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  • Ben Stower

Moving is Scary

Moving is scary. That may come across as a wee bit negative or downtrodden, but we all know about the excitement and joy that comes from moving house or city or country. But I'm not generally here to write about the things I know and more often than not I'm interested in the things I don't know. And I didn't know, until very recently, that moving was scary.

I guess any big change—small changes for some—can be scary. But there is something more disconcerting about the absence of fear during these moments, as if all care and self-preservation has been totalled in a midnight head-on. Argh, that turned morbid quickly. How can such dark and morose thoughts accost a man sitting with wine in a park under a blue-sky sun in Paris?

Let's get back to fear, and that all-too familiar fear of change. But I'm thinking now that's the wrong word for it. Change. I think it's more a fear of the unknown. Hell, you change your underpants every day (well you should you fucking animal) without a second thought. But if you buy new underpants you've never worn before, the doubts and questions begin surfacing like Jason's hockey-masked face from that placid lake every damn time those useless, albeit sexy, camp counsellors think they've finally got one over the psychopath.

Will they fit? I know I'm a large in knock-off Calvin Kleins, but does that sizing carry over to legit Bonds? Will my arse and junk look weird with horizontal stripes and are those purple seahorses really the best pattern for a girl to see when she's only just decided I'll do for one night?

And will they fucking fit?

Seriously, I don't condone the trying on of underpants before purchasing, but goddamn can I emphasise with the sons of bitches who do.

Where were we? Right, comparing moving from Australia to Paris with buying new underpants. Looks like Hemingway's ghost hasn't possessed me yet. But you must admit the guts of both are pretty similar.

Will it fit? Will I find a home in this city? Will I stay an outsider? Will I ever learn the difference between to kiss and to fuck in French? Guess what? They're both "baiser". That's a sure-fire way to find out French people don't just kiss on the cheek; they also use their palms.

It's not a fear of change dear handful of readers, it's a fear of the unknown. But you know what? That's a fear that quickly dissipates with familiarity from the moment of arrival.

Moving is also sad.

Now please don't think I'm just taking a moment to whinge about having the opportunity and fortune to live in Paris. I feel those joyous and grateful emotions of living in this incredible city every day. But give me the depth to feel some conflicting emotions too and not just be a fucking Ken doll with a painted smile. We are human after all.

At 28 years old an extended departure from my home country, my family and friends has come with a far more confronting emotion of sadness. Not melancholy. Just sadness.

It comes from the knowledge that I may not see some of them alive again and that I will miss significant life moments—the births of children, the milestone of making it to 30 without feeling like a statistic. These moments happen all around us when we are, pardon, around. But when they are no longer accessible, it can be a confronting realisation of exactly what I'm sacrificing.

To choose to live a life down one branch, I've had to atone with turning my back on moments down another. But this is true for every big decision we make in life (probably not purchasing new underwear). Buying that house or moving cities or marrying that guy or gal. That's why it's so important that the decisions are ours. That we can own them and fall asleep with them. Because of what we sacrifice.

Or we can just say fuck it and buy some wine and drink ourselves to merriment. C'est la vie.

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