The end of each past year has been characterized by lots of cardboard boxes, the annoying sound of packing tape being opened, and lots of sweaty DC summer moving days. In the past few years since being at college I’ve packed up and moved every year, each time (I think) becoming more of a master of packing and unpacking.
I feel like I have my routine down by now: I always start out with a very organized system but somehow always end up throwing my last things into a random box of junk. Each year I seem to accumulate even more stuff and have gotten very creative with storage and have a newfound talent for fitting lots of things into a very small space. Last week I moved into my new place that I’ll be in for my senior year of college and went through what is, I guess, my last ever college move in.
After spending four days straight moving into the new place (I quite literally did not really leave the house in four days and just unpacked, organized, and cleaned the whole time) I found myself reflecting on all the times I’ve moved in over the past few years. Maybe it was the exhaustion hitting me, but I feel like there’s something to reflect on and share here.
Moving is a seemingly mundane thing; everyone does it and in fact most college students do it each year. It’s something that no one ever really looks forward to and it seems to consume your life both leading up to and after the big day. As someone who really likes to settle into their place and has a lot of stuff, I always dread moving. It’s always the kind of thing where in the moment I’m like, “how on earth do I have this much stuff” and then a week later I think back and I’m like, “oh that was easy.”
I remember my first college move in day way back in 2021 (which really is not that long ago, but feels like forever ago). We were moving into my dorm room and I remember we spent the week before the big day in and out of target, the container store, and other random homeware stores. I remember for a few weeks after I had moved in it didn’t really feel like that space was mine because everything there was so new and unfamiliar. That’s something that has changed over the past few move ins; even though I’ve been moving into a new place each time, I now have my own things that I’ve brought with me to each place I’ve lived in and those are really what make the new place feel home-like and familiar.
Another comparison that I think is kind of funny is that in my first ever time moving myself into a new place, I could not relax or sleep soundly there for weeks – it just didn’t feel like home! The past few times that I’ve moved into new spaces, I’ve literally just been so exhausted that I’ve collapsed into bed and passed out each time which just goes to show how comfortable I’ve gotten with the process of picking up all my stuff and moving to a new place.
However, the biggest thing that I wanted to reflect on and that I think moving has taught me was about discerning what’s really important; I can have lots of new items around me, but what really matters is the simple few things that make me feel at home. To me, those are things like having my same pillowcases and sheets on my bed no matter where it is, my bulletin board with all my photos and mementos, and my trusty diffuser with my favorite scent blowing through my room. Even without those things, I feel like moving around has taught me what really constitutes and home-like environment. To me, it’s those few items that make me feel at peace and calm, but it’s also just other non-physical things like the sunlight pouring through my window in the early morning, regardless of which house I’m in. It’s the soft chirp of bird song wherever I am in the world that reminds me of being back home in Dubai. And it’s the people and personalities that fill the space. All of those pieces fit together this little mosaic of home that I’ve managed to build up and bring with me to each of my homes over the past few years.
So while I may not be looking forward to moving out at the end of this year again, I will say that I’m glad that I now have a better idea of what I need to take with me and what I need to search for in every home that I make. And as I compare my last college move in to my first ever one, the biggest physical difference may be that I have a lot more stuff, but I think the most profound difference is that I’m able to be more comfortable in a new space and a new situation because I know what those key things that I need around me to make me feel at home are.
I’m sitting here writing this blog post at my new desk in the new house and I know that this spot is going to be home to many more blog posts in my senior year!
See you next week,