Moving home is one of the most stressful events we go through.
According to research, six in ten people find moving home as the most stressful event in their lives.
Marriage comes in second. Coroni-macaroni adds a ton more stress, although the data isn’t available yet. I’m doing all three in eight weeks. The trifecta.
Don’t feel sorry for me though.
Having a home is a huge privilege. It’s a pleasure we easily take for granted. Still, when I leave a home I get incredibly emotional for no reason.
The homes we leave are more than a series of walls.
The moment the tears start
Moving home makes me nostalgic.
I start to think about all the memories that happened in that home. For example, in this home I got to live with my partner for the first time.
We got engaged in this home. We got ready for our wedding and got married in this home.
We survived a pandemic in this home.
I quit my job forever in this home. I’ve contemplated my morality in this home. I’ve starred at the walls when a loved one died and I realized nana isn’t Peter Pan after all. I’ve thought about what fatherhood might be like one day in this home.
If the walls of my home had ears, they would have heard things.
The memories are what bring the tears. They can’t be relived.
My wife doesn’t feel the same separation anxiety. She’s used to moving. She moved from Asia to Australia and found a new home.
Maybe people who shift continents are better with home separation. I’m not.
The stress comes from a bizarre place
Moving home is incredibly stressful. It’s not the moving boxes or the removalists that do it.
It’s letting go of a home.
Coming to terms with the fact you’ll never be between these walls again. That this home is about to become someone else’s. It can feel like the new tenants are cheating ex-partners. They’re taking something you’ve grown to love.
But I don’t always love this home.
It’s a student apartment with trains that run every ten minutes through the backyard and late into the night. There’s one kitchen sink and it’s not deep. The bedroom has no windows that face outside.
Upstairs neighbors have parties until after midnight on a Monday night. As the pandemic has raged the parties have got bigger and louder. I suspect the loud music and beer cans are a way to numb the pain.
We all feel that pain.
My home isn’t perfect. That’s what I’ve grown to love.
The emotion comes from a bank manager
My relationship with homes is rocky.
As a kid, I came home from school one day to find my parents on the phone to the bank manager.
“Yep, you have to sell,” said the man on the other end.
“Do we have to?” said my dad.
“Sell it all, to hell with it!” shouted my dad.
I was too young to understand. Why would we sell a home? How can money disappear? Can’t family lend us money? There has to be another way.
Losing that home is something I’ll never forget. I still drive past it 20 years later and wish I could buy it back. Or at least enter the hallway for a taste of that sweet, sweet nostalgia.
I have fantasies of ringing up my parents and saying, “mother, father, I bought it back for you with the extra money I made.”
The smiles on their faces would be worth the millions I’d have to pay to buy our home back.
A big kid can dream.
Some days I wonder whether that grizzly bank manager is the reason I became a banker. I wanted to be kinder to customers than he was. I didn’t want to take anyone’s home away.
Learning about money became my insurance policy against not losing another home. So far, so good.
The people you leave behind with dark stories
I went to the gym for the last time today.
I found myself on the dip machine sobbing. The gym never meant much before … until the pandemic took it away.
The gym owner was sad to see me go.
The pandemic and lockdowns have destroyed the business. Many haven’t returned out of fear. She needs every member she can get.
I recently realized why. She married a man who used her house as security to borrow money to open the gym.
He became abusive.
Now they’re divorced. But if his gym fails then she loses her home. She’s of retirement age so she has no choice.
Make the bastard’s gym work or be homeless.
Thinking of her home makes me not want to leave my home. It can become any one of us. Home empathy should become a thing.
Losing a home is a nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
The weirdo with a camera phone
This morning I found myself taking photos of my home for the final time before the removalists come.
The photos aren’t perfect.
The bed isn’t made. The blanket is still on the couch. My wife’s make-shift desk is still on the dining room table because of the ongoing pandemic that has kept her workplace closed for good.
The dishes are in the sink too. Food is on the kitchen counter. The pantry door is open. Spice mix has spilled everywhere.
Still, I take photos as if those imperfections are supermodels.
I want to remember this home, even though I’ll probably not look at the photos again. It’s just too painful.
This is my ritual. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s how I say goodbye to a home properly before the breakup.
The next home isn’t far away.
Three more days until I meet her. I’ve seen her once but don’t remember a thing. I like to be surprised. I hope it will be a great home with fantastic neighbors.
What if this home isn’t as good as the home I’ve left?
This next home isn’t too fancy. While it’s not an apartment and has its own entrance, it’s a shack. That’s what it looks like.
The rooms are shoeboxes. There’s one less bathroom. The house is old. The backyard is 10 feet by 6 feet. There’s no room for play but it has a tiny clothesline.
The home isn’t much. My wife and I are both minimalists and simplists.
I’m not sure how I’ll feel about this new home. I hope the transition is smooth. I hope the new neighborhood welcomes us. I hope I don’t get postcode anxiety.
What I have no idea about is what fresh memories will be created in this new home. It’s both exciting and scary.
Next time you move home, don’t worry if you feel emotional like I do right now as I type these words.
A home is more than four walls. A home is a container for memories.
Memories bring out emotion. Let it all out.