Seven Rules For Happy Moving

Picking up where we left off...

Just as we allowed ourselves to relax and enjoy a day off before the big move, the moving company called to see if they could load the truck on Saturday instead of Sunday. So... the Friday we'd planned (I'm beginning to just crack up every time I hear that word) to go out and enjoy our favorite Portland places one more time was jolted into high speed last minute moving prep. Fine! OK! We can play in Portland some other time!

This brings me to Rule Number 1 for Happy Moving - Make a Plan, and Plan to Change It
This rule pretty much applies to everything in life. Nothing is ever going to go the way you expect it to. If you don't want to be crazy cranky as you intentionally tear apart your home and your current world, just try to be a little bit flexible. There's really no other choice anyway. Set things up the way you'd like them to go, and then take your hands off the wheel. You are not in control. Never will be.

Moving is hard work, no matter how excited we are (and we are!) to make the move. Even with two strong guys doing the heavy lifting, Rick and I still did more physical work than either of us was ready for. Lots of groaning and ibuprofen played into getting us out of our apartment and pointed toward the beach.

Rule Number 2 for Happy Moving - Pay Someone to do it For You
This was the first time I've ever hired movers, and now I can see the error in my do-it-yourself ways all those years. You'll save a ton of time, stress, damage to your precious possessions, and personal physical discomfort, and land at your destination reasonably ready for the next big job of unpacking all those boxes. (More on that later.) Yes, it costs money to have someone else move your stuff. And it's worth every penny. Really. If Rick and I had tried to move all this stuff, plus the furniture you don't see here, plus the crap in storage that had been there untouched for three years, all by ourselves, not only would it have taken days to get it done, we probably would have ended up in the hospital, which is much more expensive that hiring movers. Also, pay someone to do your move-out cleanup. I "planned" for this (teehee), but the change in timing had me cleaning as we went along, leaving just the final wipe-down for about an hour after the apartment was emptied. It saved us a few bucks, but I would have preferred to let a pro do what they're good at.

I'm officially Thanking God for Willamette Valley Moving, right here and now, in front of all these people. Shannon and Michael took great care of our things - even our crappy Ikea things - and worked so fast we had a loaded truck and an empty apartment in just about two hours. Amazing. (BTW, I actually like my Ikea stuff, but I know the furniture doesn't hold up well in a move.)

As the movers, with their truck full of our worldly goods, headed back to the barn for the night, we drove over what we thought would be the clearest road to the coast. The recent snowstorm had made a mess of everything, and the roads in downtown Portland were the worst part of the trip. The rest of the drive looked more like we were heading for a ski trip than moving to the beach.

Once we got here, it was just us and what we'd crammed into the car. We still needed to dig out the air bed and sleeping bags for one more round of house camping, but keeping our priorities straight, we first headed for the U Street Pub, which happens to be right around the corner from our house. We sat there in kind of a weary stupor, and enjoyed our beers and veggie burgers (which are easily veganized by leaving the butter off the bun, and holding the secret sauce. We added grilled onions this time. And next time I might even smuggle in a little vegan mayo and a couple of slices of Chao Cheese. We already have a new favorite place.

Rule Number 3 for Happy Moving - Fuel Your Sweet Self
Stop what you're doing every so often, and put something good to eat in your mouth. Drink water even more often. If you have to pee a lot, so much the better. It's a chance to sit down for a minute. Eat a real breakfast. Take a lunch break. Call somebody and have it delivered. Moving is about paying people to do as much as possible, because you really have quite enough to do already. And at the end of the day, let those boxes sit right where they are, and go get a good meal and a tasty beverage. The next phase of the work will wait, and you'll be able to actually function if you eat well and get some rest. (The big beer is mine. I love a good red ale.)

The next morning, the big truck arrived at 10:00, and we were ready for them. All camping gear was cleared, and the house was ready to be filled. What we didn't realize was that we had way more stuff than we thought we did. The house was filled, and then filled some more. The storage "breezeway," which runs the depth of the garage, was also filled. And in the course of two more hours of amazing moving-guys magic, we found ourselves surrounded by towers of things that suddenly looked more like junk than treasures. I think I cried a little.

Completely overwhelmed, we waved goodbye to the guys, and got to work. Again. Something I noticed in this move (which I truly hope will be my last move, ever, ever, ever), is that moving isn't just moving. It's moving the exact same things at least four times, and usually many more than that. Into the boxes, into the truck, out of the truck, and then out of the boxes. This doesn't factor in all the rearranging of boxes in each phase, or the rearranging of the practically everything as it finds its way into a new home. Rules 4 and 5 are here to help.

