We’ve moved. Not far, just around the corner in fact, but we may as well have emigrated to the moon, such was the level of admin and boxes and general chaos involved. But we’re in now and the new flat is slowly starting to feel like home. The rest just feels like the results of a jumble sale I attended whilst drunk and bought everything in sight, but we’ll get there.
Next time we move (which will be NEVER by the way. We’re just going to have to stay here forever), there are a few things I’d like to remember in order to make the whole process easier on my mind, so here they are. Writing this means I’m not currently doing unpacking, as I should be, and for such an escape I’m very grateful. I hope reading this provides a distraction from whatever much more worthwhile activity you’re supposed to be doing too.
1. All being well, you won’t look back
I felt quite emotional about leaving our old flat. It was the first place we’d owned, the flat we left that September afternoon and headed off to the Cotswolds to get married, the safe space I could never wait to get back to after work or socialising or doing a big shop. To suddenly step outside of those walls felt risky – what if we didn’t feel as happy elsewhere? What if the next owner didn’t appreciate the perfect arch of the ceiling above the lounge like I did? What would next door’s cat do without me? Who would she ignore now?
But the time comes to move on and though it’s laborious and dusty and, at times, downright soul destroying, the process of packing up is actually rather helpful. You’re so happy when you’ve finally got all of your belongings out the door and into the van that you’re more than ready to get going and never look back. Also, if you’ve given the whole thing the appropriate amount of thought, you’re probably moving somewhere you like and that will enable your life to keep moving in the desired direction. And for that reason, it makes sense to just keep looking forward with optimism, and only to look back with gratitude for what a happy time you’ve had until now. (Mitsy Cat, call me!)
2. You really should do a clear-out before you pack up, but don’t beat yourself up when you inevitably don’t
Looking through the madness of belongings we brought with us to our new home I am reminded of the level to which ‘F*CK IT, JUST PUT IT IN A BOX’ became our home move mantra by the end. You imagine that you’ll spend the weeks before you go sorting through every item you own and only bringing with you the most vital and useful of belongings. But this is not reality, or it certainly wasn’t for us. Mind you, I did try. I will remind my husband forever of the fact that when I suggested we get rid of anything we didn’t need before the move, he said: “I want everything I own“, as if to suggest that I was the sole hoarder among us. I can confirm now that we’ve moved and are surrounded by boxes which may as well have been labelled ‘WHY WOULD ANYBODY EVER BUY THIS’ that he no longer stands by this statement. (But I don’t mention it. Much.)
3. The good news is, you’ll still be you when you get there
The building itself is only part of the reason you’re happy where you live. The roof and walls and floor are critical, of course, but it’s you that makes that house a home. The relationship you have with yourself and whoever you live with. The life experiences you prepare for, recover from, and dream of beneath that roof. The friends you cater for, laugh with, and console on the sofa over cake and tea and the sound of a colours wash spinning in the machine in the background. That’s where the real happiness lies, and that can be recreated anywhere, I’m sure of it.
4. The bad news is, you’ll still be you when you get there
I fell into the same old trap once again. You know, the one where you believe that in this new house you’ll be a tidy person, and in this house you’ll own less stuff, and in this place you’ll be a calmer, more together and focused person. Guess what? A property doesn’t just change your personality overnight. It’s nice that we’re now trying to cut down on the level of crap we own, but we’re never going to be minimalists. I’ve got a box upstairs especially for old greetings cards, which also contains a leaflet I made during A-level French explaining how to conjugate verbs. You know. JUST. IN CASE. I’m not good at letting go and that is OK. Je ne regrette rien.
5. That miscellaneous box of wires is going to follow you around for the rest of your life. Just accept it
I don’t know what most of them are even for. Some of them are ethernet cables; I believe we have about 300,000. There are also approximately 250 European plug adapters in there too because HEAVEN FORBID we should actually manage to remember to pack one when we go on holiday and miss out on the opportunity to purchase yet another at the airport. As for the rest, your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that they have followed us from flat to flat for the past nine years untouched, except by our fear that they might one day come in handy. If you came here looking for the very definition of a first world problem then I think you just found it.
6. Nobody knows what’s around the corner
Change is scary, I’m never not afraid of it. Be it the small, such as a new brand of orange squash or the suggestion that we should go out on a Monday night. Or the big, like a change of address, or a new local cat to make friends with (it’s going extremely well so far with this one, BTW). But life wouldn’t be half as interesting without change. We simply couldn’t move on without it.
My dad has said to me each time we’ve bought a new home to remember that there will definitely be something wrong with it that we don’t yet know about. That’s just the way it works. So what matters is that we like the place enough to endure the cost and the admin that comes along when we discover what it is. And it’s strong advice.
You never know what’s going to happen, all you can do is make what feels like the right decision based on the information in front of you, and then move forward without regret. And just as you don’t know what trouble might be around the corner, you never know what fresh joy is waiting for you either. The only way to find out is to risk it.