But here’s the thing, I really believe that moving is a little extra traumatic for me than it is for normal people.
First, until recently, as in the last 2 years/moves, I was a pack rat (or “pre-hoarder” as I like to call it.)
Second, I hate change. In college I set my room up exactly the same way every year. Same posters by the desk, same nick-nacks on the dresser, and to this day I hang my clothes in the same order in the closet (dresses and pants on the right, shirts in the middle, sweaters and coats on the left. Obviously.)
Third, and I really think this is the kicker, I believe if you ignore something unpleasant it will eventually go away. And while this may be a fine strategy for dealing with strange lumps in your breasts and weird noises coming from your car engine, its terrible for moving.
And finally, take issue number two, add it with issue number three and moving day equals pure hell for everyone.
In the 14 years since I’ve graduated college I’ve moved 7 times. And the first 4 happened in the first 5 years and with my same group of friends helping me move each time.
And these friends would show up to my house on moving day, and find that I was not packed to their standards, and get really mad at me. Now, in my defense, the first 2 times I thought I was packed, but then kept discovering endless cupboards, closest and corners that I’d missed. So much scolding, yelling and judgmental glances accompanied the sweating and heaving of the day.
Each time a new moving day approached, I swore to myself, and my long-suffering friends, that I’d be better. And each time the number of cupboards and closets I’d forgotten decreased.
But then there were these mysterious packing rules that I kept violating. Like how self-contained, but small items, like a jewelry box or toaster, should still be put into a bigger box full of similar items. And breakable stuff is supposed to all be put together and clearly labeled FRAGILE so someone’s boyfriend doesn’t just toss my box of wine glasses willy nilly into the back of the truck, BUT you’re NOT supposed to put all your books in one box.
How am I supposed to keep all of that straight?
Each move I learned new rules and followed them on the next move, but no matter what, somehow I was never as ready to go when the U-Haul pulled in as I thought I was the night before.
Surveying my place the night before the move, I would see boxes neatly stacked and empty cupboards and closets.
The next morning I’d see chaos and small items that should have been consolidated, and more stuff that should have been thrown away, and generally at least another day’s worth of work to really be deemed “ready to move”.
I finally realized around move #5 that it was a trick my brain would play on me when I was tired of packing, or overwhelmed from the emotional toll of the change.
My brain is not as funny as it thinks it is.
And as the morning of Moving Day would dawn I’d be seized by angst and panic knowing that this would be another day filled with my friends scolding and mocking me in between fantasies of crushing me under my boxes.
When it was time for move #6, Chris and I had been dating for exactly 10 weeks. I was moving from a shared apartment into basically a single room in a town house. I had downsized to the point where everything fit comfortably inside a 4X8 trailer with room to spare.
Chris kept insisting that he and I could do the move alone. I explained that moving me is always a disaster. I explained about the years of lectures and threats to end friendships from other people who had moved me. He always responded with a variation of “You worry too much. I’m sure it will be fine.”
I wanted to believe him, but couldn’t trust that our fledgling relationship could handle the weight of all my possessions carried one at a time.
So I called in some favors and managed to get two friends to help us with the move, and thank god I did. Not so much because of the volume of stuff to be carried, but because having the extra people helped distract Chris’s attention when someone moved my closet door, or my bed, and uncovered a new pile of stuff I’d forgotten to pack.
Move #7 was last week. This time I was moving from a 10x9ft room into a 12X12 ft room. Again, Chris insisted that we could do it by ourselves, which was good since we ended up having to do it on a weekday afternoon which means that everyone has an iron clad excuse not to help.
I believed this move was going to be easy. I was 80% packed two weeks out, and the day before I honestly believed I was as ready as a person could possibly be. I’d even gotten a head start on the cleaning.
But I couldn’t trust my brain, it had let me down before.
The week leading up to the move I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating, and I had constant headaches from the tension in my neck and shoulders. Chris kept saying “Its going to be fine. As long as you’re really ALL packed,” or “Nothing is going to go wrong. As long as it’s not a repeat of last year where we kept finding things that weren’t packed.”
See? Even optimistic-everything-will-be-fine, Chris had started to turn.
I kept going over the list both out loud and in my head like a mantra: Every item was in a box or bag. Every box and bag was light enough that I could pick it up. Every piece of furniture was dusted, shelves were removed from book cases and contents emptied from drawers.
I. Was. Ready.
Except as mantras went, instead of calming me it made me more anxious. The stakes were higher than they’d ever been.
First, I was offering reassurance on a level I’d never done before, so if it turned out that, like every other move, I really wasn’t ready I was a liar as well as a terrible packer.
Second, if I wasn’t ready, and the move was another disaster, it was going to be Chris who was scolding me, and sighing in exasperation. Chris! Who has never scolded me or sighed in exasperation at me, despite ample opportunity.
The night before the move I had a nightmare that I was schizophrenic, and kept running around asking people what was true and what was real about my life.
I woke up with a horrible headache, and aching muscles from the ball of tension I’d pulled myself into while I slept.
Luckily we weren’t getting the truck until 12:30 so we didn’t have to miss a full day of work. Except I ended up calling in sick, worried that if I went into work I’d just sit at my desk and cry all morning from the stress. So I took a long hot shower, and cooked some scrambled eggs which I forced down over the knot in my stomach.
I went over to my place at 9 and moved half the contents of my room out into the hallway, staging them by the stairs. I didn’t know if we’d take the bed out first or last (that being another of those moving rules I never understand), so I just made sure it was ready to go either way. At 11:45 I couldn’t think of a single other thing to do, so I went back over to Chris’s to try to eat lunch (didn’t happen).
And guess what?
We had me moved out in 25 minutes flat. It was, for the first time in my life, an organized and relatively easy move. Because of the layout of the new place it took a little longer to unload, but we had the truck back to the U-haul place barely 3 hours after we’d rented it, and that included a 20 minute drive each way to the U-haul place.
This might count as one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to date.
And you know what else? Chris and I work really well together. Which I kind of already knew, but moving is exhausting and fraught with frustration and opportunities to fuss at each other. Even at the end, when we were both so hot and sweaty and tired, and Chris’s bad shoulder had basically given out, and I was starving and light headed from not eating lunch and it looked like my box spring wasn’t going to make it into the room, thereby ruining our record for the most perfect move ever, we remained a team. And that is no small thing. And I think it was because we both stayed calm and kept working together that we were eventually able to figure out a way to get my box spring into the room.
And I know that the next question on everyone’s lips, is “where did you move and are you living with Chris?”
And the answer is no, Chris and I did not move in together.
But that is a topic for another blog 🙂