The Stages of Moving

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Two dear friends of mine are moving back to South Africa after spending several years in the UK.

Last night I received a funny e-mail from one of them, and she seems to be going through the typical "Stages of Moving."

Don't know what I'm talking about? (As usual... ha ha)

Well, not to worry, because of course I'm going to tell you (also as usual).

The Stages of Moving are very similar to the "stages of mourning," but instead of grief, it applies to - my but you're so quick on the uptake - moving!

And oh, yes... it most definitely exists. I've experienced it every single time I've ever moved, and well, I've moved a LOT.

So, just like when you grieve, the stages are:

1. Denial and Isolation (but also, add Procrastination): As soon as you find out that you're going to move, you look around your house and when you realize that all these things that you have mysteriously acquired over the years (seriously, where'd it all come from though?!) will now have to somehow be removed from said house, you go into instant denial.

To enhance that denial factor, you immediately leave the room and the possessions which are causing you such distress, closing the door behind you on your way out, thus placing said objects in isolation. But shutting the door, you find out, isn't doing much to silence the screams of your panicked conscience, so you enlist your voice of (warped?) reason to drown out your conscience by screaming that 24 are indeed a lot of hours, and therefore you still have plenty of time before your eviction move. Sufficiently calmed, you make yourself a cup of coffee and - when the amount of kitchen appliances and forks (do people really need forks?! Many people around the world eat just fine with their hands) start to stir up your conscience again - you leave the house and decide to have your coffee break outside. 'Cause you need the coffee break before you start all that work, you know. Thus you procrastinate.

2. Anger. After killing two hours on your coffee break (where'd all that time go?), you cautiously venture back into the house. No, you didn't imagine it, because all the knick-knacks are still very much in your house. And in fact, they seemed to have mysteriously multiplied since you've last looked at them. So at this point you get furious with your sentimental self (see? Anger) for keeping all the crap lovely gifts that anyone has ever given you, and you grab trash bags and decide that from now on, you are going to embrace a simple life and adhere to the principles of Zenlike minimalism.

3. Bargaining. After ruthlessly and furiously filling up half a trash bag, and just as you're about to send the hot pink doilies from your Aunt Ethel the same way as the forks and plates (minimalism, remember?), you are filled with sudden remorse and so you remove all the plates and forks and doilies from the trashbag, deciding that you can't live without it after all. That is, until you reemerge from delving the last spoon out of the bottom of the trashbag only to see that your rescued possessions are now in a pile stretching as high as the Eiffel Tower. When you realize that you'll simply have to throw some things away, you start to bargain with yourself: You can keep those National Geographics from 1987 if you get rid of the plates. Or if you chuck the 1999 National Geographics (but you can't! They have that article on Meerkats in the one issue with the adorable photos) you can keep all the wrappers of the chocolates given to you by your first love.

4. Depression. It is around this time, when all your possessions are in piles on the floor, that you are overcome with fatigue and despair. And so you collapse onto the floor, sobbing. Because you are depressed. Very depressed.

5. Acceptance. Hopefully, you reach this phase with some time left before the moving truck arrives. If so, then you turn into a machine and pack your belongings at a head-spinning pace. If, however, the Prozac-induced acceptance overcomes you too late, then you promptly decide that you are embracing minimalism early and then you burn the whole lot.

So, good luck JeAnette... and anyone else who happens to be moving.

In parting, an excerpt from an e-mail I sent out before my last move six months ago:

"The ENORMOUS MOVE is happening tomorrow, so right now I'm in the last throes of packing up and surrounded by the chaotic clutter of boxes in different stages of fullness. And I'm wondering - not for the first or last time, mind you - why on earth books can't be manufactured to be the exact same size for our moving convenience?!?!?

How did all these books sneak into this house to begin with, I ask you!? It's a great mystery to me... the formerly sweet memories of plundering the shelves of Barnes & Noble, giddy with delight, now very vague and suppressed by the dread and frustration of stuffing coffee table books (whoEVER invented those?!) into a box that is just an INCH to short.

But don't worry: I take frequent coffee breaks to ponder these important issues. Actually, I lie down a lot too, THINKING about packing up and all that's left to be done, and hoping that the books will fall from the bookcases and into the open boxes through sheer osmosis. But alas, they remain stubbornly on the shelves...

Why don't I love shoes instead, like a normal girl?!"

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» The Stages of Moving from Technicalities

So, I browsed by the New Blog Showcase tonight (yeah, like I have extra time... but there it is) and found this terrifically funny post about the Stages of Moving. 1. Denial and Isolation (but also, add Procrastination): As soon Read More

» Showcase Showcase from Simon World

I've got two particular favourites from the past weeks' Showcase entries. Firstly comes The Stages of Moving by Red Said. It's an enjoyable rant comparing the stages of moving to those of grieving. They are disturbingly similar. It's well worth a read.... Read More


Gretchen said:

I never realized that I went through "stages of moving," but yes, it really does exist.

How right you are, and how humorously you portray it.

Beerslinger said:

The last time I had to move, the day before I started I tore two ligiments in my knee. There is nothing quite like pain and imposition on friends to make a move fun.

kim said:

i will be moving in the end of september. within the same building. to a bigger place with more storage-space. so i can fully enjoy stage 3. because i will have enough room. YAY! and i'm still really relaxed about the move.

what i am a little stressed out about is the guy from the company that rents out the places coming to check my apartment tomorrow. he's gonna tell me all the things i'll have to fix and paint and renew. and how can i make the holes from the blinds and the screen in the balcony-door-frame invisible?? cause i'm pretty sure i wasn't allowed to drill and hammer in there.. i'm sweating!! what stage is this?????

Packing books! Ungh! I *hate* doing that!

Beerslinger said:

There just seems to be something morally wrong about putting books in a box.

This is very interesting. Very well informed indeed. With this tips you shared. It will be a big help to the ones who are looking more information about Moving from other place to another.

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Trash Bag Depot Advocate : This is very interesting. Very well informed indeed. With this tips you shared. It will be a big hel... [go]
  • Beerslinger : There just seems to be something morally wrong about putting books in a box.... [go]
  • Cleveland Natalie : Packing books! Ungh! I *hate* doing that!... [go]
  • kim : i will be moving in the end of september. within the same building. to a bigger place with more stor... [go]
  • Beerslinger : The last time I had to move, the day before I started I tore two ligiments in my knee. There is noth... [go]
  • Gretchen : I never realized that I went through "stages of moving," but yes, it really does exist. How right y... [go]
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