since yesterday the movers have been here. yesterday was mainly to pack boxes and check that the boxes we packed are solid. today the truck is here and the men are loading everything. it’s odd to look around and see that all of the bits and pieces of daily living fit neatly into small cardboard squares.
we think that we have a full life. we try to create a life with meaning and purpose. and to see it reduced to a bunch of boxes and cellophaned furniture is kind of like looking down into the grand canyon (i’ve actually never been there, but this is kind of how i imagine it to be…). it’s a yawning void spreading out before us, and even though our most personal possessions are in luggage that we will keep with us, is strange to look ahead into nothing.
the next few days we will be living out of those suitcases and off the kindness of friends and neighbors. we will be basically untethered, with no accoutrements to tie us down or frame our reality.
it’s strange how much we define ourselves by our surroundings and by what we own. we think we are what we eat, but really we are a sum total of what we do and what we HAVE. so it’s kind of unsettling to be in this transitional stage where we feel like we own nothing.
i know we are very lucky in that we actually do own what we need. i know that there are plenty of people who have way less. we feel bad for them when we see them in a store counting change at the cash register, or when we drive by them on the street. we are all aware on an intellectual level that they have little or nothing. but to actually have a glimpse of what they live with in and out every single day is frightening and transformative.
i think it will be a long time before i take things for granted again, that’s for sure.
i knew that moving would be hectic and disorganized in spite of my best efforts. i expected that we would be turned upside down for a few short days. but what i didn’t expect is that, without our stuff, we feel ungrounded, upended, and empty.
we are like soap bubbles that float up and away. we have pretty trappings on the outside, but we are as fragile as a breeze. we are dependent on the whims of the universe (ok, not totally, since we have many kind and generous neighbors who will help us for the next few days). we have a peek into how people must feel after a natural disaster.
you know who i’m talking about- the people who are interviewed from the temporary red cross shelter, often with a blanket draped over their shoulders. they are usually crying, and if they are not outright sobbing, they are on the verge of it. and i always watched them with interest, smugly thinking that all they lost are possessions. stuff can be replaced. they will get money from insurance or donations (or something, i always assume….) and they can replace their junk- so why be so upset?
it’s so easy to sit in my air-conditioned or heated house, wearing clean clothes, with food in the fridge and my family nearby, and just judge and judge those people. i always imagined myself to be the one who said, “i’m just grateful my family is ok”, but it’s really not that simple.
it’s shocking how people start to unravel after a few days without a hot shower. it’s crazy how things start to fall apart when someone can’t find a favorite jacket, and they know it’s not going to be found any time soon. it’s odd and embarrassing how attached we are by our belongings, and how adrift we are without them.
we probably won’t have internet access for the next few days. i don’t know if i will be able to post, or even to check the comments here. i feel like i am going deep sea diving, and i’m just hoping i have enough oxygen in my tank.
when i surface, one of the first things i will do is check the blog.
and until them, i know i will have much more compassion for people who aren’t drowning in their own stuff.