Thursday, March 19, 2009

Moving On

I’m moving. Of course, this is supposed to one of the five most stressful life changes. I’m also getting married just before my oldest child leaves for college to a man who changed jobs last month—so we’ve got a world of stress going at our house right now.

When I think about it, maybe the moving part of this life change should be the least of my worries. I do have a lot of experience. My family moved seven times before I graduated from high school, and since then, I’ve added to the number. I have gotten pretty good at the pure logistics of the job. It’s awful and back breaking, but that’s not what is difficult.

What’s really tough for me is the shifting—the requirement to go through all the things in my house. It should be easy, right? Take the chafing dish that’s sitting on my dining room table: 1960’s triangular serving dish, a multi-colored Mondrian design with a little stand for sterno. Should I pack it to go to the new house or does it need to go to Goodwill? I try to imagine how I might use it, and I can’t, but then I recall that this was my grandmother’s dish, the one that she used for oyster dressing on Christmas Eve and how there was at one time a matching platter that my grandfather broke while carving the roast at my brother’s first birthday celebration. And then I remember how my mother was all excited that day about one thing or another and poured my dad’s after-dinner coffee into his salad bowl, an act that has now become one of those stories that we share in our family over and over even though it is not really that funny, unless of course, you were there and were six at the time. I’ll end up keeping the dish, of course, but all of this reverie takes hours. Yesterday, I came upon a tiny jean jacket that was my son’s. One look at the embroidered airplanes, the little cuffs that belonged to the long-armed manboy who’s off to college in a few months, and I was off to the movies, watching a montage of his childhood as sappy as anything in “The Way We Were.”

Of course, it is just this process, this quest, that is one of the most important parts of writing—this business of finding objects in the physical world that somehow signify (even if we don’t know exactly what they signify and have to write all morning to get even a glimmer of an idea about it). I will just be happy to get all packed up and back to my desk, where I don’t have to wrap, pack and haul every memory.

Lynn York is the author of The Piano Teacher (2004) and The Sweet Life (2007). She’ll live in Carrboro, NC for another month or so and then move a mile or two into Chapel Hill. Her website is

1 comment:

Keetha said...

I think the reflecting and wandering down memory lane takes at least as long as the packing itself. Good luck!

(I'd have totally kept that dish, too.)