It’s simple, really:

  • Decide to move house four months in advance; ask honey to begin packing that day. Draw up a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, and review list with sweetie so you can each pick key tasks and assign due dates.  Smile with self-satisfaction when the list is done.
  • Ask honey to begin packing three months in advance. Remind honey that wooden moldings need to be repaired, 60-plus boxes in basement need to be reviewed and re-sealed (since last move, 6 years ago), garage needs to be emptied and cleaned, yard needs to be tidied up and mowed, and personal items all still need to be packed.
  • Ask honey to begin packing two months in advance. Stress the importance of sticking to our list, packing our least-needed items, doing the minor repairs to the house.
  • Ask honey to begin packing one month in advance. Tersely comment that the list seems to have been ignored, none of the growing pile of packing has been accomplished by him, moving day looms, new packing boxes are required, and all of the repairs to the house still need to be undertaken. 
  • Two weeks in advance, frantically implore honey to begin packing.  Anxiously remind him that the movers are coming in fourteen days, the kitchen and bedroom and TV room and most of the office have not been packed, and the minor repairs to the house still need to be completed.
  • Three days in advance, scream like a deranged harpy at honey that we need to begin packing NOW. Run like a maniac from room to room, haphazardly tossing miscellaneous and sundry items into packing boxes, dash around the house stuffing everything and anything into boxes, bags, cartons, plastic bins, etc.  Lift and push aside and disassemble and wrap and fold and untie and unhook and unscrew and unplug and layer and tape and cram and stack more items and boxes and bins than you ever thought possible in 72 hours. 
  • Two days in advance, glance about you and realize that you are never going to finish it all before the movers arrive.  Redouble your efforts to lift and push aside and disassemble. . . . after midnight, fall into bed exhausted.
  • One day in advance, expend most of your energy shrieking at honey that this is all his fault, if only he’d listened to you and been organized and followed the list, you’d be ready to move now, instead of throwing things with abandon into bags, stuffing things with neither rhyme nor reasons into boxes,  blindly shoving items into bins and  cartons, while he works frantically on the minor repairs to the house.
  • Moving day, spend the wee hours still futilely attempting to pack items while waiting for the movers to arrive.  Continue as they undertake the monumental task of displacing and replacing your entire life’s meaning as it’s packed into various containers, ignoring the few directives written on the cardboard with black magic marker.  Watch, helplessly, as they stack all of the 60-plus boxes that used to contain untouched books, kitchen gadgets, grandmother’s possessions and other unwanted items in the same haphazard pile (four deep and five high) of boxes that contain all of your current, essential, just-packed possessions.
  • On moving day, run back and forth between old and new residences, attempting to direct the movers so they don’t wreck your beloved antique sewing machine, lifting and moving boxes they’ve already stacked because you notice they belong upstairs in the office instead of way down in the basement, carrying oddly shaped and as-yet unpacked items (such as your honey’s grandfather’s massive umbrella, your mother’s silver 3-tier cake serving platter, your dogs’ four pillows [pre-LL Bean], your barber’s mirror for the wall in the bathroom, your sneakers, your jar of sauerkraut and other fridge-related items, and more) into the house as you vainly attempt to find a place for them that won’t have to be changed within the next few hours.
  • On moving day, help the movers with the heavier and more awkward items, such as the treadmill, the plants, the box of spices, the lawn chairs, the chest freezer, the pail of agave nectar, the box of shoe boxes, or the brooms and mops. Almost drop several boxes, trip several times, bang into walls and bookcases and stair bannisters over and over, so that eventually (and by the time you notice, three days later), your arms and legs are awash in bruises, vaguely resembling a Jackson Pollock painting.
  • At 10:15 on moving day, begin to search desperately for at least one of the boxes you’d marked “Open First.”  When this appears futile, use your last few ounces of energy to begin slitting open sealed boxes, searching desperately for anything you could use at this late date to cover your bed so you can fall into it in a crumpled heap.
  • At 10:30 PM, unable to find anything to put on your bed, drive in a catatonic state to the local Wal-Mart, arriving just as they’re about to close,  to purchase new sheets.  Pick any old thing just to get something. Arrive home and somehow manage to place your new, shades-of-vomited-salmon sheets on the bed.
  • Brush your teeth with your index finger in the only bathroom with no windows (since there are no blinds or curtains in any of the rooms), then feel your way in the dark (since you’re naked–you couldn’t find any boxes of clothes, either) to the bed and sleep like a dead person for 6 hours until your excited dogs poke their wet, cold noses into your cheek to wake you.
  • Spend every waking moment since then unpacking, replacing, stocking, shelving, unwrapping, folding, cleaning, organizing, assembling, purchasing, setting up, refilling, and howling like a banshee at your honey that if only you had listened to me and gotten started early and been organized and done what I said we would not be in this horrible mess now and I could find my *&#@$!! underwear and we’d have our house set up and we’d be able to start our life instead of having to wade through a chaotic mass of cardboard and paper and plastic and twine and cloth and wool and dog hair and food and every other single thing we own in a jumbled mass that’s going to take weeks just to go through, let alone set up properly and you make me crazy and I want to break something and I am so stressed that I’m eating pounds of chocolate over the past few days and I have no idea how I’m going to get through this ordeal without cracking up.
  • A couple of days after moving, weigh yourself and nearly faint to see that you have not gained an ounce, not a gram, not a wee line on the scale, even though you’ve been gorging on chocolate at every possible opportunity (between unpacking, organizing, assembling, etc.).
  • Write about it all in your blog.  Heave a heavy sigh.  It’s gone.  It’s out. It’s over.
  • Get back to the task at hand:  462 boxes that need to be unpacked, methodically, one box at a time.

