Surviving the move



I’m not a pack rat-I’m more of a pack mule.

But as we move to our new nest this weekend, I’m determined to shed some of those splintery twigs and raggedy feathers I’ve been hauling around for too long.

With that end in mind, this week I’ve been playing a not-so-fun game of “What in the world was I thinking?” as I struggle to pack up all of our worldly possessions and move about a mile away from the shack we’ve been residing in for the past eight years.

You would think that living in extremely tight quarters would have already inspired me to downsize considerably. You would think that a person who lives and works in a seven square foot space-that she has to share with a husband and small child, who also have a little bit of stuff-would realize that keeping five copies of every issue of the newspaper she worked for four years ago is a little bit impractical-not to mention a fire hazard.

You would think that a person like that might have thrown away the double prints of the blurry outtakes from her son’s first birthday or the once funny cards from her own 30th birthday. You would think that a person like that might not have kept the snack schedule from the 2004 t-ball season, the takeout menu from a favorite Thai restaurant that’s been shuttered since 2005, the Axxess Book catalog from 2006, and the cell phone charger from 2007.

Getting rid of those things years ago would have been logical. I also should have gotten rid of the twelve years of scrapbooking magazines I’ve had taking up shelf space, the unflattering day glow green sweater I wore once, and the really cute brown boots that make my feet scream-and not in a good way.

What in the world was I thinking keeping all of this stuff around?

It’s long past time for us to move. I would never have agreed to move into the shack in the first place if I thought it would take eight years to get out. Then entropy and poverty set in. Plus the rent was cheap and the school district was good and until recently, we were winning the battle against the termites and all of the ancient light fixtures were still working and the shower wasn’t leaking onto the floor of my closet.

What in the world was I thinking keeping all of this stuff around?

Somehow it took getting a demolition notice to get us moving. And when I say moving, I mean moving with a really quick deadline, to get me to get rid of all this stuff. I guess I’m just a deadline-driven kind of gal. I like deadlines. I never miss a deadline. Seriously, ask my editors. I might ask for an extension every once in a blue moon, but I NEVER miss a deadline.

Deadlines give me structure and discipline and a reason to get out of bed. I just have to think of moving like a deadline for a really huge project that I’ll be really happy about once it’s over.

Of course, unlike finishing a magazine article, a book, or even filling out insurance forms, I’ll have less money when I’m done moving-not to mention even more work to do once I get to the new place.

Let’s face it, I’ll be happy to “have moved,” but moving itself is pure hell. It’s as if some masochist combined the worst elements of torture, dust allergies, scavenger hunts, paper cuts, and physical aches and pains into one brutal, emotionally punishing, very expensive episode. Not to mention that once the packing is done there are hours of lifting, dragging, kicking, screaming, hoisting and herniating to look forward to.

Plus, did I mention the paper cuts? I really hate the paper cuts.

Did you know an estimated 42 million Americans move each year? There’s a whole Google’s worth of insightful information, like, “Moving is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.” (No kidding?) Or helpful tips like, “Put all boxes into one room so you don’t have to run around the house like a madman on the big day.” (If I could put all my boxes in one room then I wouldn’t have too much stuff now, would I?)

I wish I could say that I was the only one in my family with too much stuff. Unfortunately I discovered a graveyard for outdated computers and stereo equipment in my husband’s home office. So what if that old laptop doesn’t work anymore, it still serves an important purpose-covering the stain on the carpet made by the leaky lava lamp he was going to fix “someday.”

My son has an archive of smiley face notes from his first grade teacher, Dum Dum Pops wrappers he was saving to get x-ray glasses, and beach debris he was planning to sell to Grandma “someday.”

But that’s okay because by Saturday morning all of those items will be carefully packed and labeled in boxes, and by Saturday afternoon they’ll be in our new house.

I hear it’s a great garage sale neighborhood.

When Leslie can locate her computer, and cable guy comes to hook up the Internet “between Monday at noon and the next solar eclipse” she can be reached at Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on January 16, 2009.

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