I’ve moved across the country more than I care to admit, however, I wouldn’t trade my travels for the world. There’s a certain beauty and freedom that’s associated with getting out and living somewhere new. Embracing the unknown. It builds great character but naturally, it isn’t always easy.
With that said, I’m working on my 13th cross country move, this week. I believe my total tally for moving is around 60 at this time and I’m not even 30 years old. Packing the car for a cross country move, canceling utilities, negotiating deals on moving trucks and strategically maneuvering boxes in to a Uhaul are as mundane of tasks to me as sorting a sock drawer. But when I hit the road with no plan of return, I feel the greatest sense of adventure.
I can feel the anxiousness of my peers when they hear I am leaving, but I do not feel it organically. They worry if things will be “OK”. Generally I’m met with kind wishes such as “best of luck!” or concern of my wellbeing “you must have so much on your mind, Chloe”. Others simply do not understand why a person would leave, no matter the reason.
I’ve learned timing is key when announcing your exit. If I let it out too soon, I will endure weeks of “please don’t go!” and if I let it out too late, then I’m a self acclaimed asshole. Goodbye is never the easiest thing to do but I have experienced hundreds of goodbyes. I generally plan a dinner for “the last hoo-rah” but I’ve come to find I that I do not participate very well in the emotional agitation goodbye seems to bring about. I prefer to keep my emotions at bay, at least for the moment. Tears cried on my shoulder make me uncomfortable. I’m honestly envious of the beautiful people surrounding me that can just feel what they feel right here, right now, at this table. I smile and lend my best effort to those in need “It’s going to be alright! We will see each other again!” I say cheerfully, trying to keep the mood light. It is a pretty weak attempt, and I know it. I do not pretend to be made of stone, but it is easier to push that pain down and pretend it doesn’t exist. I am often surprised at how I can handle this with ease. I’m a veteran at goodbyes but I have to be mindful that for some this is a fresh wound, while others will share the excitement.
There is a moment that hits me like it’s the first time, every time I move. It is the morning of take off. The truck is packed, the house is clean and I feel yet another set of cold, silver, house keys leave my fingers. The reality that I am leaving, seems to only become real to me right now. My hand is on the car door and I think to myself “is this really happening? Wait..I..Oh my God I’m moving again..”
I breathe. I look over at my husband in the big moving truck, he gives a cheerful smile and a thumbs up that he’s ready to go. But he knows. He knows his princess has been holding it together, he knows it will come.
I smile at him, nod and pull the handle on the car door to get in. My stomach rises in to my chest like a cold ball, my throat swells up and I swallow back down the reality of this moment. I start the ignition, put my latte in the cup holder and adjust the temperature of the car. Silently, I drive in to the blue of the morning.
Driving away before the sun comes up gives me a sense that some how I have gracefully slipped away. The ones I love are just barely waking up and I have done us all a favor by leaving before they have had their first cup of coffee. I have slipped out before I can find just one last minute to hug them goodbye.
Twenty minutes on the road, my stomach is clenched and my heart is heavy while I think, marinate and reminisce. Then my throat gives way and I can feel it coming. The gasps of a hard cry are demanding to be released – I cannot suppress it any longer, I cannot be tough another second. The tears, my God, the tears – they flow. That happy face, the one that says I have it all together and “goodbye is just a part of life” – the face that convinced you “I’m going to be alright” – it breaks, revealing every ounce of love I have for them and this place.
My chest starts to spasm and I start to take in gasps of air. Tears stream down my cheeks and I can hardly see the road, I have to pull over. I wonder if this time I’m going to throw up again, I’ve been here before. My thoughts begin to race. The joy of a new adventure and the pain of leaving what I know, are intermingled. It’s a flood of mixed emotions that fills every cell in my body.
“This will pass. You’re doing the right thing. This will pass. Let it out.” I tell myself over and over. It feels good to cry like this, it reminds me I am human. That I love, therefore I feel, and feeling is good. So I wait till it is over.
Telling myself that I’m OK eventually soothes my soul. I wipe my eyes and look up at my husband who has also pulled over and come to my emotional rescue. He saw it coming and he holds me. He doesn’t have to feel the same, he doesn’t even have to understand, yet I feel comforted. My best friend is here, I’m going to be alright. I’m reminded of how fragile I truly am and I’m ever so grateful for it.
The sun starts to warm the earth and I get back in to the drivers seat. I pick up my latte which warms my fingers now damp from my tears. The strong, creamy taste of espresso feels like home to me. It comforts my heart, reminding me that life is a journey. This life is about experiences. We are privileged to experience love and friendship – to cross paths. I am privileged. I’m reminded that personal growth happens at the edge of your comfort zone. Ironically, I feel refreshed and content… I’m ready for this new chapter now. My mind is clear. I am loved and they are loved by me. I am honored to be able to see the world. In this moment, I send out my sweetest goodbyes and my gratitude to all that have blessed my last adventure. I watch the sun as it kisses the morning dew off the grass and I crack the window breathing in the smell of the new world I’m traveling in to. This is going to be a beautiful day.