Unwritten TGB Blog Rules Revealed

Moving Into Limbo

category_bug_journal2.gif My cross-country move from Portland East to Portland West is – well, moving right along. The van will be here next Wednesday, just six days now, and boxes are being packed in good time.

Years ago, before smokers became pariahs, there was a joke – I don't remember if it was family or cultural – something about selling a car when the ashtray got full. A similar thought applies to moving – it is the best way I know of ridding oneself of junk.

My biggest difficulty is that in a couple of cases, zealous eagerness to finish a room left me without a kitchen tool, a certain sweater or, in one instance, a tape measure I needed. Not a big deal.

Nor is my part in the move. I have mentioned that I've done this many times and the distance makes no difference. Across the country or across town, every item owned must be touched, appraised for its worth to keep or not, then wrapped, placed in a box and sealed so that the contents won't rattle, shift or break. Tedious, but not hard.

My thoughts run in two directions: on the one hand, I wonder how, even with more than 30 big, black bags of trash and other detritus gone, I came to own so much. On the other, I ask if this – these plain brown packing boxes - is all there is to my life.

As the drawers, cupboards and closets are emptied and my personal stamp on this living space disappears, I am in a kind of limbo, feeling less attached to one place but not yet to another. On the day the van leaves next week, Ollie the cat and I will move into a hotel – by definition, anonymous and temporary.

In addition, I saw my new home in Lake Oswego only twice so aside from the obvious – beds, sofa, dining table, desk - I can't envision well where everything will go because I have forgotten the details of the rooms. I don't know how I will fit and move around in that space.

None of this is new; I have felt it in past moves. It is just disconcerting for a short while.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, polkadot22: Units of Time


Ronni, your new place looks very similar to the condo we rented in Florida last January. I loved the layout. We were on the bottom floor of a 2 level. If we were to sell our house, that's the type of condo we would want, as it suited us both fine.

You will have a ball decorating your new home. Can't wait to read stories about people you meet, things you are doing.

Thirty bags? You did one huge toss! Good for you. Feels light when you travel light. More room for you at your new destination. Take care.

It takes courage to move (by choice) into limbo, to remain there as long as required, and then, to move on. I do this twice yearly on a reduced scale, as a dual citizen shifting addresses from one side of the pond to the other. My inventorying, packing, and shedding pale when compared with your total wrap. Soon I'll be entering Ben Gurion and exiting Harstfield (and later, the reverse), and already I'm feeling those limbo butterflies, mine and by association, yours. Traveling mercies to all.

William Bridges, in his classic book 'Transitions', described every change in our lives as a three-stage thing. first an ending, then something called 'the neutral zone' and lastly a new beginning. It's a bit like flying from New York to Sydney and having to suffer through a long wait at LAX.
Time in the neutral zone can vary, and the feelings can range from a mild sense of disconnection to total disorientation. But be it long or short, easy or difficult, it's an inevitable stage in the process.
I've always found Bridges' analysis really useful.
Anyway, enjoy the hotel. Great that you found one that will take Ollie too.

I can tell that you're not a card-carrying engineer. Before moving, I always have a layout of where all of the furniture goes - on paper.

Ronni, you'll be having Christmas in July as you open boxes. What an adventure!

How's Ollie doing through all this? Very disorienting for a cat.

As has been pointed out, moving is an ending, a time of being in limbo and a new beginning.

After the van leaves and you move into a hotel do enjoy the fact that a maid will make your bed and you have the freedom to do as you wish. Enjoy the 'limbo' time and rest up for the work waiting in Oregon.

Wishing you a safe journey and an exciting new beginning.

I'm definitely in the neutral zone - less engaged here in Maine each day and not yet engaged in Oregon. I'm not disoriented, just mildly disconcerted.

Cop Car...
Nope - no layouts. I'm pretty good at judging how things work in a room. And if they don't - well, I'll figure it out later...

So far Ollie the cat is taking it in stride - even enjoying it. He's been able to jump up on closet shelves and other high places that were filled with stuff before.

But he's not going to be happy come next week when I shove him in his carrier for the trip to the hotel. Or a few days later, when I drug him for the airplane trip. Or for the two days living in my brother's home with two other cats and a dog.

But with everything else that needs to be done, all I can tell him is, suck it up. We'll be settled again before long.

As one who has made your kind of move in the past few years I can say that the best part is the paring down, the 30-40 bags, even the piano going in the trash when absolutely no one wanted it. But they wanted my motorbike and the spare dryer. Says a lot about today's society, n'est pas?
A tip on the cat, I've moved many cats in my life and my grandmother's tip always paid off - when they are discombulated: butter their paws. It worked every time for me and assimilated them to any environment.

Yeah, that in between is hard. But your reward is living in an exciting, new place and house!

The selling the car when the ash tray was full was here in Oz too. Around here, it usually referred to Rolls Royce owners.

Telling Ollie to "suck it up" is hilarious. Don't you know you "can't herd cats" :)

and I love the "butter his paws" suggestion for Ollie.

I have known troubling situations when I would have liked someone to "butter MY paws"

Ronni, I am thinking of you. I find you so wise in your moving. I remember swearing and hating every minute of it, but then we Europeans are not used to moving the way you are. I moved more times in the two years I spent in the States than I did in my entire life.

