Liz, the 2005 Buick Tessara I’ve owned since 2008


I was so happy to be sending myself photos that I didn’t realize the phone thingy was also posting blank posts along with the images.

And the names got all fouled up.

And the longish post I was writing got lost.

And I am just so tired, I couldn’t even face fixing things this morning. Plus an unreasonable pain from a pinched nerve just wouldn’t go away – finally tamed it with ibuprofen and hours on a cold pack.

The cars are not going with us

My husband isn’t sentimental about cars; we sold his yesterday without much of a backward glance, even though he’s the only owner it ever had, and I don’t have a picture.

So I headed to the window, took my first picture through the screen, realized it was junk that way, took it again – and here you have the car that did the bulk of the homeschool hauling around, and all three kids learned to drive on it (and aced their parking tests!), and it has been to Pittsburgh, PA, and to Troy, NY, bunches of time (we didn’t drive to Pasadena because that was way too far), hauled more junk than I can shake a stick at, and had its seats in and out to make space.

Her name is Liz, because youngest daughter told me (I took her along and made sure she sat in every minivan on the used car dealer’s lot to make sure her older and taller siblings would fit when they visited) that if you name a car, you have to take it home.

The dealer here will take her off our hands on the day we head out of town, and the convenience of having him do the transfer paperwork right has trumped any thought of selling her privately for possibly more money. Plus we’ll keep her up to the last day, and not need a rental. Plus luggage.

I don’t ‘love’ inanimate objects, though I do anthropomorphize, but Elizabeth (Liz) gets thanked a lot when I leave this place – and make it back safely.

The packing is going, going, almost gone…

The captain's bed in my office, with a blue fitted sheet, covered by things still to be packed, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

The last of the captain’s bed

and the rooms are emptying to a pile of boxes in the living room ready for the movers this week,

Empty closet with packing materails, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

and this is the last of it – and will be the first boxes opened because that’s where the toothpaste is. And the antacids.

We’ve reached the point

where we’re leaving whether the sale goes through or not.

If it doesn’t, the house can stay under management, empty, fixed, and ready to sell until it does, and our lawyer said he can handle the closing. But signs are positive (all fingers crossed, now, guys), as it toodles along lackadaisically toward the new folk, and they have ‘happily’ (according to our agent) agreed to accept a few things we are leaving them because they really need them even though they don’t know that yet.

The house is another thing I will definitely miss, but oddly, because, since the staging ladies and the painter and the flooring people did their thing it hasn’t been my house, anyway.

We’ll have to remember with our memories, and the house as the backdrop of family photos, because I never got to do what I was going to do, namely clean it up for sale (but without all that newfangled staging stuff), and then take pictures. So there are birthday parties in the office, kitchen, and dining room; and Christmases in the living room; and some Thanksgiving photos’ and lots of pictures of the exterior through all the seasons.

But no photos of a tidy house of mine.

That’s all for now, folks

It may be a while before the next post, or, living in an Extended Stay America for a week, I may have so much time on my hands that it drives the words out of my head onto the page. Dunno.

There are still an awful lot of things to do and I hope I don’t forget any of the ones which are critical.

Or pack them inaccessibly. I left the pool floats where I will open them first, and kept a bathing suit out. First things first, of course.

I think I’ll leave you to ponder the existential thrill of letting go of so many things at once and with no time to ponder individual ones, nor to take photos of most of the things which are staying in NJ in the homes of friends, strangers, and the dump. I kept the photos and the digitized home movies and the music transferred to an iPod (need to make a backup of that, too).

It’s supposed to be freeing to empty it all out, to let go, finally, of project you really are never going to do (my assistant took one of them – if she does it, and sends me a picture, I’ll post it, but don’t hold your breath).

I don’t feel free yet, just empty. It does and it doesn’t help that I’ve been almost completely home-bound for many years now, leaving as infrequently as possible because of the energy it takes.

I will get back to writing, and learn a new, communal place, and move on to the next phase.

I don’t regret any of this – but it is a very strong demarcation in my life.

I’m sure you have stories from your moves – I’d love to hear. Please share.



20 thoughts on “Moving is such a sweet sorrow

  1. singlespeedsteve42

    Ugh…moving (deep sigh). We’ve done our fair share between military, truck driving (wanting to stay reasonably close to “the yard”), 4 times since the house fire in 2011 (into the motel for 6 weeks…actually, was 2 different motels…into a town house that turned out to be a scam, rented a trailer out on the lake, and bought this place), and as this place isn’t our favorite (she hates it, I tolerate it because it’s nearly paid off already) so there will be more coming =/

    Hope it all goes well, my friend, take care of you until you’re back to posting 🙂


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m sorry to be so ignorant about military moves, but I’m wondering if they pack and unpack you, or just move your stuff. It’s the packing – and trying not to take everything with us – that is the painful part.