Rule Number 4 for a Happy Move - One Box at a Time
Don't freak yourself out by thinking you have to get everything unpacked all at once. I just tell myself, one box at a time, and if I'm feeling particularly fragile, just one box today will do. This gives me a sense of completion as I go. And of course, when I finish one box, I always go on to another one. I also yell, WooHoo! Empty box!, every time I break one down and toss it in the recycle pile.

No matter how carefully we pack, it always seems that too many stowaways find their way into our collections of precious objects. The way to prevent this is to throw things out as we're packing, of curse, but that never really seems to work, does it? I might need this set of plastic measuring cups from the Dollar Store... These rolls of gift wrap are still new... Worn out clothes I never wear might be just perfect in our new place... Plastic forks, and random napkins and chopsticks could come in useful, because future takeout restaurants might not provide these things...

The stress of moving makes us sort of nuts, and impairs our judgement. You're going to pack silly things. It's OK. We all do it. So when you get to your new home, and find all sorts of things you no longer want or need, just get rid of them already!

Rule Number 5 for a Happy Move - Get Rid of as Much as You Can
Truly. Dump it in the recycles or trash, or take it to the Goodwill. Right now. Don't put it in a drawer to be dealt with later, because you won't deal with it later. Start off life in a new place as free from crap as possible. You'll acquire more crap, and you'll need room for it.

It took me three days to get through the stacks of boxes in the house. That doesn't seem bad, until you look at what we have stored in the breezeway, which I actually have not done, because I'm afraid to. Rick assures me that it's at capacity, and that I shouldn't hand him anything else to put in there. I believe him.

This brings up a question. If we're comfortable and sort of settled in here, with pretty much everything we need, what in the hell is all that stuff out there, and what are we going to do with it?

Part of me wants to just haul it off to the Goodwill, unopened, and probably forever un-missed. But we're in a sort of unusual situation. Our house is a duplex, and the part we aren't living in is currently occupied by renters, who have a lease until April. We have to let them stay. And once they move, we'll be fixing up that half of our house to use as guest space and a vacation rental. So there's a good chance we're going to need some of that stuff out there eventually, because we basically have another house to furnish. Sigh... some stuff just has to wait.

Rule Number 6 for a Happy Move - Let Some Things Wait
This rule has a subtext: for a limited amount of time. In this case, I'm letting all those boxes of "extra" things sit there, out of sight, only until we get the guest space sorted out. After that, if it's not baby pictures or Christmas decorations, or papers we have to keep for seven years, out it goes! If we don't need it at that point, we never will.

Just as I emptied the last "indoor box" yesterday, there was a knock at the door. The UPS man was there, and that can only mean one thing... another freaking box! It seems absurd to be shopping right now, but the reality is, there are certain things this house needs that we didn't already have, and there are hundreds of things out in storage right now that we needed at some point (I suppose), but don't need now. Nobody said this was going to be simple or easy...

I know what's in that box. It's a thick, folding foam pad, which I bought to use on our uncomfortable couch, so my son can sleep on it when he comes by for a visit in the near future, before we have actual guest space. (Kids are the only ones who can get away with that, by the way. Don't drop by planning to crash on my couch unless I gave birth to you. Everyone else can wait for the lovely guest house I'm making for you.)

I left that box sitting unopened by the door, and joined Rick by the new electric fireplace, which I love very much. You know there was an adult beverage in hand, and a good snack too.

Rule Number 7 for a Happy Move - Rest and Regroup
Once your new nest is relatively comfortable, sit down, relax, pat yourself on the back (if you can still move your arms), and take it all in. It won't be perfect. There will be much re-moving of things, as well as removing and replacing things that no longer suit your life. That's all good, and creative, and part of the art of living a happy life. But you have to take a break before the next phase, which isn't "moving" anymore, it's "nesting". 

Nesting, which happens right after moving, requires going out and finding new twigs and bits of string. Yep, even with all the stuff we have, we're going to need some different stuff. I can't face it yet. I know I need a break, and I'm taking it.

This morning, looking at that box by the door, I think I might just send it back unopened. It seems like a better plan to do what we'll have to do eventually - go out and get a really comfortable couch. Then again, that's a plan, and we all know how useful those are...

And with that, I refer you back to Rule Number 1, which actually does work in most situations.


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