Last week, I decided to accompany my boyfriend to our former home to retrieve two remaining bikes. He didn’t need my help, but it was my last chance to see the place from the inside. I wanted to say goodbye.
We’ve moved to an airy house in a lively neighborhood in Vancouver, and I know I’ll be happier here. But I have sweet memories of my morning yoga “home practice” at the neighborhood community centre where I now teach. My practice spot overlooked a grassy lawn, where on weekdays I’d glimpse schoolkids running for the bus, plus a familiar cast of characters, from the Chinese businesswoman invariably wearing black (and heels) to the older fellow in khaki pants and khaki fleece jacket, walking his unmistakable Airedale named “Charlie.” And I’ll always remember our old apartment as my late kitty Gingy‘s last home, where we bonded in her last months alive.
As we drove away, however, I felt lighter, less burdened. The move had been exhausting, entailing extra car trips back and forth even after the professional Vancouver moving guys did their job. Meanwhile we carried on with our careers and other commitments throughout (I recommend a two-week moving “holiday”).
It struck me that the “ordeal” of the physical move actually made emotional move easier. If moving had been cake, I might be more nostalgic about leaving (for two seconds, anyway, considering that the new place is far superior). Change is good, but it’s not always easy. Perhaps the difficulty, even pain, of change primes us to welcome a new chapter.
Maybe it’s a good thing that breakups are often frustrating, wrenching, altogether messy affairs. When it’s final, being alone can be liberating. And while I cannot imagine death of a loved one ever being positive, I’ve observed people who’ve cared for terminally ill family members. My friend Gordon, who was in his 30s when his dad died of cancer, said that after two years of fighting the disease, he (and both parents) were absolutely drained; death was almost a relief.
Regardless of whether a change is pleasant or painful, I try deliberately to say goodbye to the past. It is easy to distract ourselves with busyness, avoiding any gap between old and new. I’m the type of person who rarely sits still (both literally and figuratively), a quality I considered rather positive until a wise confidante pointed out that I avoid being in limbo—and thus waste the opportunity to savor that clean emptiness between two lives.
My hands are full, unpacking and setting up house. But I’m trying to keep a mental space for myself, to appreciate the kick and chaos of change.