Waiting for the SWAT Team

Right now cardboard boxes are piled to the ceiling of my garage. They are a faceless, tan SWAT team mass huddled around the door, waiting for the signal to invade the premises. If only they would swarm in and fill themselves. That would surely enliven the dreaded packing process.

You would think I would be a pro at this. This will be my third move in less than four years, the eighth of my married life, and the twenty-first of my life. We’re not even in the military or witness protection program.

The first big move of my life came when I was seven years old. That was when we moved from The House in Town to The Yaley Place. But prior to that big move came a minor, but even more memorable move. It was a room-to-room move. I know it doesn’t sound like a life-changing event, but it was. It was my first experience witnessing the dynamics of marriage, although at the time I just knew that Daddy and Mama didn’t see eye-to-eye on the event.

I was six when my nineteen year old sister got married (after completing her first year of college as she’d promised our dad). One day sometime after the wedding, my mom moved my older brother into my sister’s old room. I don’t really remember the details; I just remember that my dad wasn’t too happy that my mom took it upon herself to make the said move without consulting him or waiting for his assistance. He came home from work and discovered my mom’s well-intentioned re-arranging. He headed to the bathroom to wash up, my mom trailed him defending her actions, and I trailed my mother, eavesdropping. We wove from room to room like that, a little three-car train: Daddy the disgruntled engine, Mama the quietly defending box car, and me the curious, concerned little caboose. I’ve since learned that Daddy had a reputation for speaking frankly and letting you know where you stood, but before that day I had never sensed even a hint of discontent between him and Mama. I guess I was learning that derailments happen even in homes where things rarely get off track.

And I guess Daddy got over Mama’s rearranging whim. A year later we made that big move to the Yaley Place, and it was a happy, exciting time for us. I’ll try to remember to remind myself that happy, exciting things do come from moves – even as I fantasize about those SWAT team boxes.


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