Moving Alone

This post is part of a larger media experiment describing why, and how, Clef moved to Oakland. If you want to read more, visit the timeline at oakland.is/home or tell us your thoughts with #oaklandis on Twitter.

I think box manufacturers purposefully make boxes just a little too awkwardly shaped and large. So when you try to move them by yourself, it’s nearly impossible, but when you have another person, it’s way too easy.

We'd missed it.

The lease was up and we hadn't found another place, so we had to move into my parents’ house in Los Altos.

Actually, I had to move into my parent’s house in Los Altos. Jesse was backpacking for the weekend with his father and brother in the Sierras, something he’d planned months ago, and Brennen was speaking at WordCamp in Providence. I wasn’t angry they were gone and I didn’t feel like they deserted me. I just had to move everything by myself, and that sucks. A certain surreal feeling arises when profound emotion is mixed with administrative tasks. I’ve felt it when family dies and everyone is crying and sad, but the mortician still needs papers signed for the cremation and arrangements need to be made for the funeral, and we have to decide what type of flowers to have and what box to pick to hold the ashes.1 I’m still not sure whether the mundane tasks help ease emotional pain or make it worse.

I can’t in good faith compare moving to a family death–that would be ridiculous. But I was still terrified. I had no sense of permanence. How long would we be staying with my dad? Two weeks? A month? A year? How long would it be until the commute made me lose it?2

Working at a startup means experiencing uncertainty every day. That takes a toll, but we bear it willingly because we love what we’re doing. But I don’t want everything in my life to be like that. I want to come back to a home, not just a place to sleep. I need a little certainty too. I don’t want to think about where I’ll be living in two weeks when I’m trying to help build a company that will last years.

I was terrified, and I was alone. And there the boxes and suitcases were by the door, mocking me. So I did what people do when they’re scared and unsure about the monolithic future. I started the administrative tasks. I sat for a moment, grabbed two smaller bags and began loading up the car.

The next piece in this series is Wandering Eyes.

  1. It’s weird because you’re not sure whether the mortician is trying to upsell you. I wonder if the mortician feels guilty about how easy that is.
  2. Turns out, it was about two weeks. See the 10 hour move.