Where are my bandaids?

Three days into the unpacking and much progress to report.

The kitchen is now entirely unpacked, organized and ready for use.  Mr. NYer, unfortunately, has a map of the old kitchen hard-wired in his brain, and can’t find anything.  I’ve explained the logic endlessly:  the flatware and dishes are near the table, for ease when setting it.  The food prep utensils, like vegetable peelers, are to the right of the sink, near the knives. The cooking utensils, like wooden spoons, are in a drawer next to the stove.

The new kitchen is spacious, airy and bright.  But it’s not familiar, and this makes Mr. NYer grumpy.  This morning, after he complained for the third time about the location of the microwave light, I laid down a new rule:  every complaint had to be balanced with a comment about something he liked.  A little later, he grumbled about the way the pots were stored.  “And … , ” I prompted.  “… what’s something you like in our new kitchen.”

Barely skipping a beat, he looked around, then in my direction.  “I like you.”

Grrr.

The dining room, with my mother’s crystal and the china I bought as a belated gift from her shortly after she died, are in the cabinet.  The computer is sitting on the desk in the den, alongside the printer, router, and external drive. Towels and sheets are on shelves; clothes, including the winter wear we may never need again–or at least in the quantity we have it–have been hung in the various closets.

We have an attic storage room where the boxes of books and records await unpacking at our leisure, after we’ve decided on shelves.

In other words, the big boxes are empty, and what’s left is clearly identifiable as books, records, pictures, my bank collection, or “basement” stuff.

I have no idea where the band-aids are.  These, along with all the other medicinal supplies, the baskets of hotel soaps, the electric clippers we bought when the Abandoned One adopted a buzz cut–all have vanished.  Mr. NYer says all the boxes that left the house in NY arrived in the house in Montgomery, so these items are hiding.  There are no more boxes labeled “linen closet.”

In the grand scheme of things, we’re talking about a quick trip to CVS and about a year’s worth of business trips to replace the misplaced items.  And once I replace them, I’ll probably pull a box of “books” from that attic utility room and find a box o’ melted soap instead.

In the new house

Tonight we will sleep in our bed, on our own mattress.  We are so looking forward to it.

It took three guys about 8 hours to pack all of our stuff.  It will take us a lot longer to unpack.  The boxes and furniture arrived on Tuesday.  We spent the next two evenings and all of today, Thursday, unpacking.  The kitchen.  Yes, we’re just finishing with the kitchen.

Once in the kitchen we realized this house was built for extremely tall people.  Mr. NYer thinks the developers were perhaps trying to lure a professional basketball team to Montgomery.  The ceilings are 10 feet high, which results in nicely proportioned rooms.  But with high ceilings come high cabinets.  Neither of us can reach the third shelf on any of the above-the-counter cabinets.  I have to stand on tip-toes to reach the knob on the cabinet above the refrigerator.

We are also befuddled by the array of  electrical switches options.  Our last house was 90 years old.  When we moved in, we discovered that a single circuit served all the bedrooms, the bathroom, the attic and looped in an additional outlet on the way past the living room.   We had ceiling lights with pull-chains, the dining room and all the bedrooms each had a single outlet, and if you wanted the upstairs hall light on, you had to walk upstairs in the dark and turn it on.

This house, in stark contrast, is extravagantly lighted and wired. Wall switches come in sets of three, and it seems that no light is controlled by only one switch.  You can turn the living room lights on as you enter the room, and hit another switch as you leave to turn them off.  And such a rich combination of lighting options.  In the kitchen, we can opt for the main recessed lights, or add in the over-the-sink recessed light, the under-the-cabinet lights, and the microwave light.

We’ve never had a garage before, and the automatic garage doors also befuddle us.  We’ve yet to figure out if there’s a way to open them from inside without the clicker in your hand.  There must be, of course, but we haven’t found it.

The new front-loading washer amazes us with its intermittent and seemingly deliberative dispensing of water and on-and-off agitation. The fact that the washer and dryer sit directly next to each other, just steps from the master bedroom and closet, is a near miracle.

We haven’t tried the jetted tub yet.

