Archive for February 2011

Perceptions of Time

February 8, 2011

Stress has a way of turning Time into a yo-yo. It speeds up and slows down at intervals, irregular ones that leave your guts in a knot.

Going through a relocation involves a lot of “hurry up and wait,” a term I’ve rarely used since my tree planting days. In this case, hurry up and get your house ready for the market….wait for it to sell. Hurry up and decide where you want to live in the new town or city….wait for the right opportunity to make an offer on a place. Hurry up and say goodbye to your friends…wait for the pain of departure to swell before ebbing in your heart.

While all this waiting is going on, here’s what I’m doing with my time:
Writing in the mornings while my two older children are in school and the baby sleeps. Spending time with friends in the afternoons and some evenings, quality time with my family in between, engaging in long talks with my husband. We’re trying to keep our course and envision what our goals are, so that we don’t become swept away in this relocation. We don’t want to look back and realize we allowed it to be completely out of our control. We see the value in still living, enjoying our time together and with friends, even as we wait.

But there’s something about not being able to visualize any part of your own future that is more terrifying than thrilling. This time around, we are having to leave before our house sells. Before figuring out where we’re going to live when we get there.

So what am I really doing with my time? I’m FREAKING OUT. We have packers booked to come in less than a week. Great, they’ll do all the work for me, of packing my house, and I’m glad for that. But where is all our stuff going to go? Into storage. For how long? WE DON’T KNOW. So, while this would be sorta okay if it was just my husband and I, we’d have our clothes, some gear – snowboards, running shoes, bathing suits – with us. But with three kids, including a baby who is growing out of sleepers on a weekly basis, it’s a little more complicated.

So here we go, we’re planning on packing the truck (thank goodness for the pickup with hard top my husband insists on keeping in his life), and making a two week journey from Thompson, Manitoba to St. John’s Newfoundland. In February. Are you kidding me?

Nope. This is for real.

I’ve booked a few things – hotel here in town for the last night when our beds will be loaded on the moving truck. My son’s last eye appointment to find out if his prescription is still the same. Cancelled the phone. Changed our insurance to the less coverage, higher price that is a consequence of leaving a home vacant and moving away.

Where to have our mail forwarded to is another matter. I know, I know, it’ll have to be a General Delivery address in St. John’s. And I know, I know, we aren’t really going to be homeless in a destitute sort of a way, but we are going to be homeless in a practical sort of a way. And what school will my daughter be able to attend while we’re living out of suitcases in hotels until we find a rental, and wait for our house here to sell?

Ah, the suitcases. In my nightmares last night, our giant suitcase tormented me, opening it’s floppy lid and spilling out random essentials – toothbrushes, baby clothes, toddler clothes, girl clothes, man’s underwear, my pj’s, as well as flashlights, books, papers – that I scrambled to retrieve from behind a worn hotel dresser and off the dusty hotel t.v.

What I’m really doing, is giving myself a pep talk every morning so that I can turn a brave face towards my children as I clean up the cereal they’ve spilled all over the floor. Trying to forget that I woke up my whole family last night rummaging angrily in drawers and cupboards, trying to find the children’s advil and Vicks for my son, who couldn’t sleep because of a stuffed up nose, cursing the fact that I can’t find anything in my own house ever since it’s been ‘tidied’ for showings, and hating the fact that we have to live like this, displaced already before we’ve even left.

I decide every day that I can make this hard on all of us – by complaining about the fact that it’s difficult enough to stay afloat with laundry, meal planning and kids’ activities without also having to pack for a journey of undetermined length. Or easy – feel excited for the adventure of it all. I can’t change how I feel (did I mention I’m FREAKING OUT?!?!), but I am learning to have a little control over the expression of those feelings (except in the middle of the night when all I want to do is snuggle back in bed with my nightmares). I’m learning to use that great gift of Free Will we humans have, to surmount the obstacles before me, choose my own destiny, and all the rest of those magnificent terms we use to describe greatness.

Today’s pep talk: Bins, Carrie. Pack bins. Leave the unmanageable giant suitcase for the packers.

My husband called me this morning to ask how I’m doing ( a little afraid of the answer, after my rampage in the night). We have these conversations frequently these days, and they always end in….giggles (as an aside, though, I should add that it’s not all a laughing matter, and I was relieved last week after talking with some other friends who are also going through upcoming relocations, to discover we all agree that fighting with your spouse seems to be yet another side effect of the inherent stress involved).

So my husband asked how I was doing today, and I couldn’t answer him except to say: “Are we really moving to Newfoundland in February?” As soon as we’d finished laughing at and with each other over the phone, he suddenly had to go. Time sped up while I rushed to rescue the baby from a hungry belly. Time slowed down as the baby fell asleep and I began typing these words. And speeds up again as I look over at my To Do list and wonder, guts in a knot (part excitement, part fear), at our elusive future.