You know move-in hell is over when you wake up in the middle of the night and can flex your feet without wincing. For me, that moment came around 4:30 a.m. Pre-dawn light had not yet started filtering through my curtains, so I stood barefoot on the hardwood looking out at the inky scene before me.
There was one box left—magazines, wouldn’t you know—and I’d kicked the empties out into the hallway. There’s something divine about putting your life away ever so neatly. Yesterday, I’d slid staplers and Post-Its into my desk drawers. The day before, I’d divided clothes into piles that now hung in my closet or were tucked into my dresser. My bed was sleep worn and rumpled, but complete. The faint green digits on my alarm clock announced three correct numbers. Just a few hours more of rest before I’d be set loose on the steps—three exhausting wood sets of them—once more.
I have a long history of moving. I’m 26, and I’ve moved three times in the last year and over a dozen times in total. I didn’t grow up in the house I was born in, and I don’t feel like I have a hometown. But even though I’ve been up, down, and around the Mid-Atlantic, I’m still not quite used to the displaced feeling that comes when the build-up is over, the movers are there and gone, and you’re alone with everything you own, all in incredible disarray.
It makes me despondent. I might as well be a ragdoll, tossed among the miscellany I’ve accumulated so far. Thrown in is frustration (how did I gather so much stuff and why did I keep every last ticket stub?), crushing defeat (will the boxes never go away?), and a trace of success (look at all my lovely books!).
Tomorrow—just a few hours more—there are errands to run, boxes to heave, box cutters to wield. But now—it’s almost dawn, or am I imagining the blackbirds stretching their wings?—I can’t see the mess for the darkness. I’ve misplaced the notion that it still feels more like a house than a home. It’s simply where I exist. And now, as my toes grip the floor and the artificial cold seeps into my skin, this existence feels good.