Unpacking has been a kind of magical mystery trip.  Remember, we didn’t do the packing.  The three guys labeled them each by room, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess what’s inside.  One of the first boxes yielded a favorite tea-pot, but no lid.  Eight or nine boxes later, the lid emerged.  What we’re guaranteed to find is paper, a small forest of it.  Not only is every object wrapped in layers of newsprint (sans ink), but wads of paper fill every spare inch of every box.  It’s really good packing — the only breakage so far has been from us.  We’ve devised a way to cram as much paper as possible into contractor’s bags.  We compress by hand, fill, and periodically I sit atop the open bag to compress the contents some more.  Eight filled to the brim bags sit on our driveway now awaiting pick-up tomorrow.

We hope the garbage men find us.  Mr. NYer went to the Montgomery Water Works last Friday to register for water and trash service.  They told us they’d drop off one of those nice big garbage cans on wheels, but we haven’t seen it yet.  Our house is new, as is our street, and we’re having trouble convincing some people it exists.  The street, for instance, isn’t on our GPS.  And according to Netflix, our address doesn’t exist.

The cable company — the one that has a monopoly in this development — isn’t sure about us either.  We called yesterday to set up service.  They couldn’t take the order, or make an appointment, because they had to check to see if they covered our address.  Today Leah, the cable customer service person, called just to let us know that no one has come out to check that our house really is here, but that they would, soon.

So we’re sitting here in our well-lit living room, connected to the world via air card and blackberry tether.  The cats have been in their new home for about two hours, and they are restless.  The normally easy-going Mush is yowling, as if to say, “Enough is enough.  First those hotels, then two days in a cage, then the apartment.  When will this end?” The Lunatic, who we sedated in order to capture and cage him, is prowling about in a state of hyper-vigilance.

Lifelongnewyorker knows this post is begging for art.  Not to worry — she took photos.  Watch this space.

Untethering

Where is my tether?

I’m referring, of course, to the cord that attaches my Blackberry to my computer and allows me to have Internet access anywhere.  Once we turn in the cable boxes, we’ll need it.  I can’t find it.

This is probably the 10th or 15th item I couldn’t find today.  On the phone, our lawyer asks for the account number of our mortgage and a copy of our latest water bill.  No problem — I put both of these in a package of materials not to be packed.  All of the things not to be packed are on the bed.  Alas, the legal-size manilla envelopes with these papers never made it to the bed.  Mr. NYer remembered that they’d been left on the shelves in the computer room, which were … already packed.

But the moving guys obliged.  One remembered the envelope and gamely proved the rule that it’s always in the last box.

Slowly but surely, other needed items have disappeared. The sugar bowl, the boxes of tea, the lamps.  The movers believe in minimalism, and we will live that way tonight.  They plan to leave us with one lamp, a floor lamp that we can carry around like a candlestick on steroids.

How did I get here?

On a plane, on Saturday night, of course.  The cab driver, in a first for New York City’s fleetest, carried my bag up the twenty-three steps to my front door.  It almost made me sad to be leaving.  I rang the bell to let Mr. NYer know I was home, then opened the door only to have him grab me and, basically, not let go.  “Thank God you’re home,” he said aloud.

To himself, I think he added, “There’s a lot of work to do.”

And work we did.  Sunday and Monday we made arrangements, wrote lists, and cleared out the rest of the stuff that wasn’t coming with us.  You know how the things you least want to do are the ones you put off until the end?  Well, the end has arrived.

Case in point:  Thirty five years ago, I did a college art history project on the architectural history of Staten Island.  My professor encouraged me to try to get a grant to continue the work, and recommended I work with another student who was a photographer.  That student, who subsequently became a boyfriend, borrowed a valuable book on the small houses of Ernest Flagg, a Staten Island architect, from the secretary of the Art Department.  Fast forward a couple of years, and ex-boyfriend, following the lead of his hero John Denver, decides he needs to live in the Rocky Mountains, buys a used VW bus, puts a camera mount on the roof (I hate to think about what that did to his camera lens), and dropped the book off with me to return to its rightful owner.  I think I made one attempt, but she wasn’t at the college when I stopped by.  And then, life happened.  The book has traveled with me out of my parents house and into two apartments and a house.  I had a child.  The woman died and I read her obit in the Advance.

