Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moving on

I just returned from walking the dog. While out meandering around at the end of her leash as she sniffed her way down the street and back, I noted several moving trucks, including one in the parking lot for my building. It is the twenty-third of the month. Not the first which is traditional moving weekend so I tried to figure out why anyone would be moving on the twenty-third. Then it hit me. No one wants to move on a holiday--Labor Day is coming up--and of course rental moving trucks will be at a premium.

Moving is something I know about as I have moved over forty times in my lifetime. I have lived in six states. Now I know that military people are moved around like chess pieces, but my parents weren't military and neither is my husband, so that was not a viable reason for relocating as often as some people change their underwear.

All but three of those moves were the "self-serve" type of move. You know the one I mean. You, the mover, scrounge the dumpsters behind grocery stores and liquor stores looking for clean, sturdy boxes. And then you beg, borrow and steal newspapers from all your neighbors to wrap up your worldly goods when you pack. When you run out of boxes, you use large plastic trash bags.

On the "day" all of your nearest and dearest--friends and relatives--gather around to carry out your belongings amidst much muttering and cursing--depending on the religious persuasion of your nearest and dearest. Hours later when you are installed in your new digs (which just means that the bed is set up and there's toilet paper in the bathroom) you provide the standard payment of pizza and the beverage of choice. Everyone eventually goes home, leaving you with the monumental task of unpacking which usually takes a few months.

Now if you happen to have professional packers and movers for your move, things are a bit different. No one tells you that you should go through your dwelling like a dose of salts and get rid of everything you don't want to take with you. Unlike when you self move, there is NO opportunity to sort and toss. One morning bright and early, the packers show up with boxes, tape, and paper. They begin at the front door, packing the nearest thing at hand and just move around the wall until they get to the next door.

You say you didn't want your pictures packed with the TV remote and that stack of outdated magazines? Toooooo bad. Should have had them all together before the packers arrived. You didn't want your garbage packed with the dishes? Ah, well, you should have made sure it was carried outside before they showed up. The damp towels you used after your quick shower this morning? They're going to smell wonderful after three weeks in storage. Trust me on this. I've been there.

Depending on the moving company some packers empty your dresser drawers by dumping them into a box. Some tape the drawers shut. Some pack your glassware with enough tissue to paper a stadium. Some just separate the layers of glasses with a thick mat of paper and then line them up. One mover asked me what I considered the most valuable possessions and those were packed like they were going on a space oddysey.

After experiencing long distance moving with professional movers, we learned to pack up and move our own computers and smaller fragile belongings. There is nothing like experience to get the message.

I want to say here that I truly admire and respect professional packers. In a matter of hours, they arrive, pack, label, and prepare all of your household goods for the movers. Movers are a separate group of people. And packing a moving truck is a true art. They fit furniture, boxes, and odd shaped belongings such as bicycles and patio furniture in a truck with the finesse of solving an intricate puzzle.

I have moved in the muggy heat of summer and I've moved in the middle of an ice storm. As far as I can tell, there isn't a good time to move. Twice I've moved across the country with only a city as my destination, not knowing until I arrived where my family would live. Once we spent four weeks in a hotel with four kids in the winter, waiting for paperwork to be finished so we could eventually move into a permanent place.

I'm sure that everyone reading this has at least one horror story about moving. And yet, as a nation, we continue to relocate with astonishing frequency. Or maybe, it isn't so amazing after all. Our forefathers all were movers. Deep down, it's part of our heritage. Otherwise, we would live in some other part of the world generation after generation.

My ancestors arrived in Maryland in the 1600s and proceeded to relocate every single generation to the newest frontier. That made for interesting research problems when I was working on the family history. So I guess it's in our blood--this urge to pack up and move on.


Kelly has of course put a new twist on the Emmeline saga at after all my work to pull it back from the edge. Tomorrow Amarinda will no doubt turn it on its side again at leaving me to straighten it all out once again. Sigh. Being the oldest elder is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.


  1. I am still trying to find things after our move last November. We never did find the TV/VCR remote and had to buy a new one...and then got cable, with it's own remote!

    My jewelry...half my photo albums...important documents...all buried in storage unit, either here or up in Martinsville...

    Yup, been there, still doing it:)

  2. As an ex-army brat I understand the whole moving thing. Pack it yourself, ply the moving men with food, flirt and supervise - nothing ever gets broken then

  3. And I still haven't unpacked. Well, not completely. I figure, why? I'm moving in a few months to some unknown place anyway. At least it will save time. AND if I haven't used it in the year I've been here so far, maybe I can stand to be without it for another 10 months. :)

  4. I hate moving. In my first two years of marriage, I moved four times. And none of them were local.

    We always pack ourselves, but refuse to do the actual moving ourselves, after a couple injured backs and suddenly very busy friends. :-) Professional movers all the way. Though those PODS things could work, too, if you're not in a hurry and don't have too much stuff.

    Let's October we'll have lived in this house for three years. That'll be a record!