      We lived in a motel for 5 weeks when we first came to NJ, and, boy, were we ready to get out of one! Did you have kids when you had to do that? We didn’t – it would have made things unbearable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. joey

    I am just so excited it’s happening for you and y’all won’t be trapped there another long winter!
    I can totally relate to your love of Liz. I had my husband sit in the back of Blanche so that Sassy couldn’t complain about leg room when I took her home.
    All the overwhelming emotions and the exhaustion of doing and planning … Oof. I hope that hotel is kind to you.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks for all the support – it has been duly noted. Next time you move, I will be all ears. Hope it isn’t soon.

      Winters can be brutal lately, and I don’t get out for ages, can’t help with the snow removal any more (not safely), and worry about falls. I’m fine on dry level, but not wet slippery, surfaces.

      You get it about the car! They spend more hours with us than our spouses, it seems (at least awake). We went on homeschooling things in that van for years – carrying the Future Cities model in two 4 x 4′ pieces to a freezing cold Philadelphia contest in January one year, driving to MIT for a regional Siemens competition our team unexpectedly won, all the things you remember.

      The picture will help – I don’t think I had a good one. As I say, I write these posts partly as my external memory.

      I’m calm – but stressed. It seems so many things are left for the end – because you’re still using them. And they will be missing for at least 8-15 days – and then there will be the exhausted unpacking part, knowing it isn’t permanent, and still needing to function. I left my suit where the pool will help. Can’t wait!

      Come out and visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. joey

        Yes. I am looking forward to when the outdoor pool closes because I’m much more a fan of the indoor pool. I don’t know how much more swimming with everyone’s LOUD children I can handle. Don’t tell anyone I said that. LOL
        (i moved often. for most of my life. i’ve actually lived in 28 places)
        I have no desire to move, although I might, one day, consider summering far north, should that become an option. I would move only if my new circumstances appeared better than all my current ones. I’m happy, so it’s hard to imagine.
        Aren’t you glad the memories go with you!


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          One outdoor pool, three indoor pools, very few children. I’ve lived in more than I think, what with student apartments in college and grad school, but you win, hands down. Military, I think?

          I’ve worked darn hard to make some of those memories tangible and stored on hard drives (and will make sure they stay up to date with technology), and hope that’s saved them. You do the best you can at the time.

          I never thought to take pictures of my student apartments – wish I had. My memories are fuzzy. Sometimes they come to me in dreams, altered oddly.

          Not important.

          But I’m so glad the internet means everyone goes with me if we were connected here. Hope FB holds up a while – I don’t know how I’d recover that!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Catana

    It sort of feels as if you’re about to sail off the edge of the earth, with faith that you’ll land somewhere, safely. It isn’t something I could face again, though I’ve done it many times. Just be very, very good to yourself through this whole process.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m trying – thanks for commenting. I thought I was going to have to wait until my computer files are restored to remember what your email address or blog were (I know – brain empty).

      I hate losing you – I value your unique and ironic take on things, and our online comradeship.

      I promise to catch up very soon now that I found you.


  4. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    Oh, wow! I’ve been checking your blog frequently, eager for the next news in your move. When I saw the picture of your car, for some reason I thought, “This is it! She’s on the plane now!” Then I saw I’d jumped the gun. But you sure are getting things done. I’m impressed by the empty closet and emptying room in the photo.

    … I never got to do what I was going to do, namely clean it up for sale (but without all that newfangled staging stuff), and then take pictures.

    I can so relate to this. My long string of injuries and illness over the last 6-7 years took me out of ordinary home maintenance and tidying very effectively. Each time I would take a few small steps back toward those responsibilities, something else would come along and knock my feet out from under me. It’s been long enough now that I can’t remember (not really) what it is like to be able to do all those things. I still have the fond illusion that I will be able to climb that mountain again, but…well, one thing at a time. Right now I am tacking my return to the gym. If I succeed in not injuring myself this time, then I’ll attempt the next thing.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Wondered how you and the family and your dad were doing – I keep up on FB – so this was a pleasant surprise.

      I’m almost not blogging right now, and then had the whole fight with WordPress yesterday, but keep doggedly at it because these posts may also be my only record of MY move and thoughts on it.

