Will Kenneth illustration by Jay Insult

Moving: The Review by Will Kenneth

Feb 08, 2022

A few times now our new New York City neighbors were surprised to learn we uprooted our entire lives to be here. They ask me, “How did you manage to move across the country?”

How was never a question that crossed our minds. The issue was always about why.

“Florida is run by a bug-chasing, COVID death cult, and we were desperate to get the fuck out,” is what I want to tell them, but often kids are around, so my go-to answer is, “People are vaccinated here, and we wanted to feel safe,” which gets you to the same place.

They nod in understanding and shared disbelief. Being part of a community that shares your same values is validating as hell, and I couldn’t be happier to have made the decision to put our family through months of stress to get the move done.

Moving sucks and I would absolutely wish moving across states on my worst enemy.

(I don’t know who that would be, but the only real enemy I ever made was my rival wolfman, Steve, aka Wolfman from Ocala, Fla. He moved into my Wolfman Will territory of Gainesville, Fla., acted like Gainesville and Ocala are the same community—THEY’RE NOT, STEVE—and then he started a shitty, cable access metal show, which confused and frustrated everyone who didn’t know we were two different people.

I had to tell too many locals, “No, I don’t know why Steve won’t let you on his show, and yes, I would definitely let you on my cable access show if I had one.”)

We were privileged enough to get a mostly free ride out of Florida. My wife Rachel got a new job doing what she loved somewhere else, and they covered the bulk of the move, which included hiring a personal chauffeur to drive our two terrified cats up the coast to NYC.

Rachel pointed out we share some survivors’ guilt from leaving behind friends and family (not our five-year-old. Don’t worry, she came with us). They still have to stay and continue to organize against GOP majority rule.

It seemed like every time I looked up from burying my head in a feverish packing frenzy, Florida was one step closer spiraling into madness, staring into the gaping maw of the death, and screaming, “Come at me, bro!”

Wearing masks in public would get you dirty looks. I refused to be intimidated so I would glare back.

I didn’t want to believe Florida was as wild as the media made it seem, but the same neighbors we’d be hanging out with just before the pandemic were still gathering in large groups and not wearing masks. Were we surrounded by Florida men? I didn’t get it.

But I had to keep moving.

I didn’t leave myself enough time to pack up all my crap. So instead of making plans with friends, I spent my remaining weeks pulling endless junk from the infinite void dwelling deep inside our closets.

You don’t realize how much worthless garbage is taking up space in your life until you are faced with having to shove it into a moving box.

You don’t realize how much worthless garbage is taking up space in your life until you are faced with having to shove it into a moving box.

People kept telling us to get a storage unit for when we get to the city, but I’d rather shovel cash into a bonfire than pay rent on something I may never use again.

I threw out and gave away so much—and as much as doing that was painful (I miss our IKEA reading chair)—I’d rather not have that stuff than live in Florida for another day.

Last year I thought I was so smart to practice the Marie Kondo method. I carefully pruned my belongings, but then I still had to move what was left into a space half the size I had before.

I spent weeks carefully bubble wrapping my collectibles, which I was worried would get destroyed by movers dropkicking them into an overstuffed truck.

After spending days double and triple wrapping everything in green, environmentally friendly bubble wrap, I started to resent every second younger me spent digging through bargain bins, collecting stuff for future me to stress about.

But especially fuck moving records. I don’t have a big collection of LPs, but nothing makes me want to abandon my family, claim a new identity, and move to the middle of nowhere like trying to lift a small box of LPs. My scrawny limbs weren’t made for that.

I would have been better off instead spending all of my money on drugs. At least when I’m done with drugs, I don’t have to move them across the country.

I would have been better off instead spending all of my money on drugs. At least when I’m done with drugs, I don’t have to move them across the country.

(I don’t know what drugs that would be. My only experience with weed was when a high school friend offered me special brownies when I was heading home. She didn’t tell me what was in them, and after eating one, I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin for the entire bus ride.)

I was grateful to have movers pack LPs for me this time. I’d rather let someone else do a shitty job and smash them to bits so I don’t have to think about how heavy those boxes must be.

(I haven’t set up my turntable yet, so for all I know my entire record collection is a pile of dust sitting in crumbled sleeves, which I can live with. After all, they average about three dollars on Discogs so replacing them wouldn’t be that hard. Though if I’m being honest, I probably wouldn’t bother, and I especially don’t need to replace 7” EPs I bought from touring bands because I felt bad for them.)

But I had to keep moving.

Moving during COVID added extra layers of stress, especially when living in a community that didn’t give a shit about masks.

I lost my cool with our carpet repair guy when he argued with me about putting his mask back on inside my home.

I was prepared to tell people to pull up their masks, but I wasn’t prepared to face someone who was willing to argue with me.

I hate conflict, and I will go out of my way to avoid a fight (thanks trauma), but I unloaded an entire pandemic’s worth of stress on him.

I’ve never yelled in a stranger’s face before this. No one deserves to be yelled at, but fuck this guy in particular.

