In just over a week, I will move for the second time in thirteen months. My husband, M, has a new job starting in July, so we're packing up. Or rather, we're not. M's job is paying for our move, which means that we can afford to have the movers do our packing for us. We were ecstatic when we realized it wouldn't be us hauling in box after box from the U-Haul store; taping those boxes together; filling them with our clothes, pots and pans, tchotchkes, and over eighteen hundred books; and constantly shifting stacks of boxes around to get at things one just can't do without--like the front door. And we still are. But not doing our own packing has led to something I don't think either of us expected: we don't have enough to do.
Eight days out from moving day, the apartment looks like we'll be staying here for the foreseeable future. Oh, there's been some straightening up, there's been some prepping, so the movers can just whiz through their packing (how did the cabinet under the bathroom sink get into that state anyway?), but anyone who dropped in would never guess that we and all of our things will be gone come the end of the month. Eight days before I moved out of my last apartment, the place was in tatters. You had to negotiate a maze of stacked cardboard boxes to find the refrigerator. Precariously propped bits of my life threatened to throttle you on your way through the living room. If you got to the fridge, there was nothing in it anyway. That I was preparing to graduate from graduate school, submitting my students' final grades, and putting the final touches on our wedding plans only made the whole thing laughably more chaotic.
I wouldn't want to do it that way again, but at least the stress then was visible. It took the form of that pile of papers still needing grading there, this e-mail about flower arrangements here, and all those be-damned boxes everywhere. Now we are living in a limbo land where nothing is permanent and everything is changing, but everything looks just the same as it always has. I can't settle into my books or my writing, and it seems that even with so little that really needs to be done, I can always think of one more thing I should really be doing.
And that, really, is the crux of the problem. With too little work to do, I have too much time to think (and rethink and rethink again) about all the little details that I almost surely got right the first time I thought of them. And all that rethinking leaves scant room in the little grey cells for real contemplation of leaving M and my first apartment together, of leaving the South after six years here, of heading for "home." And that may be the most unsettling bit of all--the sense that hurrying up to wait will mean forgetting to notice these last few days as they go by. A dear childhood friend of mine would say, "Breathe. Think feet."
Maybe I should add it to my to-do list.