You might think I should just add the book to my own collection, but I couldn’t.  I stored it in the basement (I know), rather than risk thinking of it as mine.  As many of you know, Staten Island is a small world, so I was not entirely surprised when one of the elementary school classmates of the Abandoned One turned out to be the grandson of the woman who owned the book.  I intended to return the book to them, but it was hardly top of mind, nor was it within handy reach.

Until Sunday, when the Men with Truck came to clean out the basement, and I wound up with the book in my hands.  Did I have the heirs’ phone number?  Of course not; nor were they listed.  But Mr. NYer remembered that Mrs. Heir was on Facebook, and I sent a message.  Monday night she called and, like a repentant sinner, I told her the story of the book that had once belonged to her mother-in-law.  This morning I wrapped it in shrink wrap and Mr. NYer left it at their house.

One item off the list.

Originally, we hoped to have another two or three weeks before the closing, and had carefully gauged our consumption of cleaning liquids, wine and other spirits accordingly.  By Monday, though, we needed to deal with the bottles of ammonia, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, soy sauce, white, cider and rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and enough seltzer to start a soda shop.  We counted up nine bottles of champagne or prosecco.  And not bad stuff.  Then there were the odd bottles of hard liquor that we rarely drank but that had somehow accumulated over the years:  vermouth, flavored vodka, rum, Harvey’s Bristol Cream …

None of this can go in the car.  We need room for the cat cage, Mr. NYer’s clothes, and other necessities. These are all contraband items for interstate moves.  We’d already filled dozens of contractors or recycling bags, and were trying hard to lighten the load.  The trusty plumbing system beckoned.  And so I began pouring.   Shortly after the first elixirs from the medicine cabinet went down the tube, I looked out the window to see a large DEP truck stopping on the street.  Seems the sewer was backing up into the houses across the street.  Great.  Imagine not only finding that you’re getting a sewer backing up, but wondering why it smells like ammonia.

In about an hour the DEP let us know that the system was running fine, and we could resume use.  Little did they know …

Two days of final cleaning down.  Day One of the move itself down: the house is 90% packed.  Only one item — a globe from a small Ikea lamp–broken.  Tomorrow is Move Day Two: the Loading of the Truck, then the furious cleaning, and tomorrow night the walk-through.  Thursday the closing.  Friday Mr. NYers retirement party.  And then Saturday, we’re on the road.  Just us and the two cats.

Did we remember to keep the cat sedative unpacked?

D-day Minus four

No sagas, reveries or wry observations today folks.  Tonight’s post is purely to catch up.

We hosted 45 friends and family at an open house on New Year’s Day.  Last night, we went to dinner and played Beatles Trivial Pursuit (not for the faint-hearted) with six friends whom we hadn’t seen on New  Year’s Day.  I have one or two visits planned over the next day or so, but most of the goodbyes have been said. 

Long-distance movers have visited to survey my belongings, take inventory and provide an estimate.  Looks like just under 12,000 pounds.  But I have been giving them a worst-case moving scenario, including furniture I probably won’t take, so maybe we’ll squeeze in at only five tons.

One mover, very practical, looked at the bumper-to-bumper parking on my up-the-block-from-a-school street favored by the teachers and asked if I would be able to talk to my neighbors and get them not to park.  “Figure,” he said, “we’ll need about ten car lengths.”

I may have to hire a different kind of muscle for that. 

Another mover came in, looked at the strapped up bundles of boxes UPS had left in my entry and living room and laughed, telling me it was “a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ll need.”

After three estimates we’ve decided not to pack ourselves, but to focus on what I’ve talked — and written  — about all along, which is weeding.  Since My Hero has offered to run our moving sale, the weeding has been much easier.   We’ve weeded the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the TV room and the linen closet completely.  The computer room and sun room have gone through the first pass and will get the second tomorrow.  Great progress has been made in the attic’s dark, dark room — and brought the discovery of Soon-to-be-Abandoned’s dinosaur comforter, which we didn’t realize we still owned.  We all hugged it briefly before consigning it to the trash heap.

