I have always moved. As a Child Of Divorce, I moved between houses. Two moves a week, one every three or four days. Life as an actual Child Of Divorce was no real nuisance. The basic needs of my life were easily replicated at both locations. Clothes, toothbrush, Sega genesis: I did not need to bring these things with me. The only things that I moved were a pair of beloved stuffed animals, bear and bunny. Bear and Bunny went… well, who can remember what they were tote’d in originally, but for many years, they damn sure went everywhere and made every move with me. When I went off to elementary school, on move days, they’d come along in my backpack.
Eventually, bear and bunny retired permanently to my room at my mother’s house, where they stand sentry to this very day. They were pushed out as my little L.L. Bean backpack slowly ballooned with homework, and also because once I hit the refined age of 10, I finally realized carting around stuffed animals twice a week was, in fact, kind of weird. But the backpack remained.
The backpack was my unspoken constant. For a while the car ballooned, itself a backpack, but in general, the backpack was the base of operations. It was where I kept the things that couldn’t be reproduced at both locations easily, everything from lunch to books to drugs. As long as I had that with me, I could go pretty much anywhere and know I’d be fine. It went to every class, every vacation, every party in the woods, and, of course, every move.
I have remained moving even after moving out of my life of moving. I managed six moves during college, and then one leaving it for Chicago. I moved six more times in five and a half years in Chicago, and then a seventh coming to Los Angeles. I’m currently embroiled in my second move since arriving in LA. In an era of one-year leases, I am somehow averaging a move every 8.25 months since leaving home for college. And, let me tell you: moving sucks.
I’ve done it all. I've moved a whole team in and out with a bunch of sweaty friends, and moved myself, sometimes basically in the dark of night. I’ve rented U-Hauls and Zipcars across this great nation. I've scavenged boxes from restaurants, and other times bought them at absurd markups. I’ve crammed everything into messy boxes at the last minute, and I’ve made a giant excel spreadsheet and numbering system to track every sock. I’ve packed everything into a Subaru and driven it halfway across the country, and I’ve shipped heavy pieces of furniture back to my mother’s house to wait with bear and bunny. One time, I accidentally scheduled a move while on vacation and made my friends do it for me (sorry again guys). One time I quit my job because they scheduled me a brunch shift turing a move. One thing I’ve never done is paid someone else to move me, but, someday when I’m a grownup with enough money and things to merit this, I expect I’ll feel a bit uneasy about someone else handling all my shit.
My current move is, on paper, very easy. I don’t own much in LA, and the vast majority of it is going a mile down the road to a first floor storage unit. I only have two pieces of furniture I won’t be able to move by myself in my own car. I am currently unemployed and so have been working on-and-off on the move for a week now, a process I was sure would take some of the suck out of the whole thing. It has not, because moving sucks, and that’s that. You cannot defeat moving with a plan.
As I look around my two-thirds empty room, knowing I’ve left all the hardest parts for last, my eyes keep coming back to my backpack. In a few days, when all this is done, everything packed away safely in a dark cube, waiting for my next move, I will sling that backpack over my shoulder and I will get on an airplane and I will go on an adventure. The sweaty days cramming an IKEA dresser into the back of my piece of shit car right before I sell them both will fade into the mud of memory, and for a while it’ll just be me and my backpack, like when I was a kid. I’m excited for that, even if it means another move when it’s all over. I don’t mind having moved, in fact I like it. It’s the moving that sucks.
Anyway. Back to packing.