Archive for September 25th, 2013

On the move…again

In principle, I actually kind of like moving. My family moved every few years when I was growing up, but never further than a mile or two away (my mom and dad built houses as a side job, so they would build us a new one every so often). As a kid, all I was responsible for packing was my room, so that took very little time and left plenty of mental bandwidth for excitement: thinking about what color to paint my new bedroom and exploring the neighborhood. I also enjoyed going through my stuff, tossing what I didn’t need, and making everything streamlined and efficient (yes, I’m weird; that’s probably why I ended up as a physicist).

Then, in college and grad school, I got in the habit of moving once (or twice!) a year. I still got enjoyment of changing my surroundings and living in new spaces as well as lightening my load a bit. When you live in the dorm, you don’t generally even have your own furniture, so during those years I prided myself in being able to put all my possessions into one car when the school year was over. Apartment living got a little more complicated, but even two bedrooms full of stuff wasn’t all that bad with a U-Haul and some help from friends. Once Bart and I got married, we moved apartments a couple of times before we finally settled into our first house. And then my eyes were finally opened.

We didn’t have a huge house in Colorado, but it is amazing what you accumulate when you finally have some room, especially when you finally aren’t moving all the time. Aside from the essentials you had before in the kitchen and bedrooms, the bulk of new stuff is typically furniture and hobby stuff, which in our case includes a garage full of tools and two knitting machines. And these items tend to be the bulkiest and heaviest. Plus, it’s easy to accumulate even modest amounts of junk, even if you think you’re staying on top of it, as I have done in the past. But there is nothing like facing the reality of moving an entire house of stuff 1,600 miles to suddenly make you feel like you belong on an episode of Hoarders.

Needless to say, our move last fall sucked the joy of moving right out of me. De-junking an entire house at once causes vastly more mental and emotional strain than one or two rooms. Handling heavy and bulky items with just the two of us was challenging. Cleaning 3 beds/2 baths/kitchen/basement/garage at once was mind boggling (and eventually left to professionals…it’s 100% not in my nature to pay for that kind of thing, but there was no way I could mentally deal with that at the end). Trying to fit the most fragile or awkwardly-shaped objects (like lamps, artwork, and tools) into boxes or wrap them carefully was nerve-wracking. And getting an entire house full of stuff packed efficiently into the back of a semi briefly challenged our sanity and marriage vows (but only briefly :)).

In the end, we did manage, though I admit I was seriously more stressed while moving than when I was writing and defending my thesis earlier that year. And the biggest problem was that it wasn’t finished: we knew we’d be doing it all again when our lease was up and we bought a house. Which is now.

Now that things are rolling on the house and we wait for the official closing, I’m finally having to accept the fact that it’s time to move again. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. But I couldn’t ignore it any longer after Bart retaped all our moving boxes this weekend.


Well, rather than be in denial and be stressed trying to do it all at the last minute, I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I made a list. It’s on a marker board prominently displayed in our living area; each week we’re making a list of things we can pack and clean as we get closer to the date. That should keep us on track and accountable for not waiting until the last moment. It does help that we didn’t unpack everything, so at least 30% of our boxes are already ready to go. And, even with as much stuff as we got rid of last time, we are now willing to part with even more, so we’ll be putting a few things on Craigslist and sending a lot to donation places (anyone need a Christmas tree?).

We still haven’t decided exactly how we are getting our stuff from point A to point B, but we should have a lot more flexibility just going 30 miles instead of 1,600. All those awkward items don’t need to be boxed and wrapped because I can just toss them in the back of my car, and I can actually go back to the rental to clean after we’ve evacuated. But everything does have to move one way or the other, so it’s not trivial. However, I am absolutely determined to not be stressed out this time. So far, so good. Now, somebody hand me that tape gun…

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