here already. I can tell because I’ve been able to work on my next novel every day this week. The words come easily in my new office, and it feels like the place where I’ll write plenty more novels.Smokies

 

Yesterday, my husband planted two tomato plants and two pepper plants. tomato plantThat’s always a sure sign that we’re home.

 

 

 

 

 

WORD OF CAUTION: “Someone” in our crew threw in a large bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap at the last minute. It came open on the trip and dumped all over a table my great aunt made more than one hundred years ago. The table had been draped in a quilt made by my grandmother seventy-five years ago. Over that I wrapped an old tablecloth and put bungie cords around the whole thing. To our surprise, that soap acted as a harsh chemical and ate through the tablecloth, quilt, and damaged parts of the table. I don’t use this stuff and it wasn’t supposed to come on this trip, but “someone” saw it on the floor of the garage where we’re staying in Pittsburgh and decided it would fill a hole nicely. I’m even more convinced that I’d rather not use this stuff on my hands.

Soap damage.

Soap damage.

Soap ate the quilt.

Soap ate the quilt.

Thoughts on Moving

wild plum

Pittsburgh Home

My brain struggles to keep it all straight, so a little notebook has become my friend in recent weeks. We’ve made some major decisions in the past month that will impact our lives for years. Timing seems to be a little off, but I believe there is a reason for everything. It sometimes takes years to figure it out. Sometimes, we never do.

NEWHOUSE

New Cabin in NC

We are in the process of becoming hybrid snowbirds when my husband retires. We’re not sure when that will happen, but it will be within two years, maximum. His company doesn’t want him to retire, and he still enjoys his work, so why mess with that? Except his job is in Pittsburgh, and we’ve just sold our home here and bought a new log cabin in Murphy, North Carolina. Our home in Tallahassee has tenants in it until April.

Interesting times ahead. I feel as if I’m juggling balls in the air as I make arrangements for the moves, buying a home, selling a home, and giving away as much as possible. I’m packing for the move into a condo here in Pittsburgh temporarily; I’m separating our lives into Florida and North Carolina.

As hectic and chaotic as life is right now, I’m enjoying parts of it. Once I started on the task of going through all of our stuff, I began to find a rhythm for what to throw away or recycle, what to donate to our local Vietnam Veterans group, and what to keep. I find it fascinating to discover that many things from my past no longer hold any attraction–at least not enough to want to fill yet another box. So the award trophies and copies of everything I’ve had published meet either the recycle bin or the garbage bags. I’m recycling the article I wrote about kindergartners dressing up as mice and singing “Three Blind Mice” during their end of the year program at the local elementary school. No, I don’t think I need that for my portfolio. I don’t need the feature article about the scary man who raised hairless dogs in a trailer. But maybe I’ll hang onto the series I did on drugs in the community where I lived. I won an award for that and for columns I wrote. Perhaps I should keep those, too.

I found my baby book yesterday, hidden way back on a high shelf in my office. I thought I’d lost that in my last move. But there it was with little tidbits about my early life. I was child No. 5, so Mommy didn’t write too much about little Patti, except one tidbit I treasure: “By twenty months, Patti had a very large vocabulary.” I wonder what words my not-quite-two-year-old brain processed.

I read my diary from seventh grade yesterday. I admit after reading it, that it’s a wonder I made it this far as a writer. “Today I went to school. I came home and did chores. I talked to Brent on the phone for hours.” Dull and not worth saving anymore. When I become famous, I’d hate for anyone to use that in my archives.

I found yearbooks and cards from my teaching years, also not worth keeping. “You’re my favorite English teacher ever, and I hope I make an ‘A’ in your class this semester.” Those comments made me laugh, right before I placed them in the recycle pile.

Photos from my years as a Girl Scout leader and the girls in my troop, who are now young women in their thirties in professional careers and raising their own children. Those I keep because my own daughter and her friends who were like my daughters are chronicled in those photos.

So many phases of a life, but I don’t feel old. Yet I’ve lived nine or more lives it seems.

I’m keeping just enough to remind me of those good times. The rest I’m willing to let go because I’m moving into a new phase. As I do my juggling act, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. Every day brings new tasks and challenges, but it’s now that counts so I stay present while visiting the past for a minute here and there.

It’s strange to be moving right now as the garden begins to blossom and bring us bounty. My husband couldn’t help himself. Despite selling the house, he put in a garden as a gift to the buyers. More on that later, I promise.

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