In my last post, I wrote about our drive to move to Texas. For this post, I am writing about how I was feeling when we were packing up and leaving our hometown of 17 years. It hasn’t been easy to write; hopefully, you enjoy reading it.
The beginning of our packing started months before our departure. It was frustrating, but also liberating. Getting our condo in order to show how great it was after we had been there for 12 years was something to be proud of, and we were. It was almost like going back in time to when we moved in, but better. You can see the photos here. Even the kids were happy, Cecito ran around shouting, “ This is awesome! Can we keep it like this forever?”
Then came the real work, packing up a truck with all the rest of our stuff. Giving away (almost all) of our beloved plants, and saying goodbye to all of our friends. It was a whirlwind.
During our last two weeks, I tried to pack in as many individual goodbyes as I could. That was exhausting but, also, very worthwhile.
I had a few goodbye gatherings and that took me back to the original feeling of bittersweet. Our plan to move was a good one, but it was still hard to lose the life we had cultivated. However, with COVID-19 we already had to do without so many things that I had resolved myself to think we were better off just to get out of town. Since we weren’t able to do anything, anyway…why not get this adventure started?
When I finally got to see friends it did feel amazing, but it was also very strange and different. Plus, when we were in the final stages of escrow San Diego started opening up, this brought on confusion; it elevated my level of loss in the blink of an eye. I went from the dullness of isolation to full-on heartbreak.
All the craziness and big feelings were shoved into a two-week smorgasbord of attempting to, at the very least, get in a distant goodbye wave to all those lovely faces we came to adore. Well, as many as we could fit into two weeks at separate times since we were trying to social distance accordingly. The scheduling of all of it was the exhausting part, seeing everyone was the sweet part and saying ‘goodbye’ or ‘so long, for now’ was the sad part. If I’m being completely forthcoming, just seeing people walk up our driveway for the last of the lasts was when the tears began. But we survived.
In the end, there were a few exceptions made, so we got a few lovely hugs in; and of course, more tears. Most of the time I felt like I was vibrating and I also felt a bit vacant, like all my proper emotions took a vacation leaving me to feel lost. Lost in the chaos.
I mean, there is no handbook to moving during a pandemic. Managing what people were comfortable with, their schedules, the super short time they had to respond to me and fitting it between our packing was more than I originally bargained for.
However, we did it! Somehow we managed to see most of the people we are closest to, some we have known for almost two decades. No matter how it all went down or how difficult it was, the feeling we were left with was gratitude. The outpouring of love was astounding. As if I didn’t love this bunch of people enough, already; now I’m ever indebted to them, in a good way.
As an example, the day before we left I texted folks in the morning for a last-minute quick goodbye and there were multiple people in our driveway or driving by the entire three hours. That text went out around 8am and they all showed up that afternoon — talk about coming through for a win! Our friends are amazing, certainly giving me all the warm fuzzies.
Then came the day for us to leave. One of my closest friends, Laura, came over with her kiddos to help wrangle our kids while we finished packing the truck and cleaning the condo — such a life-saver! With her and her kids there, my kids had people they loved there for them on a rather tough day for all of us. I cannot describe what a treasure that is. Along with our incredible neighbor, Patrick, who cleaned a majority of our home for the new owner. There is no amount of thanks that I could offer him to equal the gift he gave us that day. Because if it weren’t for him we would have been leaving the next day, scrambling to figure out where we would be sleeping.
Lastly, came the time for us to depart. Oh the tears, it was so hard for me that I could feel my chest tighten and my eyes felt small from trying to hold back tears. As we were getting into the car our super sweet great-grandmother neighbor with her visiting daughter (whom we have also gotten to know over the years) sat outside on her porch to wave goodbye on our way out; along with Laura, her kids and Patrick on the other side of the road waving. It was so special, a moment in time, and so very hard. I was a little shaky. (Even now, while I’m proofreading this I can see all of them, in my mind — I tear up and my heart feels bigger.)
As I drove down our street, for the last time of it being ‘our street’, I felt like I was leaving my heart behind. All those memories: friends, jobs, neighborhoods, adopting Domingo (my first pet), our wedding, bringing our kids home from the hospital, the kids starting school, even Gil selling his 1962 Impala. It felt like we were also saying goodbye to all of those precious memories. I have only had this feeling once before; when going back to my childhood home for the first time, seeing it from a distance, only to stare and cry that deep cry you feel when you have to let it all out.
As I drove west on the 8 my inner voice kept repeating ‘remember this,’ solidify these mountains you are seeing in your mind, remember this amazing home, this life…it was tremendous.
It was also the start of me becoming numb. I think this was self-preservation. It was first noticeable when we moved into the apartment, but the most interesting part was that I could backdate it to when it happened. So, I guess I was paying attention, but not letting myself realize it. Most likely because there was so much to do that I had to just do and not feel. My hunch is that this is normal and what a lot of people do with loss.
Now we are a few weeks into being here and I’m managing. Change is inevitable and eventually good; however, I don’t recommend moving during a pandemic. There isn’t much that makes sense during a pandemic.
Even though, we are together as a family, and hopeful.