The Kubler-Ross Stages of Moving

Stage 1: Denial

It’s not going to be that bad. I’ll just put it all in boxes, tape them shut, and move them in a neat fashion. It will be clean and pure, like sipping on Holy Water or watching an episode of Full House.

I will keep everything orderly by marking the moving boxes with color-coordinated numbers. It will be so simple — not at all a twisting, increasingly-constricting labrynith into the deepest recesses of my mind. The color red for the basement, the number one for the dining room, blue on the first floor, twos for the living room. Black is for the color of my heart, and three is I’m terrified this is all I have to show for my life: a ukulele I’m never going to learn to play, a coffee table book about UFOs, and a really bitchin’ Miller Lite bar mirror I found at the thrift store.

And these Ninja Turtles trolls! A plush Crash Test Dummy? Wow, weird. Remember those commercials? Ha Ha Ha! It’s mint in the box! Never played with! Longing to be loved or ejected through a windshield! Want a thingamabob? I GOT THREE HUNDRED. Stone Protectors! Animorphs Books! Spuds MacKenszie the Original Party Animal mug, bitches. Pee Wee Herman mask! Micro Machines Man here to tell you about the genuine original marvelous majestic Micro Machines! It’s-a-me, Mario!

Alright, whoa, I’ve pulled myself back together. I will stack these boxes so neatly, it will be ecstasy. Just so much order, just so much intent, just so much accomplishment, represented visually. Every day I will do a little bit of the overwhelming daunting task of packing my entire house while working a full-time job, caring for two small children, and scanning in these three thousand documents the loan company wants. I will do it all mindfully, chipping away a bit at a time, like I am sculpting a statue of Apollo, so much beauty, so much vigor.

Stage 2: Anger

Why do I have so much shit?

WHY THE FUCK DO I HAVE SO MUCH SHIT, but this time it’s spoken in an aggressive, deeper voice rumbling from the pits of my guts. What is that ragey, scary voice? Is that the voice of my intestines?

Stage 3: While Cleaning Out the Shed, I Discover Kittens! Jo hurried to the shed, where she discovered a litter of mossy newborn kittens. They padded and pounced queerly behind the lawnmower and grass seed, the remnants of a failed dream of having a verdant yard.

Christ, I’m cracking up, man. Why is my internal voice now speaking in the narrative form of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women?

Stage 4: Bargaining. I could save the kittens, adopt them all. Bring them into the house, move them all to our new one. The children would be gleeful, the dog would be totally cool with wild animals, how much do vaccinations cost for eight feral kittens anyway? Can’t be too bad. If I could just save these kittens, I could also save myself. I need to be saved from these thoughts, this moving process — mostly these thoughts, and this weird voice speaking like Alcott. Always getting my spirit in scraps again, just like Jo.

The next day, by the shed, a black snake appears.

Stage 5: The long dark tunnel of depression. What’s the point of anything? I should just give up. Nothing means anything to me. How deep is this void inside of me that I’ve spent so much money filling it in with all of this shit? Look at these boxes. I don’t even know what’s in them. I can live without it. Look at me, living, breathing, not giving a damn what’s in these boxes. I buy things just so the feelings exist outside of me in a phsyical manifestation. Is it just me or is Dr. Zasio from Hoarders kind of hot? I wish she would come smack me.

Everything is so truly gruesome in this world. Kids are starving. People are dying. Nukes are pointing at us. I should stop spending and start digging. Digging the fall-out shelter — for what though? My father always said you better pray you’re the first to die after it drops, because you wouldn’t want to live in the aftermath. To relax, after a long day of packing, I google Nuclear Winter. I feel great. Fucking great. Virile. My wife gently suggests I take my anti-depressants. She says she doesn’t think the snake ate the kittens. I nod. Mother Cat moved them under the shed, Jo, that’s all.

Stage 6. Acceptance. Trash bags. It’s the terminal end stage of moving. You’re no longer packing boxes and politely taping them up. The end stage is shoving your shit in contractor bags. Heaving, sweating, dragging the body bags of oddly shaped items that don’t fit anywhere else. Everything is trash. It’s acceptance. It’s peace. It’s a carnie humping it all to the next site, and unpacking the carnival elsewhere.

The physical labor of moving staves off the voices and rage and depression. Everything is equalized as it is unpacked.

New house. Happiness. House warming. Hang up the Live Laugh Love sign. Dance Like No One is Watching. Jo finally learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally.

5 thoughts on “The Kubler-Ross Stages of Moving

  1. Here is the fallacy of moving:

    Before packing: “This is great! We can sort through all of our junk and get rid of everything we don’t need. We’ll have a garage sale and donate stuff and then we will only move the stuff we really want to keep.”

    While packing: “We don’t have time to sort all this junk. Lets just pack everything and we can sort in in the new house when we unpack. We’ll have all the time in world then.”

    After moving: “Where’s the ? I thought it was in this box. Why do we have this stuff still? I’ll just tape this box back up and deal with it later.”

    Eventually most of the stuff you need has been pulled out of the boxes, and the rest of the junk is still in boxes in the garage where it will stay until you move again. But that’s fine. You can sort through it all when you pack next time.

  2. I have never heard something so eloquently said about the arduous process of moving. Having gone through this recently as well I echo all the sentiments here, then some. On a positive note my leg muscles feel like a million bucks from all the box squats!

  3. I just moved last week and definitely went through all of the stages. Except finding kittens, I’m a little bitter about missing out on that one.

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