July 31, 2015

Panic, Frenzy, and Denial: The Many Stages of Moving

In my 25 years of being a post-womb human, I've moved many times. So the stages of moving? They're nothing new to me.

Stage One

The process usually starts around three weeks before the big day. You know it's begun when you think to yourself, "Look at all this stuff. I should start packing."

This is the beginning of the first stage of moving: denial.

Because you can't start packing, not yet. I mean, you could, but what happens if you decide to make chili with that Crock-Pot that's been sitting under your sink for fifteen months? Chili is already a hassle but if you had to unbox a Crock-Pot first? That's just downright unreasonable. This isn't the 1800's after all; we don't have time to do leisurely things like churn butter and unbox Crock-Pots every time we want some chili. We buy Land O'Lakes from the store and only unbox things when they're new.

The length of this stage is pretty variable, but usually last around two and a half weeks until you're looking for a pen in your junk drawer and notice that you have a cab receipt from last January.

Now, denial may be able to convince you that you might be making your once annual pot of chili before you move, but you're not delusional. You only took that cab receipt in the first place because it felt like the adult thing to do; there's absolutely no need to have it six months later.

And that's when the second stage kicks in: frenzied throwing away of stuff.

Stage Two

Now, I'm not a hoarder by any means, but I am a combination of selectively thrifty (stingy) and incredibly messy. For example, when I had my hair done for my best friend's wedding last October, I saved every one of the 162 bobby pins that the stylist used so that I could avoid buying bobby pins for at least the next 162 days.

But being as messy as I am, I didn't save them in one designated "bobby pin spot."

Instead, I decided to scatter them throughout my apartment. A lot of them ended up in the usual bobby pin locations: in my makeup bag, under the sink, behind the mirror. But then they also ended up under my bed, in my sock drawer, and the rogue one or two that found themselves in completely inappropriate places like my couch.

It's not a terrible thing because when you're looking for a bobby pin in the morning, you can find one pretty much anywhere if you look hard enough. But when you're about to move? It's the nail in the "I have way too much junk" coffin.

It's the realization that you have way too many unnecessary things in way too many unnecessary places that leads to this second stage of manic downsizing.

When I go through this stage, anything that I haven't used in the past three months goes. Things that I don't recognize are gone. Things that just look weird are also trashed. Pen caps, papers, unidentified pieces of plastic that may have once been attached to a vacuum. Half-empty bottles of wine, hair sprays, coagulated vanilla-scented lotions, that yellow cord that's sitting around not plugged into anything.

Anything that doesn't seem useful in that moment is now nothing but my coat closet's memory.

This is the most productive stage of moving in that it is actually quite helpful: packing is easier when you're not swimming in broken plastic and chewed pen caps. The only problem is that, if you're like me, all that downsizing leaves you feeling incredibly accomplished even though nothing actually got packed.

Stage Three

So then the third stage sets in: undeserved procrastination where, instead of folding your sweaters and wrapping your jewelry, you sit in your living room and write a completely unnecessary blog post. I mean, you already did so much; what more is left to do? It's like the eye of the storm in a way before the fourth and final stage of moving:

Sheer panic.

Happy Moving Day.