A Life in Boxes

Star Trek Voyager is one of my favorite tv series. I just love it. Kate Mulgrew, who plays Captain Janeway, is my very favorite actress, and the story lines and tropes used have always spoken to me.

If you’re not familiar with Voyager, the basic premise is that they are lost. In the first episode, they are catapulted from the alpha to the delta quadrant by a being called the caretaker, and the entire series focuses on their long journey home.

As someone who has had little control over where I’ve lived throughout my adult life, this intrigued me. More than once, I was catapulted into a new appointment with the Army without any regard to my wishes – any input from me at all – actually. I would get a call saying, “you’re moving,” and off I’d go.

“Call day,” as we all came to know it, was the third Wednesday in May every year. So many of us came to dread it – but we knew it was coming. We knew that there was a solid chance that we could receive ‘marching orders’, so there was time to brace ourselves mentally and emotionally for the transition.

When I left the Army 5 years ago, I stayed with my friend Maureen in her basement for several months until I figured out if I really wanted to be in Carlisle for good, and then I found a tiny, but centrally located, apartment in my price range downtown. On the day I picked up the keys, the landlord asked, “How long do you think you’ll be renting from me?” I looked at him square in the face and said, “Forever. I’ve moved enough for more than a lifetime.”

And that was that.

It was a good relationship. I paid my rent, he let me paint and upgrade the apartment, I looked out for things, he let me grow sunflowers in the tiny dirt piles outside the front door.

I was home.

And then – he sold the building.

Suddenly, out of the blue, I had to move.

And fast.

30 day notices went out two days after Thanksgiving, saying that we all had to be out by December 31.

Left. Field.

This wasn’t the third Wednesday in May….this was CHRISTMAS for god’s sake!

BUT I JUST PAINTED!

BUT I JUST BOUGHT MY CHRISTMAS TREE!

BUT I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!

Moving was never fun in the Army, but you knew what you were getting into when you signed on.

I didn’t sign on for this.

I panicked.

Where would I go?

I’m still just getting my feet back underneath me, financially. I had JUST worked out my 2016 budget. What now?

Not to mention that there’s NOTHING available this time of year.

I texted a friend. Sat in her studio and sobbed.

Luckily, SHE does not come equipped with a panic button. So she let me freak out for about 15 minutes, and then just calmly said, “we’ll just have to figure out a plan.”

And that’s what we’ve done.

It’s been interesting, shifting my life around at Christmas.  I’m used to December being crazy with bell ringing and angel trees and advent “stuff”…but I’m not used to ‘losing’ Christmas. Even when I was still an officer, Christmas was MY time of year. I love everything about it. Even embraced the craziness of Army life.

But this year….

There are no decorations – the contents of my apartment are disappearing into boxes.

There won’t be my Christmas Eve tradition of clipping the real candles to my tree and sitting babysitting them while the flames flicker and lights twinkle, listening to Christmas music and sipping tea.

For the first time in 15 years, Christin’s annual Christmas movie pajama party is cancelled – because I’ll have no place to hold it.

It’s as if Christmas has disappeared.

Yes, I’ve moved my Christmas tree to work, where it’s set up and glowing all day long, and I can look at our stockings hung off the table with care. Yes, I have a place to sleep from now until May, which I’m so beyond grateful for.

As the days have passed, my panic has subsided as plans have solidified. And I’m realizing something amazing.

I am not alone.

I’ve been overwhelmed every day at the fact that people have stepped in with offers of house sitting gigs, places to store my things, help moving, someone to take my cat…..the list goes on.

And it’s completely overwhelming – to the point that I haven’t found the words for it yet. I’m sure that, once the dust settles, it will be a post unto itself, but for now….I’m just speechless. And let me tell you, right now, it’s that knowledge – that I’m part of a real COMMUNITY, that keeps me going.

My friend Antonia remarked the other night, as we sat at her dining room table, that I am reaping what I’ve sown over the past near decade that I’ve been affiliated with Carlisle [both as an officer and since I came back]. I’m not sure if I’m totally on board with that thought yet…but I’m working on it.

SO….

My boxes are packed, and tomorrow is moving day.

One last night in what has come to be known as “Kapp Cottage.”

And my heart is heavy.

Outside of 9/11 and leaving the Army, this has been two of the most difficult weeks of my entire life.

And I can’t pretend that everything is okay right now, because it isn’t.

But I can state what I am sure of –

I’ve survived up to this point.

I will survive again.

I am not alone.

And THAT gives me the hope that it will be.

Maybe not today.

Or tomorrow.

But it will be.

I’m sure.

 

 

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