Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Moving Day

The prompt (from Writer's Toolkit):
Write about something you did that you didn't want to do.

My response:
I love moving day, and I hate it.

I mean, I know, right? Everybody hates moving day. Everybody hates filling out change of address forms and saying goodbye to the good neighbors. Everybody hates boxing up the big things.

But the little things are worse. The things that are lost until the big things are gone. All these things end up in a box that is impossible to label:

This box contains a half-empty shampoo bottle, five socks with no mates, a plastic horse with a broken leg, four playing cards, and seventeen filthy pennies.

I've moved. I've moved again. Some years it seemed like there was nothing but the moving.

So I know all about the pennies in the carpet after the boxes are gone. I know about things that are impossible to label.

My mother woke us early every moving day, but she didn't have to. We were up. We were going over and over it in our heads: What's going to be next? Will this one have a nice kid next door? Will this one be furnished? Will there finally be a sofa? Which stray cat will find us this time? How will we bear to leave him when it's time to move on?

Then the sun rises, and mom comes in, and we spend the next hour piling a truck's worth of belongings into the car. Deciding what to leave. What to take.

Saying goodbye to this neighborhood's stray cat.

We never think there will be tears. We're six, eight, and ten. Twelve, fourteen, sixteen. Seven, nine, eleven. This never was our cat.

Still, there are tears.

It takes a mile for our eyes to dry, but then we get to the fun part. Moving day is about packing and it is about unpacking, but my favorite is the part in between. The reprieve. The drive, which may be long or short, which may be fast or slow, but which is inevitably full of promise.

The hope is always the same: This place will be different. This place will be perfect. We will have our own bedrooms. We will each have a best friend. We will unpack and unpack and there will still be space. We will finally open the door, bring the cat inside, because this time, we will stay. The cat will be permanent and we will be permanent.

We giggle, on that drive. We make jokes. Even Dad, creased with tension over roads and rent and security deposits, will smile.

I love the drive.

I love the drive so much, I hate arriving.

Arriving to basement apartments with no windows, rooms too small to fill with dancing. Kids who won't be as nice as we hoped. Another stray cat we will love and lose.


Anonymous said...

Sarah, my dear, I love to read one of your writings! It brings so many memories! Thank you!

Mariah Irvin said...

Great piece! I've also done my fair share of moving and you really capture the emotions I remember most.

Sarah Dooley said...

Anonymous, I wish I knew who you were, but you're quite welcome! And thanks!

Mariah, thank you! I have a love/hate relationship with moving. Usually, it goes: I hate moving, but I love having moved.


The part of moving I like best is when it's over and all the questions are finally answered.
I didn't move much when I was little but my family now has had our fair share due to job transfers.
I'm happy to be planted where I am and don't plan on moving anymore until they move me to my grave back home in WV.
Blessings Sarah. I love your writing.