Monday, April 21, 2014

Moving Days Will Soon Be Here: The Ritual of Hello and Goodbye

Move (verb) 1. to go from one place of residence to another; to advance or progress
--Random House Dictionary

Thirty six million Americans, 11.7 percent of the United States population—that’s how many of us will move this year. Move: pick up, pack up, gather up all of our belongings, pile it all up into some type of vehicle and then hit the road for a new place to call home.

Very soon it will be moving season again around here, balmy spring and summer days when we pull into our neighborhood and see the moving vans. Oversized brightly colored trucks sitting in suburban driveways or double parked on cramped city streets. Strong young women and men balancing boxes, carrying photo albums and house plants and family heirlooms into a new place or out of the old place.  I always feel bittersweet, wistful, even sad, when I see someone moving in or someone moving out. In the past few weeks four close friends have let me know that they are moving soon. 

I envy them. Who doesn’t imagine the excitement of packing it all up and embarking upon a brand new life chapter?  But I mourn their loss too.  Moving means things have to change.  Moving means that folks who were close, connected, right next door, are now going away and so that relationship will be different. 

Life moves. Life moves on.

When I was younger I was a serial mover, didn’t stay in any one place for very long.  From my early twenties to mid-forties I moved eleven times between four states, for grad school and seven job changes. That’s a lot of miles, a lot of sticky packing tape and bulky cardboard boxes, a lot of teary goodbyes and anxious hellos, seeing what was once my home fade in the rear view mirror, flying by highway signs which proclaimed “Now Entering!”  Wondering what adventures lay ahead. 

Americans move for lots of reasons, in the dance of exiting and entering, departing and disembarking.  Job changes. Family changes like aging parents or retirement or marriage or divorce.  We move to get a fresh start or to finally settle down, move because the place we’ve lived finally has nothing more to offer us. Move because some shining city calls out with a siren song of hoped for prosperity or the chance to reset life and being again. 

The U.S. census reports that folks from the northeastern U.S. move the least and folks from the wide open west are the vagabonds of our land. The top five states for moving to are Alaska, Vermont, Oregon, Kentucky and Texas.  The top five states for moving from are Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and Ohio.  Who stays put the longest? Those from the bayous and from Bourbon Street in Louisiana, which boats a native born population of almost 80 percent. We Bay Staters are homebodies too: 63 percent of us have never left. Nevadans can’t seem to stay put. Only 24 percent of “Silver State” citizens started out there.

It’s harder for me than it once was to accept this truth of human movement, of friends and family one day just letting me know that they are leaving.  Maybe it is because I am older and change doesn’t seem as good a friend as it once was to me.  Maybe settling in rather than moving on is my natural state now. Maybe a restless spirit is the province of the young and a desire to put down deep roots is the comfort of the old.  Who knows?

Yet I do know this. God did not create human beings in stasis, just resting in place, still.  From the moment homo sapiens stood up and walked on two legs we have been moving. Moving on up.  Moving away from. Moving towards. So as the person who this time is staying in place and watching as the moving van pulls away, I offer a simple prayer and blessing for all my “in motion” friends, the ones soon to depart.

Via Con Dios! Go with God! I’ll miss you, lots. But sometimes? It is time to move.




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