Essay and Reflection


by Jay Kerner

Jay Kerner

Moving is hard stuff. Physics tells us that an object at rest stays at rest, while an object in motion will often be lost or dropped on your foot.
You tell yourself it will be worth it. Bigger space. Better layout. Whatever your motivation.

Maybe it will be everything you want, but you won’t realize that for a while. You’ll be too busy looking for your socks and the missing remote control.
While physically and emotionally exhausting, moving does serve as an excellent winnowing exercise. Move the good stuff. Toss the crap.

We started with the photos. Our own lifetime accumulation plus both of our mothers’. We began with a dozen giant plastic totes full. We got it down to roughly half that over a month. I couldn’t believe how many pictures we had of animals in zoos. (Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!) We began adding up the film and processing costs for all these snapshots and had to stop. It was ridiculous!

Then we started on the photos of people we couldn’t identify. Sorry, folks, we don’t know; you gotta’ go.

Then we got to the school pictures of distant relatives. Sorry kids, you didn’t make the cut. I hate to break it to you, but you’ll never hang on the new refrigerator.
Finally, we plowed into the vacation pictures. Mountains, lakes, bridges, churches. The vast majority had no reference to when or where it was taken.
Out they went.

Let’s talk furniture. If you’re like us, you probably started your “adult” life with a collection of family hand-me-downs. The old sofa from somebody’s basement. The table and mismatched chairs from somebody else’s garage. Over the years, you’ve likely replaced much of it with mass-produced crap made of cheaper materials but in a modern style. Later, you developed a new appreciation for “Mid-Century Modern” and replaced much of what you threw out years ago with overpriced versions of the same things from antique malls.

Moving makes you choose.

When looking at any new space, the first thing you do is place your most important pieces, and work backward from there. It’s amazing how you can turn loose of things you once cherished when there’s no place to put them. Of course, some choose to just stack like items. That’s how you get a TV on top of a TV on top of a TV.
Décor is a big deal. It’s how we separate ourselves from the animals. Décor is how you make your space uniquely your own. And animals don’t shop at Pier 1.
Hanging your objects d’art is an art in itself. Everything color matched and spaced perfectly. Or you can do like us and use whatever nails were already in the wall.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to be moving into new construction and get to break-in virgin walls and floors. But most of us are inheriting somebody else’s cracks, stains, and imperfections. That’s where the creative placement of your things hides previous boo-boos.

And unless you are simply relocating across the street, moving involves relearning many of your life’s routines. Where you get gas. Where you get coffee. Which exit you take off the interstate. It’ll take some time to reprogram yourself to your new location. I’ll let you know how long it takes once I stop driving to my old house before smacking my forehead and turning around.

Finally, moving is an opportunity to use some of those things you’ve saved in the junk drawer. The odd nuts and bolts. The orphan “L” bracket left over from a project ten years ago. Trust me, there is nothing as satisfying as finding the perfect use for one of those things. Especially if your wife questioned why you were saving it in the first place. It’s like revenge, “Ha! I told you I’d need it!” A dish best served cold.

No, moving isn’t for the faint-hearted. Even with a professional “mover,” it’s a lot of work. Some people plant roots early and never move again. Others live more of a nomadic existence, swapping houses multiple times in their adult lives.

However you do it, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, except maybe some other home.
Has anybody seen my sock?

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