All I want is my coffee mug


I’m not a good mover. I hate it. From the start, the idea of packing everything you own into scavenged boxes and bags to stuffing those boxes and bags — along with your furniture, which you had just managed to get arranged how you like it — into the back of a truck to cart it off to some new place where you may or may not know anyone, it all adds up to one the most stressful endeavors I’ve come across.
I’ve had many homes in the past 50 years, from the trailer my parents and I lived in when I was a baby and the house where I grew up with my mother and grandparents to a veritable parade of apartments and rental houses.
From the time I left home to go to college in the fall of 1990, I’ve moved 17 times. That’s an average of once every 1.88 years. Some of those moves were just from one house or apartment to another, but it’s easy to see why I hate moving.
It also explains why it takes me forever to fully unpack.
There are certainly more experienced, more organized movers than me — military families come to mind — but even they don’t like it. Something gets broken, something gets lost, things get left behind, and once you arrive at your destination, you must perform the whole process in reverse.
Except this time, you’re ripping open boxes clearly marked as “Kitchen,” only to find every toothbrush you’ve ever owned, a can of glass cleaner, an assortment of outdated magazines you always intended to read and what appears to be one of your kid’s third-grade art projects when all you wanted was a coffee cup — assuming you can find the coffee maker.
At this point, the great purge begins as you attempt to sort through the mounds of stuff you’ve collected over the years, keeping some things, and discarding others. Some might argue that the best time for this phase is on the front end, so you don’t have to move things you don’t want to keep, but you don’t always have time to sort through everything as you’re packing, especially if you only have a limited window to move and limited help.
That’s probably the biggest downside for me. I don’t like change to begin with. No matter the situation, if I’ve grown accustomed to it, I tend to prefer sticking with it. Left to my own devices, the only things that get fully unpacked are the bare essentials, the things I need to make it through another day.
In the past, I had my wife to stay on me and keep me motivated. Both before and after her passing, my mother, saint of organization that she was, filled that role. With them gone, I’m on my own again. Once my bed is assembled and made, my bathroom is set up, my linens and clothes are all neatly organized in their respective closets, my electronics are all set up, and my cat is fully settled in, there will still be a mountain of boxes.
I’ll get to it. Eventually. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Some of those boxes haven’t been opened in at least five years, since I moved from Jacksonville to Perryville, Mo., to take a job as managing editor of the Perry County Republic-Monitor, then headed south to northwest Arkansas and then once again back home to Perryville. Whatever’s in them I haven’t needed, but I can’t throw them out unopened. There’s no telling what precious memories I might lose.
Then again, it could just be old newspapers, outdated cellphones, and dust.
As always, I’ll start with my books. I have hundreds, and I know exactly which boxes they’re in. As a collector and avid reader, I’m always careful with them. Unfortunately, I’m also always short of bookshelves, so the process includes determining which ones to shelve and which ones to keep boxed until space can be found. This is the dangerous phase because I will inevitably be distracted into sorting instead of shelving.
I think I must have been a librarian in a former life because heaven forbid one volume is out of place.
Then there are the other collectibles. You know — comics, action figures, vehicles, assorted fandom tie-in merchandise — the usual stuff. Again, care must be taken with the “nerd stuff.” Some of it is valuable, after all, at least to other nerds.
During this phase, the space around my chair starts to look like a comic book shop exploded, with capes and bright colors everywhere.
Once all that is accomplished, it’s time to start in on the real work — the boxes that I’m not sure about. They could be full of trash, assorted knickknacks, or some of those valuable memories I was talking about.
Or it could be my favorite coffee mug. Finally.
Robert Cox is publisher of the Perry County Republic-Monitor. His email is


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