Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Neither up nor down

When I was a wee lad in Sunday School, the teachers often had us sing an action song "to get the wiggles out" before moving on to the substance of the lessons. One of the favorites was "The Noble Duke of York." This has many variants on both the words and tune, but this is the way I learned it:

Oh, the Noble Duke of York
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up a hill
And he marched them down again.

Now when you're up you're up,
And when you're down you're down.
But when you're only halfway up,
You're neither up nor down.

We would be instructed to stand up on the "up" lines, sit back down on the "down" lines," and sort of half stand up on the "halfway" line.

I don't know whether it was due to subliminal indoctrination from that song or just a natural predisposition, but I've never liked being in between places, on the way from one location to another. I want to either be where I was or where I'm going. Of course I've heard a lifetime of advice from people telling me to enjoy the trip, stop and smell the roses, etc. And I do try. Once in a while I even succeed. But most of the time I revert back to my habitual squirreliness about being neither here nor there, and want to get the journey over with. Even though I'm shorter than average, most people have a hard time keeping up with my walking pace if I go as fast as I'm inclined to go, because I want to be there already.

This is on my mind at the moment because Josie emailed me this morning to ask how the move to North Carolina was going. I dashed off a grumpy reply saying that it sucked. I then started to enumerate the ways in which it sucked, which is what has me on this little tantrum.

I have to sell a bunch of stuff, give away other stuff, and just throw away yet more items. My apartment is in more disarray than it ever has been because of the process of figuring out what to do with everything. I still haven't completely settled on what means of moving the things I'm keeping will be. I can't tell how much will fit in my car and how much I have to ship separately. My bike is all taken apart for shipment so I can't go riding. I don't sleep well because I'm fretting about the thousand and one decisions I have to make and worrying about getting them wrong. I sweat that I'm not going to get everything coordinated and done in the time frame I've set out. (I'm shooting to head out of town February 7th or 8th and arrive in Asheville four or five days after that.) I'm constantly thinking about all the things that might go wrong at the last minute, even with the best-laid plans. There are large expenses to be incurred in shipping, gasoline for a cross-country drive, in paying temporary double rent and utilities, down payments, deposits, fees, etc.--and at the same time my income will drop to zero for a couple of weeks while I get a work space outfitted out east. I have one of my largest-ever consulting jobs waiting to be done, having promised to try to finish it before I move. I don't know if I'll have time or opportunity to get together with friends for any sort of proper good-bye before I'm gone. All in all, I'm just feeling pretty damn sorry for myself, in the most whiny, juvenile, embarrassing, and pathetic way possible.

To anticipate a likely thought going through readers' minds: no, this angst is not reflective of doubt about or resentment for the move itself. I am fully at peace with that. Sure, I'd be happy to be staying put. But I'd also be entirely happy to be in Asheville, in my new apartment, with everything already settled, maybe even with an adopted kitty as a companion (which I can't have where I am), with a lot more space than my current apartment gives me (and ten times nicer to boot), free to get together with Cardgrrl whenever we feel like it. It really is just the disruptive, unsettling, in-between-ness of it all that is gnawing at me all day every day. It's existing in a state of limbo that I hate, being not quite hither and not quite yon.

I think it must be a universal experience that parents teach their kids far more life lessons thoughtlessly, by accident, just in the course of daily life, than they do through the occasional carefully planned chat or activity. (Don't worry. This is going somewhere, and it will all connect back.) My dad's 90th birthday is Friday, and I'll be driving up to Salt Lake City for the weekend for a family get-together. The impending occasion has caused me to reflect on some of the things he taught me in moments that he was probably not intending to be life lessons, and which he likely does not remember as vividly as I do.

He is an inveterate tinkerer. Over my growing-up years, he made a lot of improvements to our modest home. One of the biggest additions was turning the long wall of our family room into bookshelves, storage cabinets, and a window seat. While he was in the middle of that project, which seemed to be taking forever (everything seems to take forever when you're 7), I commented about how much work he was putting into it. He replied, "Yes, but you just get it done, and then you get to enjoy it for a lot longer than it took to do it."

I'm trying to keep that in mind over the next several weeks of chaos and uprooting. (Uprooting--that's an interesting word that popped into my brain there. Like moving a plant to a larger pot so that it has more room to grow.) I just want it to be done so that I can get on with enjoying what awaits me on the other side.


3 comments:

Tim said...

These two post might help you with deciding on what to do with all your stuff. You might ask yourself 'Do I really need more than I can fit in my small car and/or small amount I can ship'?

http://www.theminimalists.com/288/
http://www.theminimalists.com/sentimental/

@Andr0us said...

I'm the same way. There's nothing more stressful than moving. I almost lost my mind when I had to move across town, I can only imagine what its like moving across the country. Good luck sir.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grump,
I feel your pain. I hate moving as well. Maybe you can consider using that Pod shipping service? You can find out what it would cost to use the service and then figure out what the value of your various items are that your are thinking of selling, giving away and throwing out. If it makes sense, just pack it into the Pod and unpack it in Carolina. If it's not worth it, consider it a way to unburden yourself of all of the crap that chains you down! Good luck on the move! I've read your blog for many years and really enjoyed it. Thank you!