Tag Archives: moving

moving right along

After months of looking at all kinds of houses and being very picky and demanding about the area but open to fixer-uppers, we are about to close on a house in our neighbourhood. Once that decision was finally determined, we immediately put our townhouse on the market and have since been playing the game of “hide every shred of human existence and make your house look like a hotel and do it quick.”

The market in Australia usually runs by open houses rather than private showings, though D and I never hesitate to ask for private showings of listings when it suits us. The result of the open house is a frenzy of people winding their way through the house in a thirty-minute span, dripping with sweat, and by the end of the day they are totally dizzy with what they have seen. My one neighbour went to six open houses today in her search for the perfect investment property, and another neighbour was doing the same in search of the ideal home for her growing family. Our house was opened up around the same time as two others on our street today, so people filter down the street like a parade.

While keeping our home as pristine as one can with a school-aged child and three pets, not to mention two full-grown adults who like to live and eat and work at home, I have slowly begun the boxing books.jpgbusiness of packing up. I am ever amazed at the quantity of things we moved to Australia on airplane trips. We have all of our photo albums from birth to now, little treasures like our Christmas ornaments, my grandmother’s silver, and then all the clothes (considering we dumped what felt like the majority of the wardrobes before we moved here and have constantly donated since we moved here, this, too, is impressive). I have fifty-three boxes that can be filled (the suggested quantity from our removalists). I wonder how many will be full on moving day.

As I pack, however, I see D and S really struggling with this move. This one is somehow different and harder and scarier even though we are moving only three streets over and about 5 houses up the hill. This townhouse has been an anchor for us. Our daughter has lived here for the majority of her little life. We have loved it and hated it and we are about to move from a new modern sleek place to an old funky one that needs a lot of love and attention.

In all of this, I have realised, for reasons I cannot explain, I just keep pushing forward. I push even when it is not the most sensible thing to do. And as I push myself, those who love me and want to live with me get pushed and pulled along my path. I was speaking with S’s therapist a couple of weeks ago about this and she pointed out that sometimes when we are pushing forward, we just drag more and more and more stuff behind us. I’m clomping on through the snow that’s up to my knees and I’m on the verge of collapsing. At some point, I’m going to need to stop and sit still and work on what’s here in front of me without the distraction of moving again.


moving as a COH

Moving can’t be good for hoarders. This is my firm conclusion after being in Australia for a week now, having arrived with my daughter, her nanny, four suitcases and a car seat. I spent the first five days in our temporary apartment just “churning.” Pick up a paper, put it in a different pile or a different folder, find another one, forget what I’m doing, start looking again, start something else. It was complete disorganized chaos. I don’t think I was even looking for anything specific. Nothing was in the right place and I was so afraid of losing an important receipt or my passport or proof of my work visa, that I couldn’t figure out where to place anything. I arrived in a new pristine office on campus with tons of empty shelves and it looked beautiful. Then I quickly set about keeping used padded envelopes and twist ties in a neat pile in case I need them for later. At the house we’re in (fully furnished, very fortunately), I’ve started saving yogurt containers, cardboard scraps, and empty bottles for future craft projects or simple storage until we get more permanent items around us. I’m mindful of this odd activity, but I can’t stop myself from wanting to accumulate odd scraps “just in case” I need them later. An unused napkin suddenly becomes a useful treasure since we haven’t yet bought a box of Kleenex.

Yesterday afternoon I met with my mentor who is a self-professed “major hoarder.” I entered his office which he called “unusually tidy” and it was filled with mountains of paper, walls covered with odd pictures and posters, piles of books on the desk. It was rather attractive all together although some of the images disturbed me. It was a well-cushioned nest, lived in, loved, worked in, accumulated over the years, full of meaningful treasure that I could easily relate to and understand. These were objects collected over the years – art postcards, newspaper clippings, a grading scale tacked up on the wall near his computer screen. I could see the compulsion there, which was in stark contrast to what I’ve seen of his home which has very carefully selected objets with a clear esthetic and very tidy lines woven warmly through the living area.

Our rental home is attractive to me – white, stainless steel, granite, and gorgeous “timber” floors and a sprawling deck with seating for six. It’s a much smaller space, much less comfortable and less me than our “real” home that we reconstructed and decorated ourselves, but this is a livable space, clean and sparse as it is. I long to fill it with comfort that isn’t needed … pillows and blankets, for example… rugs, splashes of color.

