Moving While Autistic

Moving is hell for everybody.

How can it not be? You have to transport everything that comprises your life from one location to another in a short amount of time with no margin of error. You have an intense amount of physical labor combined with a violent amount of money being spent. Moving exhausts you in every way. And when it’s done you have to reestablish your life.

However, I think moving might be a special brand of hell for the autistic community. Moving is an experience that gets at everything that we hate in a condensed form. Over the last week, I’ve moved from one house to another and it’s gutted me physically and emotionally. So I have more than a few thoughts on the topic.

Between 2013 and 2018, I’ve moved four separate times. That is, as you might notice, not a small volume of moves. The first time was to move in with Amanda. The second time was because our neighbors were horrid. The third time was because our house was overpriced. Now, on our fourth move, we moved because we added a third person and there was a hole in our floor. It had to happen.

The last 30 days have ranked among the longest in my life. Amanda and I have slammed our way through the experience of finding a house, cleaning it out, and getting over to a new house. All while maintaining my normal routine of work, therapy, and the most strenuous of all: being daddy.

The physical act of moving is the part most people hate but honestly while I hate it, I probably prefer it to the other parts. Physical labor is hard yet not all that mentally taxing. It simply must be done. Get from one place to another. That’s pure and I don’t feel stress over it. I should note however that I did very little of the heavy lifting. Not my skill set.

No, what I find stressful is the cleaning and not just because I struggle with the fine motor tasks of cleaning. Moving inevitably means turning up strata of your past. This was especially clear on Friday when I produced a mountain of trash from the shed. As I did so I took out pieces from my past. Unfortunately, many of my old comics were water damaged. It hurt to trash them. But even if I hadn’t had to let go of those, I’d still find memories over and over. We always do. There’s lots hidden that we dig up just by going through the move. It’s impossible not to be slammed with nostalgia when we do.

Nostalgia is hard for us to deal with. We mourn for what was and can never be again no matter how hard we try. I know this for a fact as I moved into my freshman dorm room during my senior year and couldn’t hit the flint again. Moving reminds us that time passes and things change. The memories hurt.

But what really hurts is the upheaval. Moving your things isn’t as simple as transporting rooms in their exact forms. Everything you have is boxed up and hidden. Already I’ve had several panic episodes just trying to find things. I will continue to panic in this manner for at least a month. This is disastrous for all but I really think we get it the hardest. 

It’s not just your things either. I moved a minimal 10 minutes away but my routine has been violently disrupted. I don’t have my convenience stores. I’m figuring out how long it takes to go to work. I’m figuring out the closest stores. Everything I know and count on to the minute? Gone.

You might be thinking that it’s silly to whine about that when I’m so close to everything I knew but in a weird way that’s harder. It’s frustrating that I can’t just snap back. It’s all visible to me. 

But ultimately none of this matters. Moving is part of life. Do we hate it? Yes. But it can’t be avoided. 

What matters is what we come home to. My wife is at this house as is my daughter. I can build a new routine. But I can’t replace them. They are my home. 

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