We Made It Out Of Jerz!
Getting out of Jersey was ridiculous. First of all, I was packing for what felt like three months, although it was technically 2-3 weeks. I didn't perceive us to have "too much stuff" beforehand because I don't keep a cluttered house (often messy, yes, but no pockets of "I'll hide this now and deal with it later," because I constantly go through and weed things out). But... we had way too much stuff. So much stuff. How do we collect so much stuff?
The stuff seemed to multiply around every one box that I packed, like the birthday candles that re-light each time you blow them out. It was seemingly endless, massively frustrating and admittedly a smidge amusing (in a 'how is this happening or even possible, and am I being Punk'd?' kind of way).
I suppose that's the point of this entire endeavor my family is embarking upon. Less stuff, more meaningful experience.
The process was made harder by the fact that we weren't in a throw-it-all-in-boxes-and-move-from-here-to-there situation. In that situation, it really doesn't totally matter how you move it. Just pack the stuff carefully and hope that nothing gets broken. That, right now, sounds dreamy.
But we are hitting the road for an indeterminate amount of time. So there were layers and levels and decisions to be made at every turn. Was it an item we truly wouldn't need unless we were in a home (i.e sleeper couch = easy example and fairly easy to determine), was it an item for the trailer (somewhat easy to determine, but due to inexperience, included many moments of not sure-ity) or was it a 'tweener' item that I had to beg permission to store at my parents' home lest we need it along the way (a pile which can't really be very big because they aren't the storage facility)?
Those decisions were paralyzing me.
My packing journey was so endless that when the movers arrived, I was still not ready. There were piles of "what do I do with this?" in nearly every room (the answer to that, it turns out, is throw it in garbage bags and onto the truck). So packing the truck in Jersey City (with Catlow Movers) was a nightmare. But getting to that point was just as bad.
Combining my packing woes with the fact that I had to wrap up two writing projects that I'm so excited about (you will see them in a month or less!), but sucked many hours out of each day, and the fact that I was playing a mental game of "Oh my God, I'm leaving Jersey City! But what about all the restaurants and things I haven't yet been able to do? And the people I wanted to meet up with?!" made the full picture a recipe for overload paralysis.
Writing projects, for me, need a certain level of focus. When extracting words from my head, it does not help to have a lot of mind-paralyzing distractions in the mix. I lamented to my Love one day, "Why isn't this coming out!? I can tell you the story right now, but I just can't translate it onto this page!" To which he replied sarcastically, "Oh, I don't know. We're moving. Packing up our lives. Leaving town. Hitting the road in an RV, which we've never done... I don't know, but your mind might be in a few too many places." Right. Thankfully, the words eventually flowed and I left a little bit of myself behind in Jersey City.
The list of things-I-didn't-yet-do-in-Jersey-City was endless, though. With new restaurants opening up every week, there was no hope for me. Broa, Raval, Third and Vine, South House, Satis Bistro, Roman Nose, the tasting menu at thirty acres and so many more were on my absolutely-dying-to-try list, but with the exception of South House, it just didn't happen. I'm still sad, and so are my tastebuds.
While I have done and seen a lot in downtown Jersey City this year, there was much to explore elsewhere that I'd just started to discover. Plus, downtown is in the middle of rearranging itself and a few new situations will be opening up in September and I won't be able to see them. More sad panda.
Thankfully, I did manage to stock up on my favorite Jersey City products, try South House, go to Live at the Lumberyard in the Heights, the 6th Borough Market, the Village Block Party, eat my weight (that's a lot) in Torico ice cream, visit Le Noir Home in McGinley Square and BBQ on our deck a few more times. I tried to incorporate one fun break for the family into every day in those final two weeks. It added to the craziness, but also to some level of sanity.
Then, there was the whole friend thing. It always seems to take a full year to settle into a new place and actually meet good friends and people you vibe with, and I'd only just started to do that when we made our decision to hit the road. Through social media and my daughter's school, I'd very recently met a few strong women/amazing moms who I know would have become great friends. Hopefully we'll stay in touch.
Lastly, you (the greater you) just seemed to catch on to what I was doing with B+aBBQ, and I was getting pitches left and right on Jersey City greatness to cover and write about just as I was closing that chapter that were hard to say no to.
Ain't it always the way? Needless to say, all of the above made it hard to leave.
Also making it hard to leave was Budget rental trucks, who called twelve hours before our move to say they did not, and would not, have a truck for us. I spent two hours that night calling and searching for a replacement, which I found, but it caused me to miss the last Grove Street Farmers' Market. I was hoping to grab a few last minute items and say goodbye -- both literally, to some folks, and figuratively to the city I loved, for my own peace of mind.
The lack of a moving truck at the last minute helped frost the cake on that final bit of frazzle and ensured that I didn't finish packing. I was in stressimus maximus tears on moving day, screaming at my family and eventually hiding in the rooms that had already been thrown in the truck to clean them in pissed off solitude. It was ugly.
But now, it's done. The unpacking process with Above and Beyond Moving and Storage in Peterborough, NH — into a 10x20' storage space, and my parents' basement (a holding place until we pick up the trailer at the end of this week) — was much smoother and more peaceful. I didn't cry. Or scream. In fact, I was smiling, happy and laughing the whole time. What a difference a day makes.
When we pulled the door shut on the storage space, it seemed the weight of a massive boulder was lifted from my shoulders. We were free to take a break and become whole, healthy people again.
Slowly (very slowly), my mind is shifting from what I left behind and didn't get to do in Jersey City to the adventure and opportunities ahead. I'm making peace with all that was, all that is and all that will be. I'm resting, which is needed on a level beyond my control. I'm so deeply and indescribably tired, I could probably sleep a full night and a two+ hour nap every day for a month and then, maybe, feel ready to roll. A few adult beverages and quiet tasks like peeling corn and cooking are helping, too.
We have about three weeks in New Hampshire to get ready. My sister (aka best friend in the world, and closest confidante despite the thousands of miles between us) and brother-in-law are visiting from Australia, so I am soaking up this time with them, and the now-rare time for my side of the family to spend together. It's really blissful.
I have a few more Jersey City posts to share in the next week or two that I couldn't get to in the above-described madness, and I will also be sharing our preparation-to-leave process -- you need an official introduction to our new trailer, "Spriglet," as soon as we pick it up! -- over the next three weeks as we get ready.
What a lesson in letting go, already. Life always serves up exactly what we need to take a bite of, exactly when we need to eat it. You just need to open your mouth.
So, here we go! So long, Jerz. Thanks for everything -- I mean that.