Submitted by Joey Cahue
I knew the struggle of moving from the start. The arrangements that consisted of selling the house, ordering moving trucks, endless amounts of packing, the goodbyes, and so on. I never thought I would have to be put through that never-ending process because I was content with where I was until it all got torn away from me to move a thousand miles away from home.
Originally born in Chicago, I was brought into the moving scenery at the young age of five years old. We only moved about forty minutes out from the city and sought out a safer environment in the southwest suburbs. There’s not much of that I remember, other than one day being told that this was my new home and that I would start at a new preschool. As time progressed, I’d gotten comfortable in my new home and adjusted to the suburban ways of living. Nothing but the content and comfortable in my environment, I didn’t know my familiar lifestyle would twist upside down years down the line.
While relaxing at home on a briskly frigid November Sunday afternoon in my basement, watching movies, my parents called my older brother and me upstairs. I could hear the uncertainty and hesitation in their trembling voices as they announced my father’s job promotion. In the beginning, I felt proud of him and wasn’t sure why they spoke with such doubt lingering in their voices. My mother then announced that this promotion would cause us to move. My immediate thoughts took over and I assumed the move wouldn’t be far, and just maybe to another part of Illinois until my father shattered my assumptions and announced the move was to Houston, Texas.
I didn’t know where to go from there. Every question I had was lost in the mental game of Scrabble in my mind. My comfortable way of living all to be destroyed by one simple move. I’ve adjusted perfectly to where we were, made friends, enjoyed school, enjoyed after school extra circulars and more. The life I spent building for myself for the past six years prior to moving out of the city all began to seem like a waste. More questions, thoughts, and assumptions raced through my mind as fear, anger, and anxiety washed over the joyfulness over my father’s promotion. How would I make all new friends again? How would I recreate everything I spent this time creating?
After what seemed like a decade spent in my room, I worked up the courage to settle down and talk to my parents. I needed answers to my questions before my thoughts and fears simultaneously attacked my mind again. The ultimatum was that my father accepted the job promotion, as long as my brother and I was allowed to finish our school year in Illinois, causing us to move in the summer. That was as far as it could get. I didn’t agree with it, I didn’t agree with anything in this plan, but it prolonged my time in Illinois and that was what I needed most. I wasn’t ready to package up my life and ship it away a thousand miles away. Time flew by in the blink of an eye, and in a strange way, I wish it went by faster so this process could resemble removing a bandage – getting everything over with at once.
The preparation of constant phone calls on moving trucks, showings to sell our house, slowly packaging items I wouldn’t need until next fall all started to consume our daily schedules. From the stuffed animals to the framed photos slowly making their way out of my room and into their designated boxes, my room wasn’t my room anymore. My house wasn’t my house anymore, figuratively and literally. Labeled boxes in capitalized block letters started to take over every corner of the house. This was happening and there’s no way I could stop it.
Physically, packing was the most painful, but the goodbyes take the cake for being the most emotionally painful. A straight two weeks of goodbyes were what my life became of for my last moments in Illinois. The process started to feel routine, but the pain never diminished.
The trucks were all loaded and our final stop in the Midwest was at Midway Airport. Flying away from the calm late June breeze, just to enter the rude welcoming of the boiling southern weather smacked me in the face. We rented a car until all our vehicles were transported to drive to our new home. The house was gorgeous and much bigger than the one I had back home, but it wasn’t home. The moving truck arrived shortly after we did, and movers started to fill the space of the empty house. Between the entourage of movers filling the house with boxes and my family members, the house still felt empty.
Each day, we selected smaller boxes to unpack by importance. Clothing, shoes, bathroom necessities, blankets, pillows, everything that should make a house feel like home. I’d spent a long time unpacking my tangibles, remembering the memories they brought me back in Illinois. It was a bittersweet experience that made me feel connected to home, so connected, that I prolonged my unpacking for days just to bask in the little bit of happiness it brought me. Our house was finally organized and somewhat unpacked, the remaining boxes found home in our garage. Trying to adjust to my new settings wasn’t easy, but I made an attempt to familiarize myself with the new surroundings of Houston day by day, just to try and make my parents happy. I looked at the clouds and sunlight of the south and wondered what I’d be doing if I were still back home. I was isolated and out of the loop with no desire to attempt finding comfort.
August rolled around and yet again, my life did another 360. I started sixth grade without a single friend. Everyone knew each other from their former elementary school and made careless small talk about their summers. I remembered what that was like back home, the awkwardness of trying to make light conversation with people you knew, but didn’t consider as friends and how much social anxiety that brought me. This was the first time in my life where I wished I was in their shoes, dreading the small talk was better than being the new face in a sea of students.
Life dragged on and getting through the day felt like a week. My entire family was unsatisfied with the south. We longed for everything that reminded us of home. Whether it was the fluctuating four seasons, decent pizza, our friends, and family, we wanted everything back. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, and quality comes before quantity. Fortunately, but also, unfortunately, my parents didn’t come to this realization until two and a half years of dissatisfaction that continuously dragged on. As a family, we’d decided the south wasn’t for us and we needed to go home, where our hearts were. My parents tackled arrangements for our move back to Illinois faster than they did for our move to Texas. The house was on the market immediately, and I began filling the same boxes with my belongings to go back home. Plans for transferring schools that would set in stone after Christmas break was made, so that I could finish my eighth-grade year with the friends I should’ve entered middle school within the first place. For the first time, I never thought I’d be so happy to see a moving truck.
Submitted by Joey Cahue
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