Even the basement is beginning to empty out.  We’ve identified about 60% of its contents by eventual disposition: moving, moving sale, or dust heap.  There have been some grungy, yucky finds, and oaths have been uttered under Mr. NYer’s breath.  Vows have been made to never let this (the mindless accumulation) happen again.  And there’s a lot of stuff that can’t be moved.  Turns out you can’t move flammable liquids (reasonable), aerosol cans (understandable), or nail polish (huh?) via long-distance movers.   The movers all come with attractive presentation folders with helpful  moving tips.  Consider taking these items yourself rather than sending them on the moving van:  furs, fine jewelry, bonds, coin collections, important papers, gold bullion.  Do not pack frozen food or fresh produce.  Roger that. 

Soon-to-be-Abandoned, who seemed to slump about the same time I did, has emerged from his funk and begun taking charge of his own stuff.  He’s coming around to the “travel light” philosophy, beginning with his hair, which he had shorn for the first time since entering college seven years ago.  After packing one book box and feeling its weight, he told me that he’s reassessing which books he really needs. 

Mr. NYer gave up another bunch of LPs.   I threw out make-up that I bought to cheer  myself up, most likely because there wasn’t a shoe store nearby, and which I will never wear, since I rarely wear makeup anyway.  There’s only so much you need in your case for those occasions when you’re onstage.   The grey wig I bought for character roles lies in a box; it is not Alabama-bound.  I keep passing it thinking it’s one of my cats.

Speaking of cats, Mr. NYer and I successfully got Lunatic Cat to the vets.  We have two cats.  The older is a mush who doesn’t mind being picked up or handed to complete strangers.  As long as he is fed, he is happy.   He doesn’t like travel, but if you want him in the carrier, well … your will be done.  And then we have the Lunatic, an 18-month old who can read minds and believes everyone is out to get him.  He does not like to be picked up and has no intention of being put into that cage.

We adopted the Lunatic when he was a year old.  A woman who already had somewhere betwen five and 23 cats fostered him for a year but felt she couldn’t keep him permanently.  However, she has remained attached, deeply attached, and leaves messages on Mr. NYer’s cell phone every two or three months, weepily asking for news.  She thoughtfully included a three-page hand-written letter with the Lunatic when she put him up for adoption, and she noted that he was a bit skittish.  Later she admitted that it was so difficult for her to trim his nails that she resorted to sitting on him.  No wonder he runs when people approach.

A few months ago the Lunatic needed booster shots, so Mr. NYer scheduled a vet’s appointment.  I called on the way home from work and asked how it went.  “It didn’t,” Mr. NYer told me.  “I never got to the vets.”   Although he managed to catch the Lunatic, Mr. NYer had failed to wear protective gloves.  A few scratches and one major bite later, the Lunatic was deep under the bed and refused  to come out.

We rescheduled on a day that we would both be home, and placed the carrier in the living room a day ahead of the visit.  To limit his escape routes, we closed all the bedroom doors.  Mr. NYer rubbed himself with organic catnip.  The Lunatic knew what was up, I don’t know how, and zipped about the house, caroming off walls, doors and furniture.  Both armed with bath towels, we lunged and captured him, only to see him slide out and zoom off at 90 miles an hour.  Twenty-five minutes later, he ran into a corner where I was able to lean down, grab him by the scruff and life him up in time for Mr. NYer to wrap a towel, like a straight jacket, around his legs.  We then stuffed the entire package, cat and towel, into the carrier and checked for bleeding.

At the vets, of course, the Lunatic was a model of good cat behavior.  He was docile, but clearly terrified, and when the vet concluded the exam, he actually walked back into his carrier. 

We have put off thinking hard about transporting the Mush and the Lunatic, but the vet gave us drugs (for the cat), and we think we’ll live through it.  He warned us NEVER to let them out in the car. 

So that’s where we are.  We know the cats can be caged; one of them will most likely be sedated; and we will endure two or three days of hell with them on the road.   The lucky mover who gets the job will pack up less stuff than we have now.  We’re concentrating not on packing but on lightening the load.  This week, I will gather up the clothes and personal belongings I’ll need for the next couple of months and, in just four more days, we will hit the road for Alabama. 

Oh my.

I Am a Cast-Iron Frying Pan

I am a cast-iron frying pan.  Or maybe a griddle.

