Articles published in the Richland County Bar Association's Richbar News

Moving On

July 17, 2015Richbar News Articles

Don’t tell me, because I already know.  You’ve been waiting by the mailbox, haven’t you?  Wondering where your Richbar newsletter is?  Well, as a matter of journalistic principal, the blame always lies with the editor. But unlike all the times I’ve accepted the blame in the past, this time it really is my fault.

I’ve been in the midst of moving my family of five from one house to another for what seems like about two months.  It’s one of those “life events” that shouldn’t be that time consuming or stressful.  It only rates a 20 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which rates life’s anxiety-producing events on a scale of 100.  Theoretically, it should be way less stressful than “Jail Term” (63) and only slightly more stressful than Christmas (12).  Based on Holmes and Rahe, moving maybe does not even qualify as a “life event.”

But it sure felt like one.  Maybe that’s because, as I was shoving stuffed animals into trash bags and carefully boxing up photos of my sons from when they were still small, our state was going through its own “life event,” as the Confederate flag rose once again out of the past and into the spotlight.

I can’t say I saw much of the coverage as the flag finally came down, consumed as I was with figuring out how to pack VHS video tapes and wondering what we would play them on if we ever found them again after the move.  But even as I missed out on coverage of one of the defining events of the decade in South Carolina, I could see its parallel to my own situation.  We were both in the middle of a big and rapid change.  We were packing away things that no longer served us.  We were moving away from our past to start a new chapter.

This is my fourth move with my family since 2003. Having done it so often, one of the hard truths I’ve learned is how much our memory is tied to a place. While we may gain a nicer or a bigger house each time we moved, we lose something too. We break our connection, for example, with the place where our first child took his first steps.  We still have the memory, sure, but we lose our easy access to it. It’s hard to let go of that.  And when we finally cut that rope that anchors us down into the past, it is disorienting.

But we can’t stay anchored to the past forever.  And we can’t keep everything.

At least, that’s what I told my kids as we decided what to keep and what to let go.  And that’s where most of the stress and argument comes in.  While one brother sees no significance in the Snoopy with the missing ear, to the other it’s a cherished object from his childhood he wants to display prominently.  How could two people in the same family attach such different values to the same object?  In the end, they let it go.  They are growing up.  They realized that they can’t have new things together if all the space is taken by an accumulated history that means different things to them.

So, that’s the really stressful half of moving – deciding what things no longer serve our family.  The other half – and the reason for moving – is about the hope for something better.  That can be stressful too because it involves stepping into the unknown.  But that’s where all space and opportunity lies.  It’s the history that’s yet to be written.

My family is in our new house, finally.  We’re past the hard part.  And – just maybe – my state is too. The question now is what history can we build together in this place?  What monuments to our time here will stand at the statehouse in 100 years?

That’s something we can only answer together, as we move on.

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