Moving house feels as if it ought to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Unfortunately for house-dwellers and fortunately for the livelihoods of removal firms, this is not the case. Of course the experience can sometimes be sad and poignant and emotionally draining. It can also, sometimes, be pretty farcical.
For example, realising that the emotional currency of your marriage now largely consists in cheering one another on at the completion of yet another box. And that the ferocity usually reserved for severe breaches of trust can be inspired by the realisation that someone has moved the tape and scissors.
Or the moment when you dig into an old box of mementoes, packed the last time you move, and you scratch your head and wonder how mad you must once have been to treasure these things enough to keep them (why was the tiny notebook never written in? where did that bit of slate, one inch by half an inch, come from in the first place?). Then you realise that either you’re still mad or that when you packed last time you felt exactly like you do now, just wishing it was all over. And so you carefully pack the tiny notebook, the bit of slate, the unworn dolphin earrings, into a new box for a new house.
Then there is the ever-growing corner of tiny, fiddly things that don’t seem to fit in any box and that you know will end up stuffed in a carrier bag at the very end and hidden in a rucksack to be found, months later, when you go camping. Things like hairbands, stub ends of pencils, single pennies. You could throw them out and your life would be none the poorer (well, excepting the pennies, I suppose), but by force of habit they come along, to gather in dusty corners in a different corner of the country.
And then there is the moment when this home you’ve poured all your memories and waking hours and sleeping nights into suddenly looks half-naked and unfamiliar, and that’s when you really want it to be over because it would be better to have left for good than be only half gone. But whilst you might take away every twig of furniture and throw every last hairband into that plastic bag, you know you’ll leave something behind: the shape of your life when it fitted into those rooms, that particular space.
I’m sorry, did I say it could be poignant?