When I was a child, my family moved around quite a bit. Amongst those I knew best, there was unrest and motion was therapy. Though our actual distance covered between moves was typically just a few hundred kilometres – if you wanted to graph my childhood movements, you would find a spiral with an epicentre dead over The Wildrose City, Alberta – the actual packing of household, loading, shipping, worrying, hating, unloading, and unpacking looks like we could have gone around the world twice over. I am sometimes reminded that my ancestors were both farmers and explorers. The combination has made me semi-nomadic.
I have become used to it, the moving and this work of turning houses into homes. What goes here? Where can I put this? This is an interesting cubby, what can I do with it? And then, as the boxes pile in but the space does not expand, why don’t my things fit into the space where I live? I need a shelf here, but there is none. I want this wall gone, but it’s not my wall to destroy. Fighting the urge to rearrange the basic structure- even if I could, where would find the time to do so? – I try to mould myself into the space. Jam the detritus of my existence into a room already filled.
This life I led is a shape shifter. It changes to go with what already is instead of elbowing out some space. Always, I make do. Unpacking my treasures for the fourth time in the fourth town of this year alone, I am suspiciously reminded of my childhood. Feeling like I’m both gloriously transient and tired from carrying it all on my back.
The morning, my children have gone with their father, and I have a chance to actually hear my thoughts as I go through the boxes and bags, putting out and stashing. This is the other side of the move, after the rushing, heaving, and lugging, when the greatest danger is not doing what needs done. To leave those boxes piled in the basement, and just opening and pulling out what is needed in the moment, so tempting! But not an option, if I want to live in this house as if I am home.
So, what am I thinking as I go through, assigning and arranging? Is it all similarities between the hopefulness of now and the dysfunction of then, the patterns I unconsciously repeat, the unacknowledged feelings driving me to do it over and over again? Maybe. But it is also how the habits I’ve transported over half a lifetime of experience work really well for me. My preferences, idiosyncratic seeming from outside the picture, are quite functional and useful within the context of me. Moveable. Adaptable.
Well, whadyaknow? I’ve lived and learned.
Here I am again, all new. Exhilarated and exhausted. I brought with me some hard feeling and weariness, but also music, laughter, wine and children. I will honour this place, its history, and not walk too heavy on its already worn floors or fill the sagging cupboards with too much weight. I know that I will be moving on, a date already set just as the lake outside my doors begins to swarm with sun lovers and smell predominantly of coconut scented crèmes, and I can only appreciate my temporary domesticity the singularity of this home, and how I fill the space here in a way that can only happen here, now, in this place.