When I told people I was moving across the country, most believed movers would come to our home, load our boxes and furniture into their mammoth truck, and meet us in Philadelphia the day we arrived. They’d be there to unload the truck hours after we landed in our new apartment, and we’d spend the day unpacking boxes and nomming on Italian subs (our moving day staple).
But the truth was much different. We elected to use PODs, giant steel boxes you load yourself–saving thousands of dollars in the process–which are then moved to your new city…thirteen days later. When we made the decision, it seemed like a no-brainer. How much did we really need during those first few days in Philly? We’d have a plethora of restaurants and retail stores close by. We’d have new museums and art galleries to fill our days. And we’d have coffee shops! Plus, four of the days, and three of the nights, would be spent driving to our new home. The reality of living with less didn’t hit me until we unpacked the entirety of our Audi Q5 (not a large vehicle) and dumped it on the floor of our apartment.
We had clothing, toiletries, a bag of food, some paper towels and TP, my daughter’s Pack-N-Play (a mobile crib), and two blow-up mattresses. A quick run to Trader Joe’s filled our pantry, and the new sights filled our days, but my nights were spent staring through curtain-less windows. Lying on my blow-up mattress–no lamp to shut off, no extra pillows to cuddle with, no photos or framed art on the walls–I thought about our two 16′ PODs, and the stuff they contained. And about how happy we’d be when it all arrived–some destined for our apartment, some for storage for when we bought a house. Mostly though, I worried for my daughter, and what she must be thinking without her crib, and her nightlight, and her toys, and her stuffed animals and dolls and electronic games and books and patterned rug and vintage lamp and quilted mattress cover and espresso-colored dresser and changing table. She must be so unhappy in that Pack-N-Play, centered in an empty room.
But she wasn’t in an empty room. My husband slept outside her portable crib every night on his own blow-up mattress, and when I woke each morning, I’d hear their giggles through the walls. It made me smile. So did the games we’d play–blowing a piece of lint around the floor on our hands and knees until my daughter belly-laughed so hard she tooted. Rolling a crumpled ball between her, my husband, and myself. These things replaced television. And going to the park replaced laundry with special-ordered, chemical-free detergent. And quiet dinners on paper plates, sitting cross-legged on the floor, replaced meals on china, followed by dishes.
Something changed over those few days. I stopped counting down the hours until my things arrived. And I started dreading it. I didn’t want to wake up to the sound of TV. I didn’t want to lose my husband to TV once my daughter went to bed. I didn’t want boxes to unpack or bathroom cabinets to organize. I didn’t want to coordinate maids or straighten up over, and over, and over again. I did want WiFi, and my coffee maker. But my wishes had dwindled to this–I wanted more quality time with the two people who mattered most. And when all that crap did show up? My daughter barely cared. No, actually, she did care. She cared that we had to ignore her requests to play because we needed to unpack, and organize, and clean dishes and clothing and countertops.
Those thirteen days taught me just how ridiculously privileged my life has become. And that if one of my biggest, previously-held fears came true–if I lost it all–I’d be okay. Because there would still be baby giggles, and my husband’s hand in mine, and paper plates, and games of ‘who can blow the lint the farthest.’ And there will still be this–a blank page, a quiet moment, and my words finding a place in this world.