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I’m standing in the middle of the chaos that is moving, among my stuff, in and out of boxes, and I am overwhelmed. This is not an unfamiliar or unsurprising feeling for anyone who has ever moved. But this particular move feels different. This is a lot of letting go. And this is a lot of reconnecting.

When I first told people that I was taking a new job that would involve being away from my family for a month, their congratulations quickly curdled into something resembling pity and concern. Never mind that when my husband left for an even longer trip over the summer for his job, no one batted an eye. And then the questions: what will your family do? What will your husband do? What about the kids?

Won’t someone think of the children?

Finally, one friend, a fellow mother and professional, upon hearing my news, was actually happy for me, and exclaimed, “You’re getting a month to yourself? You must be so excited.” What a relief to finally have someone else put into words what I was actually feeling: giddy excitement and anticipation. I was starting my dream job. I was going to be able to do so with minimal distraction. How often does that happen?

One day, I was doing a job, and was a mother and a wife and a teacher, and then the next, I had a different job, and I wasn’t any of those other things anymore, at least temporarily. I drove for eight hours, and it felt like I was moving through time as well as space. The further I drove, the further away in time and space I was moving from one life to a new one.

Peel away the time, peel away the space, peel away the noise and the voices and the weight. What’s left? Or rather, who is left? Focus on the positive, what has been gained. Except when it obscures the real holes that are left from what has been lost.

Sometimes you read about concepts, like liminal spaces, and you intellectually understand them, but then you have a moment where you truly experience it, and something shifts. Being able to name a thing that is happening to you can help, but it can also lead you to get further lost in the space.

I’ve always prided myself in being able to make anywhere into a home, of rebuilding, expanding, renovating my life and all of it’s parts. But it is work, a kind of emotional labor that takes its toll. And it often felt like I was trying to make myself into something that would fit where I was. I was rebuilding myself, over and over. For the first time, in a long time, the space was made for me.

But of course it isn’t just me.

I’ve told and retold what I now call my origin story so many times these past few weeks; how in ten years of marriage, one can live in two countries, four states, five different cities and towns, seven different homes. But each move was because there wasn’t room for all four of us to make ourselves at home. And each move, we each made sacrifices, for each other.

But this time, as I unpack, I try to let go of the things that I can no longer afford to carry, and those things too important to let go, I move them around to better fit. And there are other pieces, put away and long forgotten, that I rediscover, dust off, and decide to put in a place of honor.

Until it’s time to move again.


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