diary of a move, 2


one day
you get an offer you can’t refuse
and you say “yes”
and start packing
and in that short, one syllable exhale,
you turn your life upside down.

for two straight weeks
day in and day out,
your family
and strangers alike
come in and help you
put your belongings,
both public and private,
into liquor boxes.
then into trucks
then into the new space.

and when all the boxes
are brought in
and stacked
and stacked
and stacked,
and stacked
and stacked
and stacked,
they leave
to go back to their
orderly abodes
and you wave bye
and go back inside
to try to find a place to
sit and rest.
for just a minute, though,
you’re only
part way through this journey.

you’ve thrown out
and shed
and given away
many, many, many things
because the reality is
that you only have
half the space now
there’s still so very, very much
to situate.

you open boxes
packed by other people
and you’re surprised
to find things
you didn’t even remember
you had.
and sometimes,
many times,
you remember where
you were when you got it.
and though you remember the appeal
it had at the time,
you put it up for
there’s simply not room for everything.

you sift through,
sometimes tempted to
send things away
if they can’t
justify their existence,
if they can’t earn their keep
with obvious, undeniable function.
and other times you come across
something that just makes you smile
or even laugh out loud
and you realize that
laughter may not
dry you off after a shower,
but it can cleanse

you spend
every day
wondering where to put things
and eventually you find a place
and the satisfaction of knowing
that this thing
fits right here
and will stay here forever and ever
is immeasurable.
but you open more boxes the next day,
and you prioritize all over again,
sometimes moving the things placed
so carefully the day before
to make room for something that now
seems more essential.

after a week,
people say things like
“i trust you’re settled in by now,”
and you feel like a
or worse
because there are
unopened boxes
and storage shelves
in the kitchen
and suitcases
in the bathroom.

things get broken,
though not as many
as you might expect,
and it’s funny
how pillowcases
still elude you,
but you can put your hands on the tiniest
little oddball
wire support
for the lamp
that you never used all that much
because it lived in the guest room.
and when you produce that
tiny little oddly-shaped wire
moments before you husband
tosses the seemingly-broken lamp
on the truck, sealing its fate,
his “huh”
is dressed in surprise
with maybe
just maybe
a splash of admiration.


  1. Heather

    People have asked if you’re already settled? Classic! I’ve been in this home for over a year and I unpacked my last box just a week ago. Move through this at your own pace.

    You write the transitions and discoveries of moving so well. I believe I’ll return to this post and read it again when I am bothered by the thumping of my neighbor’s bass. Thank you!

    • whollyjeanne

      thanks, sugar. i needed that!

  2. Meredith

    Somehow unpacking seemingly stretches on forever. I don’t quite understand why that’s the case, but it’s an observation I’ve made on life. I think that’s why I’m so set on a maximum of two more moves in my life. Good luck as you tackle your boxes!

  3. Elizabeth Marie

    Oh, the stacks! I remember the stacks (in that one thing I shared with you, the tall, tall stacks). And the lack of space… Moving is something I’ve done all my life, but I never get used to it, at least not moving houses. Each move does change a person, just a little bit. You’ll get there. When the stacks finally were shorter than I was, breathing got easier.

    By the way, I’ve been in my dreadful, little house for nearly seven years, and I’m still not settled. But it’s possible I was born unsettled. (that’s a kind of a joke I’m making with myself).

    I love being able to follow your process here. Thank you for writing it.

  4. Elizabeth Howard

    “after a week,
    people say things like
    “i trust you’re settled in by now,”
    — Well have you seen “The Incredibles” when the mom calls the dad and says its time to celebrate because she has unpacked the last box? (three years later?) Unpacking a house is like forming a relationship with a man. It takes YEARS sister…
    When we bought our house in CT, our realtor, whom we really liked, made some comment like “People in Connecticut don’t invite people over to see the house until it is ALL fixed up.” I thought, oh fuck. I guess people aren’t coming over then for five years. We liked that realtor, but we never invited her to come and see the house after we moved in.

  5. Mrsmediocrity

    “and you realize that
    laughter may not
    dry you off after a shower,
    but it can cleanse

    perfect, that line. moving is a huge project, physically and emotionally. we get attached to things and places and presence. it’s a process, don’t force yourself, or rush it. one box at a time is all it takes.

  6. jo miller

    hey! It is your life…there is no timetable, there really has never been one,’cept MANY of us could raise our hand& say that we strictly followed one ~ Bullshit! Now is our time, we are going to choose to live -relax-laugh- and do what we would like to do. It will work out & if it doesn’t…so what. We won’t fall apart or let our family down( unless that family member wants to be let down) ~ we need to give the sh-t baskets back to those that own then .You are moving for a reason darling, and I have faith that you will figure it out. I pray for you to live your best life. You have given so much & you will continue to give ( I haven’t figured that part yet lol tho I kinda like the giving 🙂 )
    I wish you well. You know I love you. Take very good care of yourself.
    love jo xo

  7. Jennprentice

    “and you realize that
    laughter may not
    dry you off after a shower,
    but it can cleanse
    I can see that MrsMediocrity already expressed her love for that line. I will second it. To say you have a “way with words” is an understatement. Reading your posts is a true delight.

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