Redivide Me

I have an essay in the latest issue of Redivider, out this week.

It’s about relocating from Minnesota to California, about being a serial mover, but also about moving on.

Here’s a little snippet of “Dog Days of Winter.”

 

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Even Lea looks perplexed. "What's with all these boxes?"

Only then, sitting there on the floor, waiting for the thumping in my chest to subside, did the light finally flicker on:  my goodbyes were catching up to me.

I’d come down with a flu, lost my voice.  In the last couple of weeks I’d had lunch or drinks or dinner with this friend or that — neighbors, tennis partners, college peers, book club — for my big send-off to the west coast.  No matter what we said, all good intentions and kind words aside, I knew, even as I offered my last hug and wave, I’d never see most of them again.  These farewell tours were exhausting.  I envied my brothers and my family – those who’d never left the place of their birth – in this.  What would it be like, I wondered, to forever be surrounded by the people you liked or loved?  To never even change your zip code?  To return, time and again, to the house you grew up in, park in the same spot, sit in the same chair, talk about the same old things?  In a more practical sense, what would it be like to see the same doctor or dentist, year over year?  To pay taxes in the same state every April 15?  To send your children to the school you went to.

Sitting there, voiceless, on the closet floor with my dog, I realized I couldn’t even bring myself to go see Ned, my homeopathic doctor, who would surely have had some simple remedy to soothe my throat and help me regain my lost voice.  No, I couldn’t even see Ned.  I was that tapped out.  I could not bear to say goodbye to one more person.

How do you feel when you move on?

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13 thoughts on “Redivide Me

  1. Catherine

    Oh gosh I’ve moved so many times and even though I used to say I could feel at home anywhere, it was tough. All that severing. I also wonder what it would have been like had I stayed put and grown deeper roots. But then I think my kids would have been different people, and I do like the way they have come together. And I like the lightness of the idea of being able to move on, even though I dread the thought of cardboard boxes and all those piles of the past.
    After eight years in this house I still have cupboards and boxes I refuse to open.

    1. Teri Post author

      Oh yes. All that severing. All those piles of past. What perfect phrases. I’m glad for my adventure, glad for the people I’ve connected with and the places I’ve experienced. But it’s so damned heartbreaking, too, all that leaving.

      I hear you about the unpacked boxes. We’ve been here almost 5 years and there are many unpacked boxes. Maybe that’s the moving person’s version of a basement full of stuff they haven’t looked at in years??

  2. lizisilver

    I often wonder what it would have been like if we had stayed in Maryland. We’d have friends, for one thing. I have not been back since we left, and although I love living in California and barely miss the East Coast, I get sad to think that I’ll never see those old friends again. I’d love one more chance to hug the ones I care about. Long, strong, hard hugs.

    Congratulations on the publication, Teri!

  3. Lisa H Golden

    Yes, congratulations on the publication! I want to read the whole thing because it’s you, of course. And because it struck a nerve. I ride that same fence. We’ve moved around and both my and my husband’s families have stayed in place. Sometimes I wish…. and then I remember who I am and what I’m like and why I married someone who is like me – willing to change it up. And I think no, we would never have lasted in place.

    Still……..

    1. Teri Post author

      Lisa, I would have never lasted there either. Yet. When I go home, for just those few days, it sure it sweet to never need directions and to know someone everywhere you go.

  4. Laura

    Congratulations!!

    I too have wondered what it must be like to stay in one place forever — not that I’ve wanted to do that, I just can’t imagine it. During a brief period in my early twenties, I was constantly moving. I wasn’t in the same place for more than 3-5 months at a time. I left behind so many places and some of them just broke my heart to leave. And I felt like I left some of myself in every place, and that’s how it will be forever. That’s part of why I wrote my short story “Living Arrangements.” And I’m still not done writing about this stuff.

    My brothers and I sold our childhood home immediately after our mother died. We finally had it cleared out and packed up about two months after her death. When we drove away for the final time, I was riding with my (then) sister-in-law. I watched the house as we went down the steep driveway, feeling pretty numb, and she said: “Are you okay?” I immediately responded, “Yes, I’m fine.” But then the house grew smaller in the distance and I realized, really, I wasn’t.

  5. macdougalstreetbaby

    Beautiful, Teri.

    Funny but the moving on has never been an issue.for me. It’s the coming back that tears me up. The experience tugs at me in a way that is so unexpected. I become this reminiscent and trembling babe lost in the woods without the crumbs to lead me home.

    1. Teri Post author

      MSB, there are a few places I’ve never returned to. And there’s one that I’m going back to for the first time next month — I’m kinda scared about it, to be honest. I left some bad memories there that, unfortunately, overshadowed so much of the good.

  6. Sherry Stanfa-Stanley

    Beautiful, Teri. So deserving of being published. (No surprise there.)

    You nailed the point about never seeing most of your old friends again. It’s the same with leaving old jobs. I eventually lost touch with most of the best friends I made at previous workplaces. Whether you move from a home or a job, you inevitably move on, too.

  7. Lyra

    I love this! LOVE this.

    I have moved so much ever since I’ve been able to, and only now do I crave that sameness knowing simultaneously it would be the end of me.
    I can’t wait to get Redivider to read the whole thing.

  8. Bobbi

    Ah yes, the serial mover. It’s hard isn’t it? Sometimes I ache for the known. I miss my friends and my old way of life a lot of the time. Really nice post Teri…

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