Tuesday, March 24, 2020

SOL20 Slice #24: Moving

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOL20).  
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2020.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

Early one morning, this enormous, long truck pulled up in front of our flat little duplex on the naval base in South Carolina, and four big, muscled men climbed out. They came into our home and started moving all our things. They wore jeans and white t-shirts. They were loud, and moved quickly and purposefully. One man had long hair, pulled back in a ponytail. One man had a beard and a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve. Their relaxed, somewhat disheveled look was so different from the Navy men that were my entire world until then.

I was five years old when they turned my world upside down. They moved all the big things first, the sofa, the headboards, the dining room table. They worked in pairs and alone, lifting furniture around the bend in the hallway, down the small front steps, and loading them into the back of the truck. One man dropped the end of a dresser he was moving, and it landed on his foot. He let out a loud "DAMN!," to which my Dad snapped - "Knock it off! There's kids around here!"

Everything was going. There were cardboard boxes everywhere, so many boxes, and they were packed up quickly, folded closed, and taped shut. The long-haired mover grabbed a doll from the floor of my bedroom, and threw it into a box he was packing. I cried "No!" and grabbed the doll in a tight hug, just before the box was closed. He smiled and began speaking to me like Donald Duck, with an "Ah, Phooey!" Dad overheard him and said, "Get to work, there's lots to do."

Now vigilant, I ran and quickly grabbed my beloved blanket from the foot of my bed. I clutched these two treasures, the blanket and the doll. I watched in wide-eyed wonder the rapid work around me. Everything was changing, everything was falling apart. These men worked all day, sweat glistening on their faces and soaking their clothes. Dad gave them cold bottles of Coke. In the end, they slammed the door of the truck closed, locked it, shook my Dad's hand, and drove away. With everything. These men just showed up and packed our stuff and ignored my protests.

I remember,
the truck came, and
everything went.

Dad promised that I would see it all again, another day. Soon. He assured me that this would be fun, that new and exciting things awaited, after our move.

All that was left was the station wagon, and it was stuffed to the brim with so many suitcases, bags, pillows, and treasures, plus five children, ages 0-10, Dad and Mom, and my blanket and my doll. These last two never left my arms. We drove up the coast, miles and miles of road. Dad and Mom drank coffee from thermoses and we ate sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, with chips. I didn't know where we were headed. I was along for the ride.

We made another home, in Connecticut. It was different in so many ways; rather than that small, flat home on the military base, we moved to a big old Victorian fixer-upper with three floors, a cellar, and a leaky, steep roof, "off-base," in town. Those first few days, we slept on the floor of the empty house, waiting for our things, watching for the truck.

Finally, it arrived, more or less. There was a small rip in the back of the sofa, a new scratch on the dining room table. Several boxes were already open, with a mish-mash of contents. I remember Dad laughing at a packed ashtray, with his cigar ashes still in it, carefully wrapped in sheets of newsprint, and he asked, "Now, what was the point of that?"

There were some things that never made it north. One box of our belongings was entirely gone, and other boxes had been picked through, with select things taken.

I had my blanket and my doll, though.

These days of dramatic change and loss are not unlike that time way back when. 
I don't know where I'm headed.
I don't know what comes next.
I am that little girl who is
to a new,
mysterious, and,
hope beyond hope,
possibly magical

I've always been able to see next as better, to see hope in the future.

What do I love that's been put away in a moving box, for some unforeseeable time?
What's in a moving box that I may not see again? 
What's gone forever?
What moving boxes fill me with hope? 
What's been put away that I would go the extra mile to find?
What is the blanket and the doll that I am holding onto tightly, right now? 
What soothes me, in this in-between time?


  1. Oh, Maureen, what a lovely post. I love that you've put into words so much of what I'm feeling right now. I like thinking of this as an "in-between time." I remain hopeful. My question to add to your list: "What can I do to scatter hope and goodness during this time?"

    1. Oh, I love that extra question! Though, five year old me wasn't really thinking like that. It's funny, I know I have so much more "agency" than I did as a five year old, yet, whoa, it seems as if I am just as bereft of control as I was then. Thanks for sharing!

  2. One thing I see offering hope during this time is reflection, reflecting on those past moments and the stories we tell about them to help us make sense of this seemingly senseless moment in time. The sharing of those stories has meaning, and your story makes me remember cross-country moves when my children were little and I did not know what would happen next. I was worried all the time. Now hold on to that blanket and doll in whatever form they take. Find comfort and peace in them, my friend.

    1. I thought it was interesting that you wrote about your sweet dog, today, who keeps you feeling safe and loved. We were both thinking about what gives us comfort and peace in turbulent times. Thanks for commenting, Glenda!