I had a conversation with a person a few months ago that came back to me today as I was cleaning my kitchen.

The conversation started as a question to me asking why I did such an intensive clean every time I cleaned my place. I wasn’t sure what she meant. I just clean. Not intensive, just cleaning. Normal weekly cleaning. She pointed out that not everyone cleans to the depth that I do on a regular basis. I stopped and pondered that remark. I stopped and thought about my cleaning patterns. Patterns and routines that I have always done for as long as I can remember.

My routine is simple – a full deep clean every time that I clean. By deep clean, I mean DEEP clean. Baseboards scrubbed, corners and nooks and crannies delved into until they sparkled. 

The type of cleaning that sees me removing the knobs off the stovetop to get underneath them, burners removed, inside of oven cleaned, tops of door frames, fridge (inside and out), kitchen cupboard faces and walls….everything. Doesn’t seem unusual to me, I replied to her. It makes the move out clean easier when it comes time to leave.

That remark made me stop. Full stop. It makes the move out clean easier. 

I realized in that moment, with that sentence, that I always live with one foot out the door. I live with the assumption and belief that where I am is not home; it is temporary. A place that, no matter how much I may like it, will come to an end. So why allow myself to become comfortable or feel grounded? Why put down roots when I’ll just be moving on soon anyways? Sure, I’ll make it feel cozy and comfy in many ways and settle in, but settling in to the degree that I don’t see a move on the horizon…nope. That isn’t going to happen.

I could blame my perspective on many things. My upbringing which saw me moving, almost without exception, every summer. Always a new place, new school, familiar places and faces left behind on a yearly basis. So why get attached? It was many years before I learned the word ‘Nomadic’ and understood what it meant. That word fits me well. My adult years were filled with much of the same. My first marriage…oh, how I look back and wonder how my spouse didn’t lose their mind in the first three years of our marriage. They had grown up in the same home for 20 years, then one move before marriage. In our first three years of marriage, we moved three times. I was unfazed but I am still amazed they didn’t melt down. 

A social media memory today reminded me that it was two years ago today since I moved into a place. I saw it and realized that in those two years since that move, I’ve moved twice more. That’s three moves in the last 18 months. I don’t think I can be faulted for feeling like permanence is not in the cards.

Years ago, I started a spreadsheet (those who know me know that this is not unusual – I track everything, thank you OCD) of all the places that I have lived since 1990. It averages out to just over 18 months in each place. Some were much longer, some much less, but that’s the average. 19 locations overall. 

Years ago, I went over my sense of living like I was ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ with a therapist and, after reviewing life issues including relationships and moves, he expressed that I would, in fact, be out of touch with reality if I wasn’t living like that in some way because the reality is that, in my life, the other shoe is always teetering on the edge and always does, in fact, drop. I’m not a pessimist, I remind people, I’m a realist. 

It’s not that I don’t want permanence, it’s just that experience has proved to me that it doesn’t exist. It’s not that I don’t have hope every time that something new starts in my life. I do – against all reason to – I still do. A new job, a relationship, a new place to live. I think to myself…what if this is the one that doesn’t end? What if this is the happily ever after that I deeply want? What’s worse than being hopeless? Remaining hopeful and having it dashed repeatedly. Yet, still I hope.

For now though, I’ll clean under the burners so the move out clean that’s probably coming is easier when it happens. Hopeful, but realistic, to the bitter end.

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