Nothing brings home the fact that you are moving house so well as checking the weather forecast for the place you are going to. This coming week in Wollongong, it will be a bit cloudy with some rain, and cooler than Sydney. Which I had forgotten. Here I am, in a room full of boxes, which Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate once sang was not quite as bad as waiting, but pretty bad (or something to that effect. For Kate, presumably).
I am feeling it. I guess it has only taken more than a dozen moves over less than a dozen years (I have lost count, to be honest; doing a passport application or a security check is a real test of my memory these days) for me to pick up the tell-tale of signs of house-moving-anxiety. I read somewhere that it is in the top, five most stressful things you can do in life (after losing someone you love, and divorce).
One thing that is making moving easier is the way that most of my bills and other contact with the outside world are delivered to me online these days. I realise, each time I make a move, that I have kept my email address and my mobile phone number longer than any physical address since I was a kid of 16, when the relentless moving began.
I have also not got sick this time as I have the past few goes. I think it might be because this time around, I allocated a whole week to doing the packing, rather than trying to do it in and around work. I have been working this week, but I have not had any pressing deadlines to attend to (well, apart from a few tender responses, but somehow they got done.) I have also not got as stressed as I usually do – trying to pack everything in one day, and worrying the whole week about the things yet to get done. Finally, after so many moves, I have learned that: it will all get done; and slow and steady will get us across the line.
I have also learned to buy as many boxes as it takes to make the move one of streamlined cardboard rather than messy, laundry baskets of knick knacks; and to pay for as many hours as are required of a reliable, word of mouth referred, removalist. Too many times have I been burnt by dodgy guys with a truck, dragging out the time it takes to do the move, making me eat my fingernails as I watch my money and my possessions roll away. Last time we moved (about 12 months ago), Sydney City Removalists actually accused me of burning through removalists and then complaining about them on purpose. I was six months pregnant and teary, and my husband was irate. We tried to post a review on True Local, but it was not accepted by the website – another reminder that the Internet is not so much objective as it is monetised. Rather amusingly, the company kept me on their mailing list and we have received a number of emails recently, asking us to recommend them to friends. Not Going To Happen.
I wonder if bubba will take to the move badly. I wonder how someone her age (almost 9 months!) can find closure. When she walks out the door with me of this place, her only home, how will I explain to her that it is for the last time? Will she occasionally remember the grey carpet as she slides along our floorboards back in Wollongong, with a sense memory that makes her look around, startled, wondering where she is? Thankfully I am too tired to speculate too much about this. And also thankfully, wherever I and my husband are, that is where she feels most at home.
And that is the truth of it. When I first moved to NSW, five years ago or so, there was a moment when I crested North Bondi hill aboard a bus, and I looked at the ocean, and homelessness welled in me like the waves below. Not long enough here to have spread roots; not long enough in the previous town to miss it like a home; too long away from Queensland to really regard it as mine. Now I have this little family, these two other people, this baby and this man. And wherever they are, that’s my home. Hat or no hat. Boxes or no boxes. Rather than think about the possibility of them ever not being there, I will snap them in this moment in time with a few words as markers:
Bubba is in bed; I heard her cry out once, then subside, into sleep. My husband is in the kitchen, cooking me dinner with the last of the fridge offerings. And here am I, sitting in a room full of boxes; shoulder muscles too tired to rise very far; heart bleakened at the prospect of moving; encircled, emboldened, imprinted with love.