      It is easy to forget how much work the average mother/wife/woman of the house has to put in to keep things tidy and under control, sometimes helped, but most often not, by the rest of the family. The opposite is possible, but rare. And the amount of attention the house ‘needs’ is huge, so when our priorities get rearranged for a while, wow to the amount of accumulation!

      Movers come WEDNESDAY. It seemed SO far away, and so unimportant, as we ironed out the details of the sale, that I didn’t ask for enough help early enough (now have TWO paid assistants, but I can still only work what my body and mind will let me, and that’s strained). I don’t think it would have helped; I think we would have just tried to do more things before moving. Husband is STILL doing things I think we should be throwing money at instead (putting down mulch?).

      On the good side, I’ve realized that my next step is to pack what’s going with me on the plane, even if I have to retrieve the odd item or two, and that we will use to live in the hotel here and the guest suite there for about two weeks total, between the 22nd, when the movers come for EVERYTHING that is being shipped, until it arrives and the boxes with the special yellow markings are opened.

      Then what’s not packed, or removed by the movers, or taken by the local charity (furniture) the day before the move – the leftover stuff – will quickly get either donated or trashed, and I’ll be done. Even if we just end up filling a few boxes last minute with ‘stuff that must go and we can’t sort right now,’ it’s still the best thing to do. Because Wednesday WILL come, and I’m not ready.

      Remember my pain when your kids go off to college, and when they leave home: mom and dad can’t store their stuff forever. In our case, most of the kids’ stuff is gone, and what’s left is mine and his, but it helps to have the kids’ stuff gone, too, and if they don’t value it enough to haul it around with them, maybe they need to learn to cut it loose sooner rather than AS mom and dad are moving.

      All this is obvious, and it still hit like a giant fist.


  5. marianallen

    We moved a lot when I was young. Mom always said she wanted to just walk away from it all, and she did that twice: When she moved to Corning, New York, she left me in the house we shared when I was in high school and college; when she passed away, she left a house full of stuff. Her cousin had suggested she start divesting herself of things she would never use and other people needed, but Mom said, “When I’m dead, they can have everything.” That was the dementia talking, because she was the world’s most generous person. She just needed all her anchors at the end.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It must have been, uh, interesting? to move all those times, but it was your parents’ job to make those decisions. Have you moved much after you were an adult?

      Maybe that’s one of the things we have in common – my mother was an extremely generous person, too. It brings you up right.

      I’m hoping for fewer anchors of better quality.

      There will possibly be one more move, into something like Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing, and I’ll think about which things will go with me there.

      One of them is a digital picture frame which shows your pictures. Yes, you will be submerged in memories, but they will be the ones you thought worth preserving. At that point I probably won’t be writing fat novels any more, so I’ll have to have something!

      Many years will pass before that, I hope, but the lessons of this move will remind me every time I think of acquiring anything new in the future: do I REALLY, REALLY need this?

      There has been a lot of self-awareness going on, and the reason there is so much to get rid of is that I have been ill so very long, so the donating and trashing isn’t bothering me as much as if I tried to do something like a box a day.

      We moved a couple of times when I was a kid, once to Mexico (at 7), and then through two temporary homes until my parents moved us across the street from Lindavista 390 to Lindavista 391 where we lived until I went away to college, and then came back only to marry. They moved once more after that, to the golf club (my dad loved golf), but I never lived in that house.


      1. marianallen

        I’ve moved twice as an adult, from that house I shared with Mom to my husband/step-adopted kids’ house and then to our house in the woods with three of our four very close and the fourth not too far. I hope my next move will be six feet under.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          You just saw your mother into her last years – what are your plans in case you are living alone, and your kids see you declining? Make them – just in case. It gives you peace of mind – and some degree of choice.

          I didn’t want to stay here – too many stairs, too much work, no need for all this space, isolation… You have kids close, and it may work out much better for you to stay at home, but thinking about end times (personal) is an exercise we should all do periodically, like writing our wills, because not doing so leaves our heirs problems and messes. If planning is possible, of course.

          I expect to live to 115 in independent living. So there.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. marianallen

          LOL! More power to you! My youngest daughter and her pretty-much-a-husband plan to move in with me in this house she grew up in. She’ll be my POA and all that.


        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          That will be nice. I’d rather be with family, but it’s not likely. In Mexico, everyone in my family is there for each other (huge extended family), but I insisted on coming back to the States, and knew from the beginning when we had kids that they would scatter for jobs, like their father and I did, so this – or Boulder (but we didn’t know if son there, who just contracted for a house, would stay) – was the best choice.

          And taking care of someone ill, as I am, in their own home is very much non-trivial.

          This’ll do. I’m pretty sure.


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