Back in late September, my friends asked me if I was worried about the upcoming move to New Mexico. I replied, no, it would be a piece of cake compared to my earlier cross country move from Boston to California. After all, in 1993, I said goodbye to our babysitter of nine years and packed up three kids, a dog and a cat to move to a city where I did not know a single soul. I will never forget walking into the principal’s office at our new elementary school, filling out the registration forms, and realizing that for the first time ever in my life, I had not a single name to fill in the blank space which said “Who to contact in case of an emergency.” I was starting from scratch.
As it happens, I had seriously underestimated the effort required to detach from a home I lived in for seventeen years, from my accumulated belongings and from my youngest son and my elderly father, neither of whom desired to join me on my journey. As sentimental as I am, it was impossible to merely throw things away—old photographs had to be examined and scanned, stuffed animals and dolls needed to be hugged one last time, old movie ticket stubs and playbills needed to reawaken memories before being tossed. Each time I carried a large green trash bag out of the house, the closets, nooks and crannies seemed to refill themselves. In the end, I ran out of time, and the movers packed what was left, which amounted to an entire moving van filled with our furniture, and over 300 boxes. My culling was not very successful.
My biggest concern about the move itself was how my four dogs, especially elderly Magic in congestive heart failure, would handle the displacement, the two day 1,000 mile road trip and climb to 7000 feet in altitude, and the uncertainties of new territory. As it turned out, the one that I worried about most surprised me with what appeared to be a new lease on life—clearly the cooler crisper mountain air seemed to rejuvenate him. It was the little guy, Yoda, my tiny rescued Chihuahua-terrier mix that had some unexpected issues.
Yoda was picked up as a stray in Oakland, CA two years ago at Christmas time. Starving and loaded with tapeworm, he jumped into the arms of a good Samaritan who stopped traffic on Fremont Avenue to pick him up. My veterinarian friend there made a search for an owner, but when none came forth she neutered him, wormed him and sent him down to me. He quickly adjusted to life with the three jolly grey giants. Playful and loving, he never met a soul he didn’t like and never caused us a moment of trouble–until the move.
For the first time ever, on arriving in New Mexico, Yoda suffered from severe separation anxiety. When either my husband or I would leave the house, he would cry piteously and endlessly, despite the fact that the other of us was still there, along with his Scottish deerhound buddies. He was inconsolable. Amidst the doggy distress, fear and consternation, one thing became clear to me—at some point in his short life, he had been left behind. And he did not want it to happen again.
Yoda has settled down now and he knows that if we leave the house we are coming back. But his little trauma has left me with a New Year’s wish for us all: Be brave! Make a change. Take a short trip, or a long journey, with your best friends and your family. Yoda wants what we all want in our own way–to live, love and laugh—and never, ever to be left behind. Happy New Year everyone!