Like the pan, I perform really well once I’m heated up.  You know the rule for pancakes, don’t you?  Throw the first batch out — the pan probably wasn’t hot enough.

When I begin a new project, especially one that requires a bit of stretching to wrap my arms around it, I take time to get to the fully effective stage.  The warm-up is marked by false starts, distractions and intermittent bouts of panic.

So it’s been the last few days as I’ve been home contemplating packing.  I try out various strategies — mainly in my mind — and find myself thinking of reasons they won’t work and should be abandoned, or at least postponed.  The UPS guys brought about 100 boxes yesterday.  So far, I’ve filled exactly one-half of one.  Turns out it’s premature to pack, because I haven’t edited my belongings enough.  

Another stab in the dark related to the basement.  We have probably eliminated about 25% of the stuff that was clearly junk and could just go to the curb.  We’ll take about 15% with us, which leaves 50% of the basement contents in limbo.  Since I don’t have the time to sort, clean and try to sell it, I decided I needed to get someone to haul it away.  I collected recommendations on businesses (GotJunk is a franchise!), or guys with trucks, who would render this service.  But I didn’t pull the trigger and call any of them, because a) it drove me crazy to think I’d be paying for something I could accomplish for free by continuing to haul it to the curb, and b) I wondered if this was the most effective use of my limited time?

Various packing strategies played out in my mind:  weed, clear room in the basement, pack and store boxes down there.  No.  Leave the packing to the movers and focus exclusively on weeding.  No, focus only on my personal stuff this week, and leave the rest.  OK, if I focus on my stuff, should I first pack the items that will come later with the movers, and then the stuff I’ll be taking down next week?  Or should I just leave the stuff I won’t be taking with me next week for the movers or Mr. NYer to pack?

You get the idea.  Paralyzed by too many potential paths of action, I am stranded at the inaction interchange.  Not to say I haven’t been busy.  I’ve had movers in for estimates and been occupied doing the kind of stuff that eats up time on the telephone.  I’ve run errands.  I cooked dinner last night. 

And I’ve been engaged in micro-weeding.  Instead of packing all the photos in boxes, I’ve decided that I can whittle the collection down if I sort through each and every one of them and weed them out.  Kicking myself at this folly, I decided to march into my computer room and clean out one desk.  I would pack up what was going, and weed out the rest.  That’s where the half-box came in.  A good amount of stuff found its way to the trash.  But there was that in-between again.  I had a perfectly good telephoto lens for an SLR that I no longer owned.  Throw it out?  Ouch.  What about the six skeins of thread I purchased when I decided I was going to learn how to do filet crochet?  Still in original packaging!  Not to mention the books and records I’ve already mentioned repeatedly.  And the items of furniture.

When casting about for basement clean-out guys, one friend advised me to call another, who “has a pick-up truck” and “loves this.”  I called, and before long, Joe, aka My Hero, came to my rescue by agreeing — enthusiastically — to help us by organizing a moving sale in our house.  My Hero knows exactly what sells and what doesn’t, has a pricing philosophy which I won’t reveal, and said he’d enjoy doing it.   We compared calendars and agreed on a weekend AFTER I’ll be 1,000 miles away in Alabama.  I hesitated for a  nanosecond about committing Mr. NYer to the work, the prep and the weekend, but knew it was a great thing.

Finally, I think the pan is hot.  I went upstairs and rummaged through what I’d already weeded, pulling out article after article that could be included in the moving sale, and excluded from the moving van.  I designated a room for us to collect the items and started to pile things in.  When Mr. NYer came home, I filled him in and, eventually, won him over.  We’re starting a list of furniture to be included.

Of course, I’m still weeding on the level that takes time.  Yesterday I found a dozen of my mother’s hankies.  Do any of you remember when women carried little whiffs of linen around with which to delicately wipe their noses?  Those I found were trimmed in lace or printed with floral patterns.  A few were hand-embroidered, and there was one just for Christmas.  While I remember my mother tucking one of these up her sleeve, I also know that even she had stopped using hankies in favor of tissues, which she came to see as infinitely more hygienic.  But she kept her best hankies for some reason and, since she did, I guess I felt I had to as well.     

