IMG_3676About every other year–this was one of those–I am seized by a desire to move back down South.  I got the fever real bad this past January, and by the time I got to Georgia at the end of February, I was delirious. I spent a month there, and a week at a beach on the Florida Gulf, and I knew the cure.

As soon as I got back to Homer, I got estimates from moving companies and connected with a realtor in northeast Georgia, out of metro Atlanta’s traffic and smog. I decided Dahlonega was the right place. It’s a small city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of my beloved Appalachia, and only an hour from where a bunch of my family lives.

The University of North Georgia is in Dahlonega (the singer Zac Brown, who recently moved to Homer and is building a house that has everyone all gaga, went to school there probably when it was North Georgia Military College). I started following the Lumpkin County Democrats Facebook page and discovered all over again brilliant Mike Lukovich’s cartoons in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I looked at cars online and decided a snappy little Fiat would be affordable and a lot of fun.

This would be my twenty-fifth move including the four I made with my parents—first when I was six months old; next when I was two; and the next two times I was still a minor dependent, and we moved just to another part of town.  I didn’t even have to change schools. No big deal.

It gets harder the older you get. Some psychologists say it’s as traumatic as divorce or the death of a partner. Listen, I have experienced the former, and nearly the latter. I can tell you, for sure, that moving is not nearly as bad. Sure, you move and wake up the next day, and your bed is on the wrong side of the room. Your side of the bed is not the same as it was the night before; or now there’s no one in the bed with you. The cat won’t come out from under the bed. You’re confused. The cat’s confused and jets out the door heading back to its familiar territory.

Hershey, a chocolate point Siamese, who lived to be nearly 18 years old and bridged two marriages, made his way across town back to the house my then husband and I had moved from. This is the guy who nearly died several times. Two days in a row he did this, I mean the cat ran away, until he finally got it—that he had a new territory and everything was going to be okay.

How to move is a big question, and as far as I’m concerned there are two options: (1) professional movers and (2) do-it-yourself with a rented truck. When I moved to Alaska six years ago, I used professional movers and packers for the first time, and even though I got rid of stuff beyond what I’d already done to facilitate previous transitions, it was obscenely expensive—more than double the average cost of an interstate move (according to that’s $4,300). One estimator who gave me a quote suggested, “Well, ma’am, if it was me, I’d sell everything and start over.” Obviously, he didn’t give a rip about art and collectibles, and he certainly wasn’t aware of the limited selection and higher cost of everything in the Last Frontier. Plus, I hated it when he called me “ma’am.” He was at least my age. His company did not get the contract.

Do-it-yourself with rented truck has been the modus operandi for most of the local, intrastate, and interstate moves I’ve made in the last half century. While I don’t enjoy packing, loading, and unloading, I’ve been the truck driver in the years since I’ve been single, and I get a big kick out of this part of the experience. This is how I made the move from the apartment I lived in when I first came to Homer, and it worked out great because my sister Joy was here on vacation and helped me pack, load, and unload after she got over the flu. Two super skinny guys who worked for an expediter outfit here in town loaded and unloaded the heavy stuff which included my paternal grandfather’s oak roll-top desk that weighs a ton even when you take out all the drawers and remove the top with the tambour. It’s massive, and no one wants it. For reasons that I’ll get to in a second, this is not the way I will be moving back to the South.

IMG_3674For me, the worst part of moving is packing. As the out-of-here date approaches, I experience several days, typically three, of mental paralysis as I look around at my worldly possessions wondering where it all came from and why on earth I have most of it. I mean, why a bakelite comb shaped like a whale? A copy of The Diary of Samuel Pepys edited in 1949? A metal sign that advertises, in Spanish, a liquid to rid animals of worms and lice. Considering the bull who served as the model, I thought it served another purpose until I googled a translation of the text.

For the move back down South, a rental truck is the way to go were it not for my absolute, total, and complete revulsion toward the cross-continent drive. Many people consider this the mother of all road trips, and I know some great people who have done it—some multiple times. Maybe it’s something every patriotic American citizen should experience at least once in a lifetime, but I’m not ever doing it. You’ll just have to take my word that I still love the U.S.A.  Besides, by the time you pay for motel rooms and meals, it costs as much as going with the pros.

People move for lots of reasons. Citing results of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015-2016 questionnaire, the American Moving and Storage Association reports that people in the this country move for 19 reasons. “Wanting new or better home/apartment” ranks at the top with 17.4 percent, followed by “To establish own household” at 12.2 percent. Except for “Health reasons” (1.8 percent), “Foreclosure/eviction” (0.9 percent), and “Natural disaster” (0.1 percent), I can identify with most of them.

For me now, moving back to the South, to Georgia, means being close to most of my family and friends who are like family. It’s within reasonable range of all the rest of them who aren’t in the South so that frequent visits wouldn’t be unaffordable. So I’ve decided not to move.

I confess—and this is hard to do, seriously—that I’m too attached to “things.” I can easily get rid of the whale comb, but I like having a copy of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. I read it—parts of it fairly often. I am not kidding. Well, occasionally. Like last week when I read Christopher Buckley’s The Judge Hunter. Or when I watched the films Stage Beauty and Restoration. I love the paintings, drawings, and pottery I’ve collected. I really like my sofa and the leather chair I gave my departed husband for his sixtieth birthday. And, for most of the time, I love living in Homer, Alaska. I love it when my older son and I pass each other on Pioneer Avenue. I love having my grandson come and, without rolling his eyes, carefully mow the labyrinth in the backyard. I love the clean air. I could go on and on.

And I know this: Moving fever never strikes in the summer, so I can only attribute it to a sub-clinical  case of SADD. I figure that for what I would spend to move again, I can make a bunch of trips Outside for the cure. Watch out, because you may become a destination.


Genie Hambrick ©2018