We helped a family member move this weekend. It was rainy, which stinks, but you can't beat a really good workout that also helps someone you care about. Unrelated: I have often thought that they should figure out a way for workout machines at the gym to generate electricity. Actually, someone probably already does that. At least then the Kelley-on-the-hamster-wheel (i.e. rower) would be making up for all the cardboard Amazon boxes I don't recycle.
The VERY first thing I did on moving day was pick up two boxes, carry them to the truck, and watch helplessly as the top one shifted and fell. The top opened and out SMASHED a very large glass Christmas globe, sending shards of glass and "aqueous fluid" (as-called-by-my-uncle) all over what had, moments before, been a completely empty moving truck. As my husband helped sweep up, he had to pick up the head of the Jesus figurine I'd beheaded. It was so bad. Even worse, I was told that the homeowner had (when I wasn't in the room) pointed at that very box and announced "please be careful with that one, the glass globe was my mother-in-law's before she passed."
Ugh. Shame, Kelley, shame. (Fortunately, for me, she is the most forgiving of souls and also, later, she broke her grandmother's mirror, so at least I wasn't the only butterfingers who shattered an heirloom. Boo for the casualties of moving everything you own.)
So while we were filling the UHaul, we discovered this box in the corner of the living room:
Now, call me crazy but this was SO intriguing to me. A sealed box labeled "Dragons." WHAT? Hagrid?? Is that your handwriting? The homeowner swore she had no idea what was in the box. My sister and I decided that our reward after unloading the second round of boxes would be opening this one in a dramatic way. Translation: My family is weird.
(Side note, you can see how bad was raining because we had backed the truck up to the driveway and were only walking like 8 feet in the rain, so that many drips all over the box in like 5 steps... feel pity for us.)
When we got to the new house to commence unloading, my kids asked if we were going to move again (we moved 4 years ago), and I confirmed that, no, we are not moving again and I plan to die in our house, but hopefully not anytime soon.
When you move anyone's stuff, you think two things:
- This is too much stuff. (Sorry, I can say this honestly because I thought it about myself SOOO many times when we've moved.)
- There are a lot of people in this stuff.
Let me explain: The table was mother-in-law's. The picture is of cousins. The book was a gift from sister. The dishes were great aunt's. The collection was inspired by dad's love of baseball. The movies were watched with children. The wreath was designed by daughter.
Don't we all feel like hoarders when we move? I know I did. But the truth is, most of the stuff that isn't practical matters because of a person, not the thing itself. And I think that makes it ok. I will happily help you carry boxes of memories that represent love earned, given, and received over years of a blessed life.
I have some ideas rattling around in my mind for my next book... something about a family who has had many children in and out of their house, inspired by the many stories I've read of far-more-experienced foster parents than we are. I imagine that each of those kids, no matter how quick of a stay in your home, would leave an impact. Maybe not an entire box of "Danny's trinkets" or "Joe's sports trophies" or "Sandy's old clothes", but some sort of...something. Maybe it's that one funny story or a unique memory. Maybe it's the one lesson learned that makes you react better the next time around. But I imagine that each child you'd parent would change you, your family, and your life in some permanent manner. And hopefully, the change would go both ways, and you'd have made an impact on that kid's life before their next page turned.
So, moving other people's boxes apparently inspires me! And that's the idea currently: I want to write something about foster care. Something about real kids, real stories, and real life -- unforgettable children, visible children.
Side note: the box of dragons WAS dragons. Couldn't believe it. Apparently, the family members who were moving have a secret obsession with "How to Train Your Dragon" and forgot (or were trying to hide!!) they had boxed up their no-longer-secret stash of plushies and figurines. Not kidding: