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Mover needs a hearty dose of optimism

July 12, 1998

Terry TalbertWhoever invented moving ought to be shot. Summarily, with no forewarning. No last meal. No plea for mercy allowed.

I'm moving to Waynesboro, Pa., into a house my mother bought. It's a slightly used three-bedroom Cape Cod with an open and light kitchen and dining area, laundry room, living room and den, and three bedrooms up. It has two baths. It has skylights and a large front yard.

I like the house, but the moving part stinks. It's dirty, time-consuming, overwhelming and tedi-ous. It makes you crazy. It's more stressful than divorce.

If I survive the move itself, I feel I will be incredibly happy. For example, I will be able to plant green things to my heart's content.

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You see, Mom made the mistake of telling me I could do the landscaping. Little Eden III, which I may have to rename Big Eden, will look a lot like the two gardens I created at my Hagerstown apartment.

Those gardens are lush and colorful.

Mom says they are lush and crowded.

So, we don't always agree.

I'm very glad the new house has an open floor plan downstairs. That means that if we're getting on each other's nerves, Mom and I can pass each other at a distance without looking at each other.

It also means that our collective cats - count 'em, four felines - will be able to pass without making physical contact.

I was telling a friend at work about the trauma I feared this move will cause my cats, Scooter and Cassie.

"Oh, they'll be fine," she said. "They'll adjust. Just think how much fun they'll have with all that room. They'll have a whole house to investigate."

"Well, my mom's bringing her two cats, Katy and Smokey," I said.

My friend, who has had some unique experiences with cats, furrowed her brow.

"Oh ... You will be living in cat hell," she said slowly with great solemnness and deliberation.

"That really makes me feel better," I said.

I didn't talk to her anymore about the move.

I called another friend. "Well, it's finally happening," I said, full of excitement at the prospect of living in a real house for the first time since childhood.

"We're moving in and then I'm taking two weeks' vacation."

"I hope it works out," she said solemnly. "Remember, you're always going to be your mother's daughter. And you're used to your independence. You're never home. You're always running around. Now you're going to have someone to answer to."

I didn't talk to her anymore about it, either.

I called a third friend.

"Are you sure that house is going to be big enough?" she said. "You know how you like your alone time. You're going to need your own space."

I called a fourth friend.

"Who's going to do the cooking?" she asked.

"What cooking?" I asked back.

"You know your mother is going to make sure you eat right. Remember those green things in the grocery store? The green things you never eat. You'll be eating them now. Your mother is going to cook for you. But she won't want to cook all the time."

The fifth friend seemed to be in a good mood. I was hopeful.

"You say your mom's there now helping you pack?" she asked. "I bet she tosses some of the junk you've got around there. I bet she chucks the tree fungus you s-o-o-o love."

"I WANT POSITIVE, UPBEAT FEEDBACK!!!" I said.

"Well ... give me a minute," she said.

Then she changed the subject. "Who's moving your mom in from Ohio?" she asked.

"My brother Ralph," I said. "And my nephew Michael and sister-in-law Gail and her parents. You know, her mom Shirley is the one with the dead board, and her dad's the one with the titanium knees.

"Ahhh, quite a crew," she said. "Quite a crew."

Then, as though it had just struck her, she said, "Ralph? Is that what you said. Ralph's moving your mom? He's going to be there? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA."

I hung up on her. She sounded way too much like my brother.

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