Welcome back, readers!
When people ask how the move went, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to say.
In all measurable ways, the move went fairly well. The movers were wonderful, and all their back-breaking, sweat-inducing labor insured most everything was set-up in the house only a weekend later. I haven't bumped into any major headaches as I've been paying new bills, changing addresses, and trying to set up services. The new house is clean, cool (thank God for central air!), and bug-free.
But the truth is, even though I moved less than a year ago, I must've blocked from my mind how anxiety-ridden moving can be. Lately I've been remembering another move, over a decade ago, when my husband I first set up our home in Chicago, the first time I ever lived in a city.
I stopped at the small local grocery store to pick up a few necessary things. Ahead of me in the only open check-out lane were two older women, one black, one white. The white woman was convinced the the black woman had cut in line. She rammed her cart into the other woman's side. The black woman turned around, shocked, while the white woman cursed her out. The black woman responded by flipping her off. The white woman escalated her attack, screamed. The black woman pushed aside her cart, readied her stance in case the fight turned physical. Meanwhile, third in line, I began to cry.
The white woman looked vaguely like my mom. And I couldn't imagine why someone like my mom would ever lose control enough to scream like that. How had I ended up in such a place? How could I possibly find my bearings, my niche, in a world where strangers almost came to blows in the grocery store? How could I even get through the check out line to pay for my things without looking like a total wreck?
Life in Chicago did get better. It took years, but eventually I learned to love the city, made life-long friends, and would proudly call the South Side home when I moved again, this time to England. And honestly, I can't remember ever seeing another grocery store fight, though I also ended up shopping in other places, and learned as I went about my business to put on a city-face that protected me both physically and emotionally.
What makes moving so difficult is having no frame of reference, no sense of direction, no defenses, and no place in a new world. When I don't even know where the gas station is, I'm anxious to leave the house, anxious to use up gas, anxious about getting lost, and even the smallest trip (say, walking to the local grocery store) can turn into an existential crisis. But of course, like many other things, the only way out is through, the only way to get to know and love my new home is to make it so.
You'll be pleased to know, this level of anxiety already feels like a distant memory. And I haven't cried in the grocery store once! But I do think it's worth writing about, worth remembered and understanding as I move forward. Now my new office is set up, along with a table and chairs on the back porch, and I'm slipping back into my writing and blogging routine. Thursday I'll share some recent diverse reads, and next week I promise I'll post some happier (though perhaps weirder) stories about all I've encountered thus far in NC. Until then.