Yesterday I helped Elisa move into her new house, and I loved every minute of it. I thrilled to see the moving van pull up and the boxes fill the corners. I took control of the kitchen, unpacking plates and pasta and spices and organizing every drawer and cabinet. Most people hate nearly every aspect of moving, but not me. It makes me high as a kite.
My family moved when I was 2, 7, 13, and 15. Of the moves that I remember (the last three), I always looked forward to the sudden change of scenery: new room, new house, new street, new town, new self. Especially new self.
A move felt…fresh, as though all the things that defined or limited me were blown to bits. Of course, there were plenty of dark days on the other side; being an under-developed, friendless, new kid who wears terribly unfashionable clothing in 7th grade is a real bitch. But there was always that dreamy phase when I was filled with giddy anticipation and a sense of possibility.
My mom clearly took pleasure in nesting, arranging the furniture and wall hangings in different configurations, hatching plans for the yard. While the moves were always dictated by my dad’s job, she seemed to embrace them and enjoy the artistry involved in creating a new home.
My older sister, on the other hand, hated these moves and viewed them as traumatic betrayals. I think of the human-shaped mandrake root, which according to legend, screams when it is pulled out of the ground. My sis still speaks of the moves with bitterness, although she’s lived in a dozen places since adulthood, by her own choosing.
Even now, when my life seems burdensome, I daydream of moving.