Before he came into my home, I asked him to wear his mask at all times or I would ask him to leave, which I thought was an empty threat. He consented and came inside, but he didn’t agree in a way that told me he agreed. He put on the mask I handed him and brushed past me to start working.

When our carpet guy passed by me later with his mask pulled below his mouth, I said, “Please pull up your mask.”

I was direct and polite, but he became visibly frustrated, and started ranting at me. “It’s too hard to wear a mask while I work…”

“Listen,” I said, stopping him short and then pivoting to face him. “I have people in my family with auto-immune disorders…”

I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t trying to be unreasonable about masking. People I cared about had comorbidities with COVID, and I wanted to keep them and the rest of my family safe. Also, I’m pretty sure I got COVID the first week of February 2020, and that sucked.

He interrupted me back. “It gets too hot to wear a mask while I work,” he said. “I can’t breathe…”

That’s when my brain short circuited.

“I don’t give a shit,” I said. This was true. I didn’t care about any reasons he had for taking off his mask, even if they were true, though I strongly suspected they weren’t.

To take the dying words of Eric Garner and countless others murdered by police, and then to recontextualize them to be about wearing a piece of fabric on your face meant to protect others, is bullshit.

“Get the fuck out of my house,” I said while pointing to the front door, dismissing whatever else he had to say. I realized talking to this guy any further would get me nowhere, and I just wanted him gone.

I startled him, and he reacted by pulling up his mask, but he kept arguing with me. I didn’t listen to a word he said.

“Get the fuck out of my house,” I said, starting to raise my voice. He wouldn’t leave, so I kept raising my voice while repeating, “Get the fuck out of my house!”

Then the door to the back patio swung open. Framed by the sunlight now pouring in, Rachel stepped into the house, taking cautious steps toward us.

“Hey guys, what’s going on?” she asked.

Rachel had been eating breakfast outside on our neglected patio, which overlooked weeds, dead grass, and a playhouse my daughter rarely used.

At first she thought the neighbors behind us were arguing again, but she soon realized the yelling was coming from me.

Having Rachel enter the room helped me recalibrate. I realized that even if this guy did risk exposing us to COVID and then start arguing with me about it, I still fucked up.

“If you want to smooth this over, be my guest,” I said turning to Rachel, too ashamed to make eye contact, and started walking outside.

“You’re an asshole,” the carpet guy said to me as I was walking away.

I turned to face him, and I could see that he was seething with anger. I thought to myself, “What a hypocrite.” Nothing he said mattered, and nothing I could have said would have helped Rachel, so I kept walking outside.

I didn’t care if the job was complete or not. I didn’t care if we were flying out to NYC in days and wouldn’t be able to find someone else to do the job. I can live with those consequences later, but Rachel did care, and I owed her better.

I stepped outside on our sad patio, sat down in a recently pressure-washed chair, and started taking deep breaths to refocus my mind and collect myself. This was a technique I learned in counseling. I had gotten pretty good at it, but I should have been taking deep breaths earlier when I got frustrated.

After taking a few minutes to wrap up with the carpet guy, Rachel joined me on the patio. I could see she was shaken up. My yelling startled her, and I felt terrible I was responsible for that.

I apologized without reservation. She said I was acting like an asshole, but he was the bigger asshole for taking off his mask and arguing with me about it. I agreed with everything she said.

Rachel also said she was so startled that she forgot to put her mask on when she went back inside. If I hadn’t lost my cool, I wouldn’t have caused Rachel to potentially expose herself to COVID and share raw air with this clown.

Having the tools to better handle my emotions doesn’t mean I’m always going to get expressing them right.

Fortunately, we were fine, but I was pretty embarrassed. I still have work to do to keep my cool and composure. Having the tools to better handle my emotions doesn’t mean I’m always going to get expressing them right.

I’m still learning, and I have to keep practicing my conflict resolution skills even when the stakes are lower, so when the time comes for another serious argument, I’ll be better prepared to manage how I react when the conversation goes poorly.

As a final parting gift, our carpet guy discarded his mask in our potted plant outside. He was still an asshole, right to the end.

But I had to keep moving.

Eventually we did make it to New York. We survived a Jacksonville hotel room with a broken fridge that spoiled our food, and a NYC Airbnb bachelor pad that had never been cleaned, had paint peeling off the walls, and had a melted light fixture over the kitchen stove that could easily have been some kind of Salvador Dali art instillation no one told us about.

We had to advocate for ourselves the day of the move when the moving company left Rachel’s childhood dollhouse off the shipping manifest and nearly left it behind, and again when the crew who were scheduled to uncrate the dollhouse were scheduled for the wrong day.

We survived not blowing up our apartment while using a gas range, despite using electric ranges exclusively in Florida. We were so busy we neglected to get our five year old into a summer camp, which were all filled up by the time we arrived. For weeks leading up to school starting, we had to balance entertaining her and doing our full-time jobs remotely.

Now that we’re unpacked, I hope I never have to move to a new city again. Moving was rough, but I would do it again to escape Florida.

Will Kenneth lives in New York City. ALL > Descendents. (Facebook | Instagram | w o l f m a n w i l l [@] g m a i l)

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