Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Fear of moving

Every household I've ever lived in in the Middle East has had a problem with ants. Every single one. That includes where we live now, which, while it is the nicest house I've ever had, is not immune to pesky ants. On Monday, we had them come in and spray - a dude with a mask and a hose sprayed who-knows-what around the edges of every room downstairs in an attempt to stem the rising tide of invasion.

We evacuated the house for a few hours and then came back to straighten things up. I had moved the rug in the playroom (i.e., the storage alcove underneath the stairs) away from the wall, and then ended up taking it out of the playroom altogether so I could wash and dry it outside. Last night, just before bed, I went downstairs to turn off the light and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the playroom, bare of its rug. All at once I was overwhelmed by a swoopy, nervous, stressed, sick feeling in my tummy.

What was it about a familiar, fairly permanent household item being out of its place that gave me such a fright? I'll tell you: it reminded me of moving. That particular strand of dizzy frazzledness strikes me anytime I catch sight of a wall without its pictures, or a mattress without its bedding, or a drawer empty of its contents.

We have moved so many times that you would think I have it down to a non-issue. But the truth is that we have moved so many times that I know just how much I dread the many tasks associated with the process. Besides having to pack up a household and make arrangements for transportation for your stuff and yourself, it's the emotions that really get to me. When you're in the middle of moving, there's never enough sleep to go around. There are so many things to do that you know you won't get it all done. There are people to say goodbye to and no time to do it. By definition, everything is misplaced. You can't find anything when you need it. You have to strike a terribly fine balance between being able to live and work while planning on being able to leave the place as spotlessly clean as it needs to be. Then there's the uncertainty about the nature of where you're going, if you've never been there before, as has almost always been the case for us.

So even though I know, on a rational level, that we have no plans to move, a carpet missing from its place is all it takes to send me into a tailspin of moving-related flashbacks.

I know I'm not the only one who moves a lot, and I'm certainly not the only one who doesn't enjoy it. What are your moving stories, and how do you keep it more manageable? My favorite strategy, which I used when we moved away from Ithaca, was to hire someone else to clean the apartment after we'd left. Wow, did that ever cut down on the stress! Best...however much money it was...that I ever spent.

Appendix A - A List of All the Times We've Moved, because I got to thinking about it.
1. Moved into basement in Orem, Utah when we got married (November 2001).
2. Moved to Moscow, Russia (January 2002).
3. Moved to American Fork, Utah (January 2003).
4. Moved to Damascus, Syria (July 2004).
5. Moved to Tucson, Arizona (August 2005).
6. Moved from Tucson to Amman, Jordan for the summer (May 2006).
7. Moved back to Tucson from Amman at the end of the summer (purists may not count this kind of "round-trip" move, but I do) (August 2006).
(7a. We actually lived in three different apartments that summer...but I won't count those since they were within the same city.)
8. Moved, again, from Tucson to Amman, Jordan for the summer (May 2007).
9. Moved back to Tucson, again, from Amman at the end of the summer (August 2007).
10. Moved from Tucson to Middlebury, Vermont for the summer (May 2008).
11. Moved back to Tucson from Middleubry at the end of the summer (August 2008).
12. Moved from Tucson to Provo, Utah for the summer (June 2009).
13. Moved from Provo to Ithaca, New York (August 2009).
14. Moved from Ithaca to Cairo, Egypt for the summer (May 2010).
15. Moved back to Ithaca from Cairo (August 2010).
16. Moved from Ithaca to the UAE (September 2010).

TV shows I used to watch when I was a kid

Death of a sandbox