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Bubble wrap days

August 7, 2010
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At my current velocity, with my mind in two places that are 350 miles apart, and most of the things of our walls and shelves already in boxes where they will remain at least two months if not forever, I’m finding it expedient to invoke the bubble wrap standard. If the object is worth its weight in bubble wrap, it comes. If not, it goes, somewhere, but not with us. In fact, I’m seeing most of the world through bubble wrap. High maintenance is out, low maintenance is in.

I devise other tests of packing worthiness as well, and some are great fun. My husband and I both have vintage typewriters. I thought maybe we should sell at least one of them, so we retrieved them from their closet venues and tried them after years of life among the dustbunnies. My hands are still too RSI-burned to type, but I could type a little on his 50s Olympia, and a little but a bit more stiffly on my 40s Royal Aristocrat. We declared both to be beauties and not to be parted with. I think of all the writing produced on typewriters and its infinite superiority to all the writing produced since computers took over, and I contemplate typing everything on my typewriter and scanning and posting or e-mailing it. The revival of our affinity for our closet-dwelling typewriters has been a cheery diversion from the back and leg pain that comes with the preliminary packing leg of the adventure.

The great thing about our forthcoming move is that we are in it for adventure, for proactive change, for moving on. We are going to a place we’ve long wanted to be; we already have a church and friends there, and I’ve lined up a doctor and a pharmacy. Everyone with whom we’ve dealt at the new-home end has been warmly welcoming, friendly, and extraordinary in their earnest helpfulness. God seems to be cushioning our ride with bubble wrap all the way. But here at the origin, where we still live, a little weirdness kicks up sometimes.

I suppose there are restless stagnant people, who are not happy where they are but don’t move on either because they don’t want to or because they think they can’t; there are steady-stable people who are perfectly happy in one place forever; there are restless dynamic people who propel themselves to move on for any or no reason, but with a purpose in mind; and there are restless flighty people who are always in motion with no particular purpose in mind. In a state of equilibrium, these can all get along without much attention to their differences. But in a state of disequilibrium, when the variable of mobility is introduced, their differences become more apparent.

I’ve noticed that some of our neighbors have stopped speaking and waving to us, and I think these people are steady-stable people who assume everyone else is steady-stable until suddenly they do something radical, like announce their intention to move. Perhaps they think we think we are too good for them, which is hardly the case, and I actually have no idea what they think anyway. But from things they’ve expressed about the world in general in the past, this is possible. Our restless stagnant neighbors appear to be on their way to becoming dynamic, and they are very enthusiastically asking about our plans. They plan to relocate full-time to their mountain cabin in the next few years, and we understand how much this means to them, and cheer them on.

People respond in different ways to departures. I am one who sees people off eagerly and departs eagerly. I’m not wired to cling, and for the most part, departures are more joyful than stressful for me. I share others’ sense of adventure, and love and appreciate people who share mine. But when I sense inordinate neediness, perhaps masked departure anxiety beginning to emerge here and there, I can only put it in the high-maintenance category, not to be bubble wrapped. Native stress is too high to take on anyone else’s right now. Stress comes at the best of times; it underlies the urge to aim for the best.

Our present pastor knows we are going to a wonderful town with a great church — we are transferring to a sister church where one of his own mentees is pastor. He couldn’t be happier for us if he were going himself.

“Hey,” I say, “Don’t think of us as leaving you behind. Think of us as breaking trail for you.”

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