(“Mum?  Are you okay, Mum? . . . . . um. . . . will we still be able to go on our walk today?”)

Home At Last

November 14, 2007


[Elsie on the left, Chaser on the right.]

Well, we made it, sort of.  At least we’re in the house–along with an entirely chaotic, disorganized pile of boxes, bags, furniture and plastic bins.

I had no idea I could be this tired and still move.  I had no idea my muscles could hurt this much and still move.  I had no idea I could eat this much chocolate and still move. I had no idea it could be this difficult to–move!

Our possessions are strewn about the place in the most haphazard fashion imaginable.  The poor Poo Poo Girl keeps wandering aimlessly, seeking familiar landmarks like the triangular stair in the hallway, the sliding glass door to the back yard, the kitchen counter jutting out into the dining area (home to  bowls and treats).  Don’t get me wrong: all the familiar accoutrements are still here (Kong, Nylabone, pillow, etc.), but they’re in a new home, new rooms, new carpet–nothing feels the same.  Eventually she stationed herself wedged between the back of the sofa and my antique sewing machine, where she spent most of the afternoon. 

Chaser, on the other hand, continues to scamper ecstatically along the wide(r) hallway, bouncing from room to room and chewing pretty much anything that’s on the floor (including a fallen screw I found her chomping on, as well as an itty bitty piece of pink insulation).  The upheaval hasn’t bothered her a bit, it seems; but then again, “her entire life so far has been change,” as C. mused this morning.

The actual moving was, in itself, quite the story. It rained the entire day (of course, we woke up Tuesday to brilliant sunshine). So we, the movers, and all our possessions were drenched for a one-foot space of ramp between the truck and the house, the only part not covered by the awning. 

We were still frantically stuffing small and miscellaneous items into boxes when the movers arrived at 9:30 in the morning, with a 16 cubic foot truck.  They took one look around the place (the basement, in particular, where C. and I have housed our 50+ extra boxes of books, those we had no room to put on one of the many book cases around the house) and blanched visibly.  Edwin, the supervisor, suggested that it would take a minimum of four trips (four trips!!) in that truck, and that we’d be better off letting the company send another, larger (five-ton) truck with three guys.  The time spent sending the new guys would be more than compensated for by the time saved in loading four loads.  So we agreed.  Bad move.

Ah, yes, bad move, in more ways than one. The new guys didn’t arrive until 12:30, and then there were only two of them. They promised backup on the way in yet another 5-ton truck, while they began to load up our stuff into the first truck.  By 1:45 they’d completed most of the upstairs and the other two guys arrived. 

Hauling and heaving, lifting and carrying, climbing and loading–this went on the better part of the day before they’d even emptied our old house.  Dave, the supervisor, was a rather jovial Brit who was incredibly organized and commanded the move.  They quickly set up a kind of conveyor belt, wherein one guy took boxes from the basement up to the top of the stairs, another took them from the floor to the truck, while the other two guys loaded large pieces of furniture.

Even with all this, there were crises, the most prominent one being what to do with the treadmill (previously stored in the basement, hardly ever used).  It was a bitch to load into the truck, apparently several hundred pounds in weight (at least I haven’t gotten there yet), and then bringing it up the stairs at the new place required all four working in tandem, the coordination of a stealth attack, before they finally settled it gently in the TV room, where I am determined to use it as I watch my beloved soap every day. 

By 6:30 or so, the guys were looking wiped out and beginning to wobble a bit on their feet (they’d obviously got more than they’d bargained for).  I realized that no one had eaten since they’d arrived, so ordered a couple of pizzas and they took a short break before returning to the task at hand.  To make a long (and it really was  long–the rain never let up, they had to load a second  truck by the end of it all) story short, it took until 10:45 PM before the last of our items was unloaded in the pitch darkness –that’s over ten hours of heaving, lifting, pivoting, pushing, placing, turning, and stacking our stuff.

I was truly amazed at their stamina and the ability to forge ahead despite rain, sweat, sore backs, ridiculously cumbersome and incredibly heavy treadmills, no food or drink for extended periods, and two dogs, brought home when the doggie daycare closed for the day, curiously milling about their feet for much of the time.  (“Yes, it was rather curious, Mum!”)  And through it all, they managed to retain a sense of humor, and, more importantly (and unlike me), a sense of calm.

They got everything here, more or less in one piece and dry, before driving off into the night, most likely for a visit to the pub for some much-deserved dinner and a beer or two.  So, to Dave, Ewen, Marco, and Dilly, thanks again, guys.  We certainly appreciated it.

Now comes the enormous task of unpacking everything, finding a new place for things, and settling in.  Starting over has its own magical appeal, being able to see old objects in new settings, thereby conferring a certain sheen of novelty that had already worn off in the old house; and thinking about how to organize, what new accessories need to be purchased to help round out the new digs and supply the necessary atmosphere for a comfortable existence.

 In fact, the first delivery of new furniture arrived today: our dog beds from LL Bean.  There are The Girls in the photo, above, luxuriating on their soft new pillows. They seem to love them, and the beds look great overlooking the stairs.  It was our way of saying “welcome” to The Poo Poo and the Doodle Girl.  (“Mum, these are great!  I can stretch out or curl up and still be cushioned. . . we love our new home, Mum!”)