I remember you wondering between Portland, Maine and Oregon before your last move, and finally, you made it back to Oregon. Will be thinking of you in the next weeks and wishing you well.

Suck it up? You told Ollie to suck it up?! That is funny to me, but Feather here next to me is horrified. She thinks that Ollie's worse time will be at your brother's house, in large part because it comes after the long flight and he will be tired. She hopes Ollie knows how to meditate!

Speaking of seem like the moving guru.

Well, you have a lot of time to figure out where you want your things after you get there. I took photos of the rooms in this house before we moved, so I'd have some idea of where to place things.

You inspire me.


WWW's advice re buttering paws encourages me to share something that I do when my own cats have had to endure a trip/stay in a "cage". (Everyone probably already does as I do but....) I place a large towel on the bottom of the enclosure that bears the scent of the cat and me. It sooths the cat a small bit.

I do love your own advice (suck it up) to Ollie!

I used to go to auctions and also experienced that feeling as I picked over the estates, "Is this all a live adds up to?"

Strong men with tattoos would toss every type of household item into boxes -- without the careful wrapping you describe -- coasters from Hawaii, a vintage potato peeler, half-used balls of twine, in grabbag cartons for sale.

Once I saw someone's carefully crafted butterfly collection set out in the wooden-framed glass boxes. This presented quite an intriguing mystery to wonder about that person's life, so centered on a passion.

The detritus always seems oddly lifeless in that the shabby auction warehouse, without the person's energy to animate this mere stuff. For we are surely more than the things with which we have surrounded ourselves.

I have a photo in my apartment of the belongings of a nomadic African family. Everything is strapped to a two-poled sling, such as those the Eskimos trundled behind them across the frozen North. Imagine being able to pack every blessed thing one needs into a hammock.

I, too, have been cheered up by your move,Ronni. Sometimes I think I am too old to get out of a place where I don't like living, but you make me think that someday I may be able overcome my upside-down loan. My reason is exactly like yours -- I want to be able to give up my car when the time comes and walk to the stores.

"Suck it up Ollie" sure struck a chord with some of us here at TGB.

Many times I need to tell myself to "suck it up". Life does get so tedious and I get overwhelmed easily.

So here goes:


Ronni - I wish you the best and hope you have a great move. Thank you for the note about my essay for the elder story place - it made my day. B'shalom!!!

Last October 22, at about 4:45 A.M., we were awakened by a college girl pounding on our door and all the others and yelling, "Wake up! Get out! There's a fire!"

It was a bad fire but she saved lives by alerting everyone quickly. (Her smoke alarm had not even gone off yet; she woke up to go to the bathroom and saw that her couch was on fire.) Also, we are fortunately located about a block from the fire station! No one was hurt, not even a pet. Some people lost all their possessions. My disabled husband and I were very fortunate to be aside from the main path of the fire, so we had the time I need to get him out of bed and into the wheelchair with the hydraulic patient lift, and to get our cats into their carriers. We lost almost nothing, only a few things that got damp.

We were relocated temporarily into a too-small, nonaccessible unit while an accessible one was prepared. During that time, we were interviewed by a reporter from the UNC college paper, who asked how we were dealing with the disruption.

I said, "Probably a lot better than younger people whose first major disruption this is!" To us, given how very lucky and blessed we had just been, it was really just "Here we go again."

That's what your laid-back attitude towards moving reminded me of.

Your courage to part with your books opened a floodgate in my apartment. A quick review of shelves revealed that some books I had not opened in decades and would be unlikely to do so in the next millenia.

A trip to Goodwill followed shortly. The first 40 tossed into containers with my blessings.

Somehow these books, even unconsulted all this while seemed to represent parts of my life that I cherished.

My library shifted over the decades from English lit to 60's spiritual voodoo, to sociology for my researching, and then to psychology, my latest career. What I will not part with are books on art, and favorite authors. They stay.

Thanks for your book clearing incentives. God speed. Joan

And you know you will be fine. I, too, have moved many times and felt the limbo you feel now. I think it's exciting! The prospect of what's to come. LOVE that feeling. If I don't 'speak' with you again before you leave, I hope the move goes smoothly (but you KNOW you'll land on your feet if it doesn't) and can't wait to share your moving-in experience! All the best to you, Ronnie!

Even when you realize that you can’t do everything you used to, it is hard to give up the freedom to do whatever you want.

Hi Ronni--woke up thinking of you this morning, and wow! now I know why....

Moving always makes me cry. Even when it's a good move, I cry. It's leaving old things behind and not knowing what's ahead of me. Although I think the last time I moved--because I was moving into the type of apartment I always wanted--wasn't such a bad experience.

With me, it's not always moves that make me get rid of things. I have a ton of Barbie dolls that I collected during a very sad time in my life, and now I have to get rid of them. So, sometimes the "move" is as much internal as it is external--hence going over every single item and getting rid of stuff.

So, internally, something's probably also shifting. and that's not a bad thing. (although I'm sure Ollie's not too pleased about the whole thing.

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