All of this need to have things, longing for objects, reminds me of the first time I was objectively confronted with the horror of my father’s hoarding. I have seen the image in my mind only very occasionally throughout the years, but today it keeps popping back in front of me. We were living in a very similar (but much less modern) rental home for a little more than a year after the bank foreclosed on my parents’ dream home in the country. I used the dungeon like cement cellar/basement of the home for my own “things” and my father filled the garage. By filled, I mean filled. When we moved to Missouri, I don’t think we were able to empty the whole thing. I have a vague memory of actually walking on top of stuff about 3 feet deep to get to some of my things. When my father and step-mother went back to Montana to get the rest of our “stuff” they asked me specifically if there was anything I wanted. For some reason I wanted this really dumb silk stuffed hot air balloon with a porcelain clown hanging below it on a swing. I suspect now that they went out and bought a new one for me, because somehow I ended up with two of them. I can’t imagine the horror that my step-mom felt when she saw that garage full of crap.

When my father and I made the move from Montana to Missouri, he had an old pickup truck and he built a wooden frame around the back, probably about 5 feet high. He piled in some furniture and other items, roped it all in, tied a tarp over it, and we wobbled slowly to our new home, getting lost in downtown Kansas City along the way. All that crap either made it into the house or into the garage. I believe there was a garage sale once, and then the rest just remained. It’s there still, somewhere, in their hoarding house. My two porcelain clowns and their stupid silk balloons are probably still hanging out somewhere in my teen-years bedroom. Garbage, all of it. And yet, here I am, an adult and mother, clinging to scrap paper and empty yogurt containers. Just in case.

*COH = child of hoarder

you couldn’t if you tried

Remember how hoarding is all the rage? I forgot to tell another Housewives story to further convince you of my very bad taste in TV.

About two weeks ago on the Real Housewives of Orange County, Tamra received a truckload of stuff from the movers into her new home. Her boyfriend was there to help her unload. He kept opening up the boxes that happened to have her wedding glasses, wedding dress, and old photos in them. Eddie asked her, “Why do you keep all this stuff?”

Tamra defended herself saying it just went straight from the old house into the truck, but she also said you can’t just get rid of all the memories. Eddie aptly responded, “You couldn’t get rid of them if you tried.”

Eddie left to let her deal with her crap on her own, and Tamra wiped a few tears away as she gently placed the wedding glasses into the dumpster.

advantages to hoarding

I just emptied out the small rubbermade box that has been sitting on the floor behind me for more than a week. I also decided I could fill it with the few things I’m allowing myself to keep in storage like Grandma’s jewelry, Great-Grandma’s wooden sleigh, a tiny box my best friend from ages 8-14 bought me in New Zealand … you know, stuff.


I said it was empty, not that I got rid of the stuff.


In the box I found a letter from an old boyfriend, ostensibly written long after we had broken up (maybe 4 years later). In it he spoke about finding lasting friendship and if that were possible in any form other than marriage. His letter was bright, full of humor, misspelled words and bad grammar – exactly what I remember about him. I chose not to recycle the letter and I quickly put it in a folder that contains notes written between me and friends in the 1980s (filed in chronological order). His letter doesn’t belong there, but it was an easy place to stash it.

And that folder contained a letter I had written in 1989 to “Mr. Journal” listing the pros and cons of a potential move to Missouri so my father could marry his now wife. The witty and poorly organized writing of a 14-year-old me further cracked me up. (One of my “cons” for moving was that I would have to go to church more often. And how would I live without my boyfriend at the time who I swore I was in love with – but also my crush at the time with whom I had no real relationship.) I got a few moments of real joy by reading crap that I have saved for more than 20 years and have now placed back onto a shelf.

Add to this, a Fedex truck sighting just interrupted this blog post because I’m awaiting some important documents. I scurried down to the garage to see if a package was left (it wasn’t), and looked into the garage for the first time since some friends used it to store their belongings during a move. D. had warned me that I might be unhappy about how much junk is in the garage. He vastly underestimates my tolerance for stuff. I laughed to myself, “That’s hardly anything. The garage is half-empty.” Second advantage to the hoarder: optimism regarding space’s capacity for holding things.

i come by it honestly

I received the following slightly edited email from my father today. Where I get my tendencies seems obvious to me. I am excluding the section on my inherited tendency to procrastinate (which is what I’m doing right now).

I am so happy that S. is enjoying the doll house! I always wanted to build a similar one but never got around to it myself. It is sad how little we had to pay for it (I think somewhere around $150), considering how many hours the master must have put into it. It was donated to the fundraising auction for the Christian radio station here in L. We have bought three such things from there to date . . . S.’s doll house, the log cabin in the dining area (I think we only paid $35 for it), and a barn, which we gave to the boys last Christmas. They absolutely love that! What are you going to do for a doll house once you get to B? I cannot imagine leaving everything there in A and having to start completely over in a new environment. Moving to Y and then to Z was more stress than I would ever care to do again . . . UNLESS the Lord tells us to do it.