When Life Feels Transient
I never expected to be this transient.
I moved to Colorado at 21 and tried to settle into my one-bedroom space. I unpacked my boxes, filled up the drawers of my desk, arranged books on shelves.
Then I met Grant. Within a year we were writing our own vows, pressing gold bands over our knuckles to stay on fingers forever. I moved into a new apartment, one with room for two people and a vase of white flowers arranged in a wedding bouquet.
It’s been more than two years since that sweet August day and we’ve moved three times since then. I’m on intimate terms with the feeling of being unsettled—intimate but not endeared. I dislike moving boxes more than ever now.
Our newest home was offered with shockingly low rent. It was an offer that would allow us to save up a down-payment for a mortgage one day. Lest you think there’s a reason it’s so cheap—the neighborhood is beautiful and the entire southern wall is windows with long white drapes. This place is marvelous. Yet when we settled into the small bedroom-off-the-kitchen on our second evening, my husband rolled over and said, “I still feel unsettled.”
“I know, me too.”
“It’s like wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time,” he mused.
“No matter how comfortable they are, they’re just not the same.” I continued his thought, “and when you go to line them up next to your old ones at the end of the day you just have a moment of ugh.” I grunted emphatically.
“Yes. That’s the feeling.” We stared at the low ceiling together, commiserating the newness of the impeccable cottage we now called home.
Despite the excitement of unpacking and settling into a new place, my tendency is to be frustrated and bitter for weeks surrounding a move. It’s easy to get caught up in missing what I no longer have. I romanticize the yard from our old home—in my mind it is lush and green even though in reality it was too dry and prickly to walk barefoot on—but wasn’t it better than this brick patio space? I miss the white walls that we’ve exchanged for beige, even though we couldn’t hang anything on those walls without asking our landlord to pound in the nails (something I was too shy to do the entire duration of our stay.)
Something in me rebels against that old angst this week. Instead of trying to find the box with the dishes in them, I buckle Erik into our stroller and set out to find the park. I find myself walking a lot in the first few days, chatting back to Erik’s babbled syllables while we explore the neighborhood. I find a Little Free Library with a red brick holding the glass doors closed. There’s an orange-sided café on a shady residential corner that I make note of, eager to visit later. I find a coffee shop with lights strung over the wide patio, two parks with toddler play areas and a long walking trail through a grove of old Cottonwood trees. The unsettled feelings begin to dissipate.
This has been my strategy the last two times I’ve moved—explore, find the comfort zones. We humans talk a lot about the magic that happens outside the comfort zone. But honestly, moving is uncomfortable enough as it is. Who wants to try something big and brave when they had to eat out of Tupperware using a stack of boxes as a table?
I think this period is exactly suited to finding the spaces and things that can help me relax. I’m braver facing a pile of packing tissue when I have a good coffee in my hand. It’s easier to let my baby boy get his wiggles out climbing up to the toddler slide than running around while I unpack fragile items.
It helps to get to know the neighborhood too. Find the best coffee. Locate the park or the running trail. Find the nearest grocery store—it will come in handy if you run out of comfort food before you run out of boxes. Get to know your house too. Rearrange if you don’t strike the magic furniture layout on the first time. I dragged our wheeled coffee table back and forth between two locations multiple times yesterday. I finally decided I’d give it a few days of consideration. Also I was too sore to move it again.
I’ve realized moving means I need to give myself lots of grace. Be gentle. We can’t afford to eat a lot of meals out but we splurge on paper plates and microwave food; we get easy things. There is a stack of canned chicken in my cupboard because I didn’t think I could put in the effort of cooking this week. It was a great idea until I realized that our can opener was in the very bottom of a box behind several other piles of boxes. I went to the neighborhood grocery store and bought a can opener.
Each day our sweet little cottage feels a bit more like a favorite pair of shoes. We’re starting to like the coffee table, and I finally unearthed some of our dishware today. A book of Instagram photos has found a place on the end table. Some of the kitchen items have found their final resting places. I even invited a friend to join me here this weekend, so we can walk to get coffee together. This cottage is slowly becoming a home. Maybe this little house and I just needed a chance to take things slow.
Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.
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