I emailed my sisters, reporting the discovery and asking if they wanted any of the hankies.  My sensible sister replied, “Only if they’re in good shape, I’ll take two.  NO MORE.”   Seemed like a good rule, so I culled them and assigned two to each of us; the other six are destined for the house sale.   Next I found both my parents’ wallets, complete with ancient credit cards, IDs, Medicare cards and really worn out school pictures of the grandkids.  Why on earth do I have these things?  Out, except for the one wallet that’s in good shape, which I set aside for the sale.  Next I unearthed a cache of 3-D holy cards depicting various scenes in the life of Jesus.  These, offered at my Grandfather’s wake in 1971, were universally seen as awful even then.  I don’t offer them to my sisters.  

And so it goes.  Tonight, I share the plan for the great, purifying and cathartic moving sale — and the timetable — with Soon-to-be-Abandoned.  Tomorrow, I hit my closets.  The iron is hot.

Countdown: 10 days left

Today was my first day at home.  With the Project done and the holidays over, I can now focus on getting ready to move.  I made a list of things to do that included making some doctors appointments, scheduling the cat for the vets, tying up 2009 paperwork, buying return airline tickets for Mr. NYer to fly back from Montgomery, and arranging for estimates from three movers.

The appointments made, I Googled long-distance movers and realized I hadn’t a clue how to pick one, let alone three.  So I Googled long-distance mover reviews and read about a dozen horror stories, the upshot of which is: don’t move or, if you must, don’t expect to ever see your belongings again.

Finally I found a site (movingscam.com) which not only gave advice on choosing a mover, but also provided a state-by-state and city-by-city forum for people to discuss and rate their movers.  Decided to pass on those that had been awarded little icons with a high voltage warning, and saw several with a thumbs up.  Then I read a few articles, like How to Choose a Mover (lots more due diligence than I feel up to), Ten Things Your Moving Company Won’t Tell You (Item 2: “We’re popular, especially with the FBI”), and, finally “Who Will You Trust to Drive Off with Everything You Own?”

Apparently, the long-distance interstate moving industry is almost completely unregulated.  Did you know that the Interstate Commerce Commission, one of the very first regulatory agencies established by the federal government, was abolished in 1995?   It’s been replaced by the Surface Transportation Board,  a name which does not inspire my confidence.  

Terrified, I decided instead to calculate the number of boxes we would need and decide whether it was better to have the movers pack (because, after all, they’re professionals) or to do it myself (because they don’t care two licks about my stuff).  Many Web sites, whose purpose is to sell boxes (“Sure you can use grocery boxes.  If you don’t mind the risk of infestation”), offer a convenient calculator that answers the question, How Many Boxes Do I Need?

It turns out I need approximately 927 boxes of various shapes, sizes and specialties.  Betcha didn’t know that a) moving companies require that everything be boxed except your furniture and b) some moving companies have a business relationship with box companies.   There are special boxes for, among other things, your golf clubs, your mattress, your floor lamps and your framed pictures. 

Each kind of box comes in a dizzying array of sizes.  We have a lot of framed pictures, so I thought I’d order a few frame boxes.  But should I get them 4, 5 or 6 inches deep?  Two feet wide, three  feet wide, or more?  Adjustable or fixed?   And don’t forget that you still have to bubble wrap the pictures.  Should I get 175 feet of 24″ wide wrap, or 250 feet of 12″ wide wrap?  Probably both, so I have some for the wider stuff.  Next, 3/16″ bubbles or 5/16″?  Perforated for easier tearing?

The fact is you can’t order the boxes, the bubble wrap, the extra strong packing tape (“Don’t trust your precious belongings to regular tape!”) until you conduct an exhaustive inventory of everything you own, measuring and weighing each item.  A team of engineers would be handy.  And you can’t even take that inventory until you really weed, which I haven’t finished yet.  It occurs to me that planning a move, especially if you are trying to do some of the packing yourself, is more complex than planning for the invasion of Normandy.  Eisenhower had a staff. 

