Nobody likes moving. Actually, let me qualify that. When I was in college, every summer, I went and worked for a moving company. It was long days, usually starting at 6 or 7 a.m. and often lasting well into the night. It was physically challenging, and not very mentally stimulating, but I loved it. There was something very satisfying about how straightforward and simple it was. At the beginning of the day, the truck is full and the house is empty. At the end of the day, the house is full and the truck is empty. Easy as that. Everyone is happy, a job well done. Every night, I slept like a baby, and woke up ready and eager to go the next day. In some (many) ways, I miss that simplicity.
But moving yourself isn’t nearly as fun, especially when it’s your stuff, your time, you’re not getting paid and, in fact, you are the one paying, in ways both expected and un-.When you move as an “adult,” and you are moving yourself, and it’s your stuff, it takes a heavy toll, on (1) your body, (2) your stuff, (3) your kids, and ultimately (4) your sanity.
(1) Your body: I am not 18 anymore. I don’t know how I had the strength or the energy to do this every day for 3 months straight back then, but I am no longer cut out for this: running up and down stairs carrying boxes of books and heavy furniture and appliances, staying up until the wee hours packing things once the kids are (finally) down and out of the way, shuttling back and forth between Uhaul and your storage unit and your apartment and your house, all while holding down a full-time job as well as fulfilling your obligations as a parent and spouse, with no breaks. My back is sore, I am exhausted, I am stressed, I am in a (perpetually) bad mood, I am burned out.
(2) Your stuff: Stuff takes a beating when you move. I don’t think it matters whether it’s friends, family members, neighbors, or professionals helping, your stuff gets lost, dirty, scratched, disorganized, destroyed. If you ever wanted to (and I don’t know why you would ever want to do this) but if you ever wanted to simulate the moving experience re: your stuff, without actually moving, you would first collect all the important paperwork you possess (i.e. contracts, receipts, insurance information, etc.) Take half of this stuff and run it through a shredder. Take half of what remains, and hold it out your window while driving, loosening your grip every couple of miles. Take whatever is left, and divide it up into several random piles. Pack each of those piles in the bottom of a box that you never plan on opening again, don’t include any label on the outside of the box indicating there are important documents inside, and throw each of these boxes onto the truck, in no particular order. For your furniture, take a few key pieces, grab a sledge hammer, and swing away (if you are on the second floor of an apartment, and you don’t have a sledge hammer handy, just throw the item off your balcony to similar effect). If you have any upholstered items, put those out on the lawn, and invite the local high school football team over, after practice, well-muddied, and ask them to jump up and down, repeatedly, on your couch, with their cleats on. Any remaining, undamaged furniture items, tie to a rope, attach that rope to the bumper of your car, and drive around the block a time or ten. Take any other valuables, and just dump half of them straight down the toilet.
(3) Your kids- This one was particularly bad this move. Always, they are unsettled, nervous, (extra) ornery, they aren’t napping, they won’t go to sleep, they develop clingy-ness and acute separation anxiety. On top of that, last night, all our stuff was in the house, and we were beginning the months’ long process of getting “organized” (I use the term very loosely). My oldest came in from a long day outside and announced “Dad, I think I have a rash.” “Well, let me see it,” I said. Without hesitation, he pulled his pants et al. completely down, exposing (in addition to the obvious) the telltale signs of about 35 chigger bites. If you have never had the pleasure of summering in the Midwest, a chigger is a six-legged mite larva that sucks the blood of vertebrates and causes intense irritation. Picture a mosquito bite, only more intense, longer lasting, and migrating/spreading a little bit from the original scene of biting. Oh, and P.S., they seem to love the area between the bottom of your shorts and just inside the top of your waist line. And everything in between. I have a couple myself at present; very unpleasant.
We threw him in the bath and had some anti-itching cream at the ready. We decided to bathe the other two as well. I called to them to put them in the other bath. My 19-month-old son appeared, running down the hall with a foot-long plastic vacuum cleaner attachment in his mouth. Of course. Was I surprised when he tripped and fell? No. Was I surprised when he started screaming? No. Was I surprised when his mouth was bleeding? No. Was I surprised to see that one of his molars appeared to be halfway dislodged, with the two interior roots completely exposed? A little bit. I took him into our bathroom and was putting water in his mouth to try and stop the bleeding. My wife came in and was helping me. The oldest was still in the other bathroom, whining and scratching himself furiously. We kind of lost track of our other 19-month-old for a second. But she showed up soon enough. Somehow, in the commotion, she had acquired and escaped with a bottle of chewable Tums. When we found her, she had the top open, 4 dissolving in her mouth, a couple more in her hand, and who knows how many already ingested? If she doesn’t poop for a week, we’ll know why.
Oh, and did I mention that the new outside doors to the house have pretty, levered handles that the twins can open with almost no effort, even if they are locked? It takes them about thirty seconds to go from upstairs with us to out in the garage to the bottom of the driveway. Thankfully, we found this out through a gentle honk from a concerned and patient neighbor rather than a speeding teenager or pizza-delivery guy. We got lucky. It could always be worse.
(4) Your sanity: If you can endure the above with any shred of sanity intact, you are a better person than I am.
I hope not to be moving again for a long, long, long, long time.