Trial by Moving

By Zile Elliven

I’ve always loved moving. The excitement, the indescribable feeling of new beginnings, and, of course, getting rid of stuff I don’t need. Due to the ephemeral nature of my father’s job as a pastor, I’ve moved more times than I can count, so I’ve gotten really good at it. So it stands to reason that, when faced with a partner who was terrible at it, I’d be at a complete loss.

Let me take you back a few years. It was spring of 2006, and my boyfriend and I had decided to move in together. It was a rash decision, like most are during the “love bubble” phase, but we knew it was meant to be, so we were going boldly forward.

I began packing the moment we’d made the decision. I made endless lists, and contacted friends to lend me the use of their arms and cars, so I didn’t have to hire a moving truck – I was a college student with empty pockets, but an endless amount of moxie. Everyone had been carefully organized and given specific tasks and days to help me so I could get everything done as cheaply and efficiently as possible. I managed to get everything moved and set up in five days, and I felt like a slacker because it took so long.

The Boyfriend’s lease wasn’t up until the end of April, so he was taking a more leisurely approach. He was a happy-go-lucky gamer boy who liked going with the flow and seeing where the world took him. I loved this about him, so I didn’t get alarmed about his approach to moving until I saw his apartment two days before his lease was up. It looked like it had the day I met him – packed to the rafters with all manner of dude-esque accoutrements.

The efficient, Type A girl inside of me was horrified at the mess and inefficiency of it all. I knew there was no way he was going to get done, but Love Bubble me just knew he wasn’t going to press-gang me into working for forty-eight hours straight on his personal garbage dump. He swore up and down that he had friends coming over that evening to help him get it ready, and I believed him.

Cue my shock when I came over the next morning to see that they’d spent the night partying instead of packing. My love bubble was becoming wobbly and thin. But I decided to knuckle down and condense two weeks of packing into twenty-four hours of work. I could do this, I was born for this. Or so I told myself.

Fast-forward to ten hours later, and the love bubble was gone. It had popped so hard, the International Space Station heard it. I’d decided I was moving out of our shared apartment the second we had him moved in. I was so tired and miserable from helping a hoarder discard and move his precious possessions that I had decided I was never going to speak to the man again. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my life with someone who would make me – a chronic wanderer – go through such a nightmarish experience every time I wanted to pick up and leave to find a new adventure.

The Boyfriend knew it too; the poor boy had fallen into a hopeless silence by the end of the day. I’d broken his spirit. He had even stopped fighting to keep his boxes of broken toys and torn, dirty school papers from grade school. We both knew the end was near.

Then something interesting happened. At this point in the evening, I was a hot, sweaty ball of seething anger, and probably should have been wearing a sign that read, “Don’t poke the bear.” I was done with a capital D, but The Boyfriend was a different story. One of his elderly neighbors was struggling to drag something out of his apartment to the dumpster. It was an unwieldy couch covered in jagged, rusty nails.

The Boyfriend didn’t even think twice, he ran over to the man and offered to help. Then he sat and chatted casually for a few minutes, being his kind, adorable self with a complete stranger. He was exhausted, stressed and on a deadline, but he was still able to find the man I’d fallen in love with and share him with a person in need. He hadn’t done it to impress anyone. He hadn’t done it for any sort of reward. He did it because it would have been unnatural for him not to do so.

All of my rage and self-righteous indignation dropped away from me in an instant, and I was awash in feelings of shame and love. Hoarding issues aside, The Boyfriend was the kindest, most unselfish person I’d ever met. I realized then, as I stood in the dark watching the scene in front of me, that there wasn’t much I wasn’t willing to deal with in order to have that in my life. To have him in my life.

I didn’t tell him I’d seen him, or about the shift inside me, but when he came back inside for another box of stuff, I flung my arms around him and kissed the strawberry shortcake out of him. The rest of the evening was still hard, and we almost didn’t make it out in time, but it was easier than the first half of the day had been. We joked and laughed and fell more in love.

Ten years and two kids later, moving is still a mess for us, but we expect it now and plan accordingly. And every time I move, I remember the first time we moved together, and I smile to myself because I see through the layer of years and remember the core of my husband. A kind, unselfish man to this very day.

About this writer

  • Zile Elliven

    Zile Elliven

    Zile Elliven is a writer, cat goddess, and full-time mom. You can find her on Twitter (spending far more time than she should) @ZileElliven.

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2 Responses to “Trial by Moving”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    My family also moved every few years (military). One would think I would have learned from it–NOT. So happy you were able to see through the”stuff” and find Boyfriend’s strengths! Good read!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    My daughter, a Type A, married a collector of dude things, and was appalled at first, but has since adjusted. Enjoyed your story.

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