Too Much, Part II: Moving


Everyone says that moving to a new place is one of the most stressful things you can undertake.  Up until the most recent move Dani and I made (which was a year and a half ago as of this writing), I don't recall that ever being the case for me.

After years of moving in and out of dorms in college, I had this down to an art.  You bring the essentials up the first weekend (i.e., your computer, guitar, and stereo), and the rest follows over the next few weeks as you have the time on your trips home to do laundry.  The whole moving process can be broken apart and scattered it across several weeks or even months.  This is how reasonable people do it.  You don't try to get everything accomplished in a weekend.  This is how people end up in the ER with chest pains.

When I moved from my apartment to a house while I was in grad school, I just loaded up the car with as many boxes as I felt like each night.  The next day on my way either to or from school (i.e., whatever I had the time or energy for), I swung by the house and dropped off some boxes.  After all, it was on my way anyway.  If I felt like it, I would actually put them in the appropriate rooms.  If I was too tired, screw it; I'd get to it later.  My lease overlapped by a month so I could do it at my own pace.

I followed this now-perfected pattern right on through when I moved in with Dani.  I used to see her on the weekends pretty much without exception.  Sometime on Friday, I would load up the car before I went down to see her, and I unloaded the boxes when I got there.  With only a car-full of belongings to deal with at a time, it really wasn't that big a deal to find somewhere to store them.  It was certainly a lot easier than bringing a moving van and trying to get everything accomplished in an afternoon.

My plan when we bought our (first?) house together about a year and a half later was to go through the same gradual, low-stress process that I had practiced to perfection over the years.  After all, we had lots of other things to do in addition to simply moving in.  We had plans to repaint almost the entire inside of the house.  Why move things in that we were just going to have move out of the way or cover with a drop-cloth?  It seemed to me that the reasonable thing was to bring a carload of things over with every new can of paint we were going to put on the walls.  Sounds sensible, right?  Dani didn't think so.

She was anxious to get in the house, even if it meant living in chaos for a time.  That was kind of her natural state anyway, so it wasn't like this would be much of a change.  By contrast, as far as I was concerned, the move was the long-awaited opportunity to get all our crap organized and put away.  Given the space constraints of our old place, I never fully unpacked, and she had never taken the time to straighten up her belongings the last time we moved.  All I could think was: No more cardboard boxes!  Unfortunately, that never happened.

Since we closed the sale only a couple weeks before xmas, Dani wanted to do the move while we were on vacation over the holiday.  That didn't give us much time to pack intelligently, let alone to get started bringing things over, painting, or any of the other projects I wanted to get accomplished in the space we didn't actually have to sleep in (or breathe fumes in).  We went ahead and moved in anyway.

That was a nightmare of disorganization since it was just the two of us moving everything by ourselves.  Sure, Dani's brother was in town and could have helped, but since he characteristically never bothered to ask, we did it on our own including all the heavy lifting.  Why is the cliché of the oblivious brother-in-law such a truism?  Why is it magnified to such giant proportions in this case?  I get stressed out enough thinking about moving without bringing him up, so I'm going to move on.

Once we were in the new place, it was like a series of successive approximations toward the final goal.  The only other medium that so closely parallels the art of moving is sculpting.  You start off with a block of granite or wood or any other material you plan to carve.  You take away big chunks, then smaller ones, then you're down to just removing the bits that obscure the tiniest details on the piece you want to create.  So it was with our junk, only we were putting things where they belonged, not just taking them away from one place.

The first (and completely) ridiculous pass was the aforementioned deposition of pretty much everything we owned in the living room and front room all at once.  These were the two rooms that didn't have any furniture as yet.  The rest of the furniture was scattered throughout the rest house in or very near the places where it was intended.  We tried to at least get things into the correct room even if we had no idea how it was going to be arranged.  Yes, those questions should have been addressed before the heavy lifting, but we skipped over the steps where we actually thought things through.

Even once we were in the place, the boxes remained in the otherwise empty rooms literally for months.  Gradually we moved boxes into the appropriate rooms, then things would get unpacked and put in the general proximity of where they were going to ultimately end up.  Weeks or even more months later they would finally find their intended place.  During this time we painted only one wall of one bedroom and only got two coats of the required three into the job before giving up to instead focus on unpacking so we could, say, brush our teeth or find a bowl for cereal.

It look several more months before we took the time to actually paint the inside of the house.  That was an ordeal unto itself, one I'll share with photos some other time.  Coordinating the paint with furniture we didn't even own yet was something of a puzzle though.  We had nothing but a pair of rocking chairs in the living room for a while there.  That was what we watched tv on since we had gotten rid of the sectional from the old place when we moved.  I'll admit now that it was a crappy piece of furniture, but ah, the memories.  It made a convenient display shelf for the garage sale when we moved though.  I don't know how long we were in the new house before we finally found a couch we agreed on.  It was almost a year and a half into our residence in the new place before we found a chair, ottoman, and love seat that worked for the front room though, but it took nearly that entire time for that room not to be overrun with some phase in an ecology of boxes.  After the boxes of belongings were emptied, there were boxes of garage sale things, then there were boxes of things for eBay, then more garage sale things, then a different round of things for eBay, then work stuff when Dani switched jobs, and so on.

That's probably too much story for this episode, but the moral of it is: I love this house and I think I want to live here forever, and at least a huge chunk of that is because I don't want to go through another move with Dani.


Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
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