Why moving stinks and staying is better

Why moving stinks and staying is better January 9, 2014

Ben Franklin once said that “three removes is as bad as a fire. . . .” He might have been understating things.

james.thompson, Flickr

Megan and I found a wonderful house, much closer to our church, family, friends, and familiar haunts. Happily, we had a contract on our own home in a very short period of time. The realtor was a rock star. The movers were great, too. But then it got crazy.

I realize mortgage companies caught a lot of flak for offering loans to underemployed golden retrievers in days past. Following the recession, however, guidelines and restrictions seemed to have done a little more than tighten up.

At times I thought Franz Kafka might be working as our underwriter. Complicating things, after all the wrinkles were ironed flat, it turned out that Terry Gilliam was handling the loan for our house buyer; the antics were straight off the cutting-room floor of Brazil.

We were both set to close on the same day, originally. And we did, just several days later than planned. All the while the deal on our new house inched closer to the cliff’s edge as we waited for paper pushers to push things in the right direction. As they never seemed to know what papers to push, this grew problematic.

We lived out of suitcases for a week, though we were only planning on two days. Everything was on the moving truck, including my beard trimmer; Zach Galifianakis would have been proud of my ornamental jaw bush. Yes, it’s a first-world problem, but that’s the world in which I find myself. Feel free to judge.

I prayed a lot. I aged a lot. And then finally it all just happened. Paperwork was signed. Trucks pulled up the drive. Boxes found their way into rooms. And life began again.

“Whoever ‘moves must suffer loss,” chides Philip Freneau’s 1790 poem, “The Departure.” Yes, indeed. But I suppose it’s all about the tradeoffs. It’s been nearly a year now since our madcap adventures in the housing market, and I have to remind myself of how awfully stressful it was. By comparison, things are pretty sweet now. It almost feels as if I’ve always lived in this house.

I have a friend whose father has been in his house now for decades. “Next move is to heaven,” he says. I get the feeling. Now that I’m in the door, I don’t want to go anywhere.

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  • kevin kirkpatrick

    Sounds like your problems were caused by having the wrong loan guy 😉 It didn’t have to be so stressful! Anyway, there is a monastic tradition of “staying in place” that probably has relevance for everybody. I tend to be restless, and get bored easily, and like new things all the time. I have lived in the same house for 7 years now, which is a personal record, and been at the same church for 5. It is serious discipline to stay in place and not change our circumstances in the elusive pursuit of “happiness.” My old pastor used to say “happiness follows you” and I really like that. I waste all my energy pursuing what I think will make me happier in stead of staying in place and pursuing my duty and God and letting happiness follow me. This is a lesson I know in my head better than in my heart.

    • Joel J. Miller

      Here’s a good essay by Fr. Stephen Freeman on the wisdom of staying put.

      As for the wrong loan guy, you don’t know the half of it. Suffice it to say, I went to confession after the experience, twice.

  • Tad Wert

    We’ve lived in our 1954 ranch home in West Meade for 20 years now, and we love it – 10 minute commutes to our jobs and church, 5 minutes away from my parents. However, all the modestly-sized homes in our neighborhood are getting torn down and replaced by huge mansions. I’m wondering if we’ll be able to afford our property taxes in a few years.

    • Joel J. Miller

      The first part of your comment sounds awesome. There’s a real comfort and joy in leading a “small” life. Sorry to hear about the things upsetting it.

  • Brazil is a fantastic movie!