Deciding that some boxes are better than none, I ordered a bunch, to be delivered tomorrow.  Mr. NYer and I had picked up eight boxes over the weekend, as a kind of packing appetizer, but what good was eight boxes?  I could fill them up in no time, and then what would I do with my momentum?  Plus, I have realized that boxes will take a lot of room, and we need to empty the basement first. 

So, I decided not to pack until the large order of boxes arrives.  Instead I spent about two or three hours rolling the coins I put into a big jar a couple of weeks ago.  Got about $150 worth.  Meanwhile, Mr. NYer is cutting down the record collection by digitizing albums, which has to be done in real time.  Yup, we’re on top of things.  At this rate, we’ll be ready to move by March.  In 2012.

Contemplating Packing

The last time we moved, in April 1983, we rented a U-Haul, enlisted about a half-dozen friends, and carried  all of our belongings from our apartment to our new house in the course of the morning on the day after we closed on the house.  That  afternoon, the couple moving into our apartment used the same U-Haul (and a few of the same friends, I think) to move their stuff.  We split the $70 rental fee. 

We had a lot less stuff then.  One kitchen table and four chairs.  A couch, a coffee table and one stuffed chair.  A wooden rocking chair, a dresser, a hope chest, a very small folding dining room table and four folding chairs.  We owned a double mattress and box spring, but no bed.  We had two end tables from an unfinished furniture store, and a trunk.  Oh, and we had bookshelves, books, and records.

I had carefully labeled each box with its contents and the room to which it was to be delivered.  My friend Kate  climbed the steps to the front door, carton in hand, and turned at the top to announce, dramatically and with feeling, that there were twenty-three steps. She added that the box, labeled “attic,” was going no farther than the living room.  Everyone else  followed Kate’s lead and at the end of  the day we  faced a wall of boxes deposited right inside the front door.

Today, we no longer sleep on the floor, having adopted the bourgeois habit of sleeping on a bed.  We’ve also acquired a houseful of sofas, tables, chairs, bureaus, desks, rugs and other furnishings along with a lot of art in frames.  Not to mention that the books and records multiplied.  Finally,  we own a bunch of things that just didn’t exist last time around: CDs, DVDs, computers and gourmet cookware.

Movers will carry the stuff, but there’s still the problem of packing the boxes so that we can locate what we need. Even with the careful labelling the first time around, we found it impossible to find what we wanted when we wanted it.  Several items went missing for years before they appeared.  This time, I announced to Mr. NYer, we would have a system.  The system I had in mind would employ a simple  numbering scheme, perhaps based on the date the box was packed, with a second number indicating its position in the series that day.    Thus, 1/1/10-12 would be the 12th box packed on New Year’s Day.  As we packed, I added, we would fill in a spreadsheet on a laptop, indicating the destination room, the kinds of articles, and whatever other data we thought useful.  “Sounds like a good idea,” Mr. NYer agreed.

Did I mention that one of the things I love about new projects is the opportunity to buy supplies?  I loved the beginning of school because it meant a trip to the stationery store, and I love home improvement projects because of the trip to the hardware store.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as the promise contained in the color-coordinated office supplies I assemble  at the beginning off a new task.  I was immensely pleased, then, when I went online and discovered  a vast array of sites offering exactly what I needed to accomplish an orderly move: bubble wrap, frame boxes, clean newsprint, tape dispensers, plastic shrink wrap, and something called “professional mover’s boxes.”  Should I buy the “moving kit” for only $350? 

Before I had a chance to order supplies, or start packing, or even think about how I should structure the spreadsheet, I went down to the basement looking for recycling bags.  I spotted the box, only to find that it contained not bags, but objects wrapped in newspaper.  Inky, dirty newspaper.  Heavy objects in a flimsy little box whose  cardboard was a bit thinner than the cardboard used for a cereal box.  The marker-less box held no clue to the contents.  I asked Mr. NYer.  “Oh,” he  said, “I wrapped up the glass candleholders from the living room.” 

“But how will you know what’s in the box?”  I asked.  

“I’ll remember,” he replied.

Yikes. 

 I’ll  make a note to mark this box later.  It will be the first item on the spreadsheet.  Me, I have no faith in memory at all, neither his nor mine.  Yesterday Mr. NYer asked me where I put the cookbooks I’d taken down from the kitchen counter. 

I had no idea.