Moving

Moving to a new place is like a kind of personal archeological dig.

Home is where the heart is, and like your heart, you don’t think about it unless there’s a problem. Stuff accumulates where you live. You put things down on the counter and walk away, and they become part of the environment. You put a box of old stuff in the garage and forget you ever owned it.

But when you move, you dig out all the old stuff. You notice things you haven’t noticed in years.

You remember how much stuff you own. Shower curtains, clothes you haven’t worn in nine years, blank floppy disks still sealed in plastic (maybe you bought them in bulk one time because you thought you’d be using them forever), birthday cards, guitar strings, printer ink, books you bought but never read.

Why do I own all this shit? I don’t even want it.

*

I’ve moved a lot. Not as much as some people, but more than average. I heard somewhere that the average person moves every five years. I move every year.

Every time I move, I say, “I’m not going to move again.”

Not until I get married or get rich. Or have kids. Whatever.

But when I unpack all my stuff, I fold up the cardboard boxes and put them against the back wall of a closet somewhere.

It’s a pain in the ass, going from store to store in your town, asking everyone if they have any boxes they’re just going to throw away anyway. These days, stores are getting money to recycle their boxes. They ship them back to corporate headquarters in Ohio or Illinois or wherever, and get paid sixteen cents for every box.

So if you know you’re going to be moving again this time next year, you might as well save all your boxes.

*

A lot of memories come back, during a move. Mostly memories of other moves. People who helped you move. Do you even talk to them anymore? If you called them on the phone right now, would you have a conversation, or would it be mostly awkward silence followed by a hasty, “Anyway, I gotta run, but it was great talking to you”?

Remembering is always so sad. Even when you’re remembering good times. Especially when you’re remembering good times—where did they go?

*

On the bright side, the new apartment has a better hot water heater. And the walls have better insulation, so I don’t hear my neighbors talking all the time.

Maybe this time I’ll stay. I don’t know. But all my boxes are folded up in a closet in the bedroom, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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Hi, I’m Mitchell Nelson.

I wrote The Cannibal’s Daughter and some other books. I blog on this site occasionally, but I spend most of my time writing new fiction. You can read more about me here, if that's what you're into.

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