The Art of Moving – Letting Go and Embracing Change
In December, 2009 we moved into our “second home” in Amagansett, NY. We were both so excited to be back on the East Coast again and have a life that included the four seasons as opposed to the continual state of summer of Los Angeles. We also really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and the more bucolic lifestyle, other than the crazy summer months, that the East End of Long Island has to offer. Originally our goal was to spend around 40% of our time in Amagansett with the rest of our time back in Los Angeles. After a few years it became very clear to us that we wanted to stay longer on the East Coast and less on the West Coast. So, about 4 years ago we began planning for our permanent move to Amagansett from Los Angeles. It was a long process of purchasing more properties to create our “Compound”. Our vision was to have a place where family and friends could come and spend time with us and enjoy their own time exploring what the East End is all about.
However, this was no small undertaking. To complete the vision of our Compound we had to build the “Carriage House” for us to live in, convert the house we originally purchased into a “Guest House” and build a Cottage for my mother to live in. Given that this was going to be such a long process we didn’t have a sense of urgency about selling our home in Los Angeles. However, as the Carriage House neared completion and the Cottage project started we recognized that we better get moving on listing and selling our house in Los Angeles soon. That also means preparing to move.
Let’s start off by saying I don’t like all the work that goes into moving. Not that I mind working, but the level of disarray in your surroundings and disruption to your life is difficult for me, a Virgo, to cope with. However, once we made the decision to move, I engaged my trusted organizing professionals, Chris McKenry, Rosalind Lakomy and John Trosko, my long time friend and designer, Connie McCreight, and our invaluable personal assistant, Jennifer Adams, to help begin thinking through the move and then executing it. Even though I had a lot of help, there are still so many decisions about what goes with us and which house does it go to – Carriage, Guest or Cottage, what gets donated and what gets trashed. To say the least, it was mind numbing. However, I have to say having Ros and John, who have done this countless times across country, required less of our involvement.
What I called the “great purge” was a very emotionally difficult process. Deciding what possession you no longer had a place for, room for, etc. requires you to detach yourself from the idea of every thing has meaning to you. Our possessions do have different memories attached to them, but are they necessary or can you still hold those memories close in your heart without them around to remind you? There were a few that still held a great deal sentimental value, such as my dining room table and chairs. I had it for over 25 years and it had been with me through happy and some sad times. It deserved a home where it would be loved and cared for. I knew that Jennifer would give it that home. And while it was hard to part with it, I felt better about it in the end.
Then there is the amount of stuff in your closets, drawers and other hiding placing in your house. This stuff has to be sorted through for what can be used by others, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, Veterans organizations, you name it. It is easy to just get a dumpster and throw it all out, but in a society that is so wasteful I didn’t want to think that we still couldn’t help others if we just took the time to do it. For instance, we had 63 rolls of beautiful wallpaper that we had no use for anymore. Habitat for Humanity was happy to have it to use in their home building projects. It made me feel good that someone’s home would be a little brighter with some lovely wallpaper.
And, last but not least, the true throw away pile. Ros and John were very good at finding good homes for items that could be donated so this pile was a lot smaller.
In the middle of all of this, our realtor advised us that we should “stage” our house to improve the flow of buyers. Okay, so Howie, Winston, Wallis and I packed up our bags and moved to Amagansett 4 months ahead of the actual move. The week before we actually left our home in Los Angeles, it was kind of a strange goodbye tour. Some people were around to see and others weren’t around or had other plans. What we found, however, was that we would miss people who really didn’t know what an important part of our lives they had become. Our Vietnamese manicurists, Kathy, Julie, Holly, Helen and Kelly were some of the hardest people leave. Each time we came to their salon they all had such beautiful and genuine smiles and affection for us, especially Howie, who they called “Papa”. These women had worked so hard to build their business into one of the most successful nail salons in Beverly Hills with a large and loyal clientele. They all came to the United States as young children with no English skills, yet look what they achieved. We really admire them and miss them.
Once the move actually became real we started to look to building a great life and future in our new home. There is all the administrivia that you have to do, get a new drivers license, register your cars, register to vote…it goes on and on. The day we went to the NY DMV to exchange our CA drivers licenses was an out of body experience. The DMV is the great equalizer of humanity. Actually I think every politician should have to go there and sit for 3 hours for their turn with no handlers allowed to enjoy the experience. But I digress. When I actually handed my CA drivers license over to the clerk I felt like I was handing over a part of myself. I had a CA drivers license for 38 years. I thought about taking a picture of it, but I didn’t. I decided that not taking a picture of was symbolic of embracing change and letting go.
Moving in was 2 weeks of organized chaos. Once again, the cavalry of Chris, Ros, John, Jennifer and Connie were here in Amagansett moving us in, organizing us, reorganizing the Guest House and making sure we were comfortably settled in our new forever home. Winston and Wallis moved in once everything was done. Winston had a small panic attack for about an hour and Wallis just strutted around like finally THIS place is what she expects, no less. The trade parade was a constant flow for over a month, but now it is down to a trickle.
The Guest House has been full almost every day in July and more coming this month. We are making new friends and keeping up with our “well established” friends. I read an article in the New York Times today, “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?”, by Kate Murphy. One part of the article particularly rang true for me related to moving from a life and friends we had known for such a long time. It reads, “So it’s worth identifying who among the many people you encounter in your life are truly friends. Who makes time for you? Whose company enlivens, enriches and maybe even humbles you? Whom would you miss? Who would miss you?” I found myself asking the same questions and was actually not surprised at my answers. She continues, “As the saying goes, “Show me your friends and I will show you who you are.” I guess for me that means who I am will continue to be shaped by the new friends in this next part of my life. Stay tuned…..