Too Much Free Time

I’m the kind of person who thinks of a task, project, or chore and then cannot sit down and relax until I’ve done it. If I try to sit, or sleep, or do anything else, the little voice in the back of my head starts screaming. I start mentally calculating how long the task will take if I do it right now. I start planning out how I will do it, what obstacles are likely to arise (that devil’s advocate again), what I might need handy before I start. The thoughts will pound my brain until I surrender. Then I start rushing around trying to get it done as quickly as possible, because like everyone else, I hate work. I’m just incapable of not doing it when it’s needed.

Right now, the task that’s sounding the alarms is packing. We’re not actually moving until April; I haven’t even found us a place yet! I’ve been looking online for months, but only contacted a real estate agent in the past week or so. Yet the thoughts are persistent: “You don’t want to have to pack everything in a rush!”

Mind you, I’ve never packed my own stuff in a rush. I’ve always known when a move was imminent and begun packing well ahead of time. When I moved out of my parents’ house 20+ years ago, the boxes had been neatly stacked in my bedroom for weeks. The fiancé I was moving in with, however, who also was still living with his parents, had not packed a single thing up to and including the day my dad and I got the moving truck. He wasn’t even home to meet us. By the time he arrived, I’d thrown everything he owned haphazardly into boxes and we were just finished loading the truck.

After he and I separated many years later, we continued to live together so that I could watch our son during the day. We basically split the house. Fortunately, it was an amicable divorce. I lived there another 2 years, so I had plenty of time to pack. By the time I did move out, I was dating B, my now husband, and he and his son agreed to help me. They arrived in the morning with hats and tubes of sunblock (this was Florida) and bottles of water, prepared for a long day of waiting, hauling, waiting, hauling—apparently, every woman either of them had ever known had been a horrible procrastinator. They were dumbfounded when I had all of my boxes piled and ready just inside the door and my furniture prepped to go. We moved me out and into my new place in 3 hours, and that included the 50-minute trip between locations.

It probably didn’t hurt that I wasn’t taking everything; my ex agreed to let me store most of my nonessentials at the house until I wanted them. The place I was moving into was a single bedroom in a shared townhouse, so I had serious space limitations.

I bounced around a lot between my marriages. After moving out of my ex’s house, I moved into that single bedroom; then into a loft at my sister’s apartment, which I moved back OUT of shortly after because it was infested with roaches; to the spare bedroom in a friend’s house; and then to a bedroom in another shared home—all in the space of 6 months. I had to get a post office box because my mail couldn’t find me. The last room was actually a master suite, so I had my own bedroom, bathroom, and a generous walk-in closet. With enough room for storage, I spent the next 9 months gradually bringing boxes home with me from my ex’s house when I’d visit my son. Throughout all these moves I was also getting serious with B and would spend many nights at his place. He worked until midnight most nights, so I would meet him when he got home, usually after working a full day at the bank where I was a supervisor, then spending the evening doing freelance work. Those were loooooong days.

As you can guess, when B and I decided to move in together, I was ready to go. We found a place through Craigslist (seriously, there are sometimes legitimate deals there), but the owner was looking for someone to move in as soon as possible. We signed the lease on Thursday and moved in on Monday. Like my first cohabitation, I was prepared and my partner was not. Despite weeks of hounding him to start packing, when the moment arrived, I was throwing things in boxes.

Since that first place, we’ve moved three more times, with a fourth on the near horizon. One move was the long haul from Florida to Virginia; I did most of the packing (as well as the house hunting), and he did the driving. Our last move was to our current location, about 2 hours from the last one. That one didn’t go so well. I had us packed, of course, and B drove the truck to the new place while I stayed behind to close out the old one. Unfortunately, the company I’d hired to load the truck went out of business before we left, and one of the guys I’d hired to come unload our truck got in an accident on the way and never showed up. B and one mover had had to unload everything, and it was not an easy task. B nearly broke his back carrying our incredibly heavy bed up the stairs. I wasn’t there to direct where things were supposed to go, so they brought everything in and dropped it wherever they found space. When I arrived that evening, I was horrified at the chaos.

By the next day, everything was in its place and unpacked. Because I had to.

So here we are again, on the cusp of another move. As usual, the house hunting is left up to me. Not because B can’t do it, or won’t do it; he just won’t do it soon enough or thoroughly enough to satisfy me, so it’s better if I have the reins. He has packed a few boxes, I’ll give him that, and despite the fact that I’ve started so early (as usual), he’s as eager as I am to move out of the tiny shoebox we’ve been stuck in these past 2 years. The growing stack of boxes filling our limited space is actually delighting rather than annoying us, because it’s solid proof that we’re almost out.

I’ve been doing my best to pace myself, even as my brain rants at me. I pack a few boxes here and there. Of course, I have a plentiful supply of boxes, foam padding, filler paper, all the necessities. I kept every large box from the last move and, in this covid quarantine time, I’ve been able to accumulate an array of smaller boxes from all the Amazon and eBay deliveries we’ve received. We rented a storage unit a little over a year ago and just renewed it through this year, so there’s a sizable chunk of boxes and furniture that we won’t have to deal with this time around. That also makes it difficult for me to pack too much ahead of time; much of what we have to pack is stuff we probably will need in the time between now and then. I packed up a little-used collection of things in my office the first week, and shortly thereafter discovered I needed something I’d packed. Cue enormous eyeroll.

Starting today, I have a few days off, so I’ve made plans to read. I’ve mentioned before my to-be-read (TBR) shelves, which are fully loaded with reading material I always swear I’ll get to. I’m determined to get through some of those and get rid of them so we won’t have to move it all. This morning I sat down with a book at 9am and finished it by noon. That left a long afternoon with nothing planned except my daily walk, so of course I ended up packing things. I’m not likely to bake any cakes or dress myself up for a night on the town between now and April, so I’ve packed the useless kitchen and bathroom stuff that’s been collecting dust for months. I’ve gone through my closet and packed the office clothes and dresses I won’t have to wear anytime soon. Four shelves of the books I’m keeping are already boxed, with many more to go.

I just worry that I’ll have the whole place packed by Valentine’s Day if I don’t find something else to fill my time, and soon. Maybe I need to read two books a day.

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