Moving is a pain in the butt! It usually incites an array of emotions, ranging from excited to completely overwhelmed. I can say with confidence that I’ve experienced the full spectrum and oddly enough, with my mom. Who would have thought that out of all the memorable experiences I’ve had with her, the majority of them would be centered around moving? Each one varied in scale, ranging from across the city to across the country and there are moves that stand out above the rest. There was our move from Newark, NJ to Orlando, FL after my freshman year of high school and the time my mom came with me across the country from Miami, FL to Burbank, CA to study Film & Media in grad school. Through it all, we had one another.
At the end of March, when my mom was presented with the opportunity to relocate to Orlando, FL for work, she was ecstatic! We had lived there from the time I was a high school sophomore until I graduated and went off to undergrad. She loved her time there because she has always been a fan of warm weather, bodies of water, and well seasoned Hispanic food; all of which is abundant in Orlando. This most recent move, however, was what we like to call, “The move from hell.”
Each human has an unspoken list of I-would-rathers. It’s a list of tasks or events that you would prefer to endure over another. An example of this could be that you would rather do laundry than get stuck washing the dog, or perhaps you find cooking dinner less of a hassle than washing the dishes afterward. A more drastic example might be that you would prefer to step on every Lego possible than to be stuck in a room alone with your least favorite relative for a single moment at Thanksgiving. These things fall into various places on our respective scale of preferences; I can say with 100-percent certainty that I would rather hear children scraping the bottom of a plate with forks and knives in tune to Baby Shark than have to redo the move to Orlando my mom and I endured. Scraping noises are more than a pet peeve for me, they’re a physical pain that I feel reverberating through my teeth and body. It’s a pain that was matched by the tightness I felt in my chest after my mom and I finally got on the road at 6:30 AM, an hour and a half late, for her move to Florida.
Our day began as planned: We got out of bed at 3:45 AM EST without so much as a grumble, got dressed, and gathered our blankets to pack into the back of the truck. The bulk of her apartment had been packed into the Penske truck the night before we believed we were ready to get on the road at 4:30 AM. We were so wrong. My mom had rented a car trailer along with the truck so she could transport her car down the road. The trailer included tire straps and chains to attach to the undercarriage of the car for extra security. Everything seemed to be up to code when we left the rental lot. We were happy. We had successfully transported said trailer to the apartment that day and parked it out of the way of other residents without much trouble. Our trouble didn’t start with the light drizzle that had begun early on the morning the day of the trip, or with backing up the truck, which we had been concerned about. No – our trouble began the moment we tried to transition the car from the ground onto the seemingly secured trailer. We were left speechless. Imagine how you feel that moment when you see a toddler about to fall or that moment where your phone lands face first onto the tiled floor. Maybe that’s as close as I can get to describe how we felt the moment my mom, my boyfriend, and I watched the hitch fly up into the air and slam back down onto the back of the truck after my mom had backed her cherry-red Fiat off the trailer. We stood there speechless, our mouths agape. Our hearts stopped, I’m sure. I watched my mom’s face fall from confidence to despair as her hands flew into her hair. All I could think of was to suggest we try the whole thing again.
When I look back on that moment, I don’t think I could have done anything differently. I was holding it together for both of us. I am an empath and I’m incredibly sensitive to the emotions of those around me. I feel them as if they’re my own (and in most cases, I’d much rather I didn’t feel them as my own). I am generally a calm person, but when my mom gets worked up and overwhelmed, it’s hard for me to remain in my own state of calm. After two failed attempts to hitch the car, we were frazzled – but finally successful. Mom started the truck, released the parking gear… it clicked into place. My boyfriend and I looked at one another and laughed, soaked in rain and disbelief. We goaded her to try to load the car one last time. We were successful! Unfortunately, in a few moments we discovered we had not been successful in securing it to the trailer. Had I known what kind of day lay before me, I would have stayed in bed! Had I known that on waking up I’d be facing the longest day ever, I might have been saved from the headache and chest pain that followed the ordeal. Both of these physical responses, I found, were due to a heightened state of stress that I knew I had to release. Thankfully, thirty minutes later, I was able to.
My mom and I pulled into a rest stop hopeful that the day would turn into a wonderful one. Rather than “wonderful,” I now think I’d summarize the day’s emotions as terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. I felt like a character in a children’s novel who knows things will go bad because they sometimes do, because sometimes, things get worse before they get better. That’s exactly what happened to us. As we got down the coast into Palm Coast, as we were pulling out of a gas station, we began to feel a tugging in the back. My mom pulled over onto the side of the highway; she discovered that her car had shifted towards the middle of the trailer and had almost fallen into the back of the trailer. This was the second heart-stopping moment of our day. We were still over an hour away from our destination. We had a deadline to make. Were we stressed? Most people experience a lack of help, a few scratched walls, ill-packed tchotchkes, missing tools and keys as stressful, but my mom and I almost lost her car on the side of the road! Mom agreed to remove her plants from the front seat of the car and leave it parked in the lot of a Publix, intending to come back for it with a coworker another day.
It was almost 6 PM, the time for closing of the apartment leasing office. They had agreed to wait for us, to hand over the apartment keys. This helped us feel less stressed. We pulled into the parking lot at 6:06, got her keys, and we settled in for the evening with hot tea, tuna, and naan. After a stressful journey, it’s these moments of mindful quiet that we remember the most. From sun up to sundown, I had longed for the day to end. I prayed for the tension in my body to subside. The stress of the trip hadn’t allowed time for me to process the fact that my mom and I would no longer be in the same state. We’ve been states apart before, but this move felt different. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I know we are both ready for this change and the separate lives ahead of us. That drive was surely the longest, most stress-inducing road trip ever, but there’s no one I’d rather go through this with than my mom. She and I have been through the thick of it and have come out stronger, together, every time.
Brings back memories. I’ve moved too many times to count in this life. It’s nice to let the dust settle at last. Maybe that’s just getting old. Either way, I don’t mind.