Over the last several days I’ve been totally immersed in moving. My mailing address has not changed, nor has my physical space, but I’m in a whole new place. I’ve entered the world of Windows 7. But never fear, this post is about the mental process I’ve been going through as I make this transition — which is not yet finished — not about computer stuff.
As I sorted through files to make sure my C: drive was backed up before I began the installation, I was strongly reminded of the packing we did before we moved from Washington to Pennsylvania twenty-five ago. I began feeling similarly nostalgic about the XP home I’ve lived and worked in for eight years now.
When I finally got brave and made that last click that finalized my commitment to installing, I was torn. I was leaving behind a huge chunk of my past and forging ahead into a brave new world. I did not know what lay ahead, what hurdles I’d have to overcome.
As the CD reader spun, I did what any self-respecting life writer would do (that is, any self-respecting life writer who has an old repurposed laptop camped at her elbow, although a pad of paper and pencil would work equally well). I swiveled my chair to the left, opened a new document, and began writing. I wrote about my feelings as the installation progressed. Sadness, hope, dread ... all of it. Then I began seeing similarities to physical moves, to times in my life when I’ve had to let go of the past in order to move forward.
The document isn’t finished, but it has grown rather long and is taking a distinct shape. As I wrote, I found that each stage of the process invoked memories. I’ve come to see that moving into a new virtual home is a perfect metaphor for moving in general, physical, mental or spiritual. The operating system is the frame or skeleton of the house. Once the OS (in this case Windows) is in place, you have to divide the space into “rooms” by installing programs like Word, PowerPoint, Firefox, you name it. You can even decorate your new home with features like a new desktop picture, a color scheme, “skins” for some programs, or desktop gadgets.
Ultimately, once the structure is finished, it’s time to move in. All those folders and files need to be “unpacked” and put away.
Anyone who has ever changed residences knows how memory works overtime as you pack and unpack, and wear yourself out with the challenges of getting everything set up and squared away. Moving to a new computer is the same. The stages of the process serve as both memory triggers and a series of hooks for hanging and organizing those memories.
I intend to keep working on that document.
Write now: about a moving experience you’ve had. Capture the feelings you recall having before, during and after. Focus on those feelings and see what additional memories they bring forth. You may hit a rich new lode of material.