Originally posted Sept. 24, 2010, for KVOE.com “What’s On My Plate.”

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When I go on vacation, I typically don’t go very far or have a ton of fun things planned. Usually it’s the “staycation” to handle the honey-dos – whether it’s help with the day care or the projects I’ve neglected because of my schedule.

On this past vacation, I moved.

Let me reiterate something you probably know all too well:

Moving SUCKS. There is absolutely no way to sugarcoat it.

It doesn’t matter if you have planned the move for months or years, moving on a whim or scrambling to find a place. It doesn’t matter how much you have accumulated or how little you’re packing. Moving just is no fun.

With our latest move complete, I paused briefly to look back at all the moves I’ve gone through in my life. Before I attended college (for the first time), I moved twice – once to Maryland and back while my dad was in the Army. Since my senior year of high school, I have now moved 15 times for various reasons. Twice in Tucson, six times in Omaha, three times in Lincoln, now four times in Emporia.

That’s an average of one move every 18 months. Wow. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad.

Like it or not, that makes me a moving “professional,” although I’ve never approached a move in anything resembling a scientific manner until the last two (totally because of my wife). Anyways, there are some things I’ve noticed with this move and others that have struck me for various reasons, good, bad, indifferent or otherwise:

  • It really helps to label all your boxes. When I made my first intra-Emporia move, I basically threw everything I had, willy-nilly, into my boxes. Ginny helped me pack everything at the tail end and started to help me with the organization side of moving, but the damage was done. It was well after we got married – over a year later – before we found everything from that disastrous Sylvan Street experience.
  • You can never overestimate how much time you need to get everything packed and shipped. Again, I reference Sylvan Street. I told Ginny I had “just a few things” left when we went to my apartment the night before an Emporia State football game. Seven hours, a half-full bedroom, dirty bathroom and bulging refrigerator later, and I think a few minutes after the deadline for moving, we finally had everything boxed. It took us another hour to get everything over to the new place. I officially came down with mono the next night. Maybe that served me right.
  • You will always need more boxes. Whatever you think will be an acceptable number when you start, multiply that by 10 and you may be in the ballpark. And those boxes will stay with you a lot longer than you originally planned. If you’re not careful, you get the dreaded volcano of recyclable material called Mt. Cardboard.
  • People must be getting more stupid. On this latest move, we had to buy a lamp set. The different light parts were labeled – including, in all capital letters, “THIS IS THE SHADE OF THE LAMP.” Honestly, is that really necessary?
  • Fish and felines can lose control of their bodily functions a lot during a move.
  • Your yard sale pile can grow by leaps and bounds in less than a week. By the same token, you may end up getting new things to replace your new yard sale items – so you could possibly come out of a move with more stuff than you did when you started the process. So that’s how it happens…
  • You can have two overflowing Polycarts in the space of 48 hours. If you’re really good, you can jam up two Polycarts in under an hour. I’ve never had the opportunity to fill three, so I don’t know how long that could take.
  • Your obligatory trip(s) to the dump can be the best part of the entire move. Besides getting rid of unwanted stuff, destroying or eliminating items can be your best tension reliever in months.
  • At some point, you graduate from a pickup to a moving truck. For us, this was that point.
  • Something will always break in transit. It doesn’t matter how well you pack everything. Also, something will always break or not work properly once you have fully moved.
  • You are guaranteed at least one temper flare-up during the process. Usually this comes either early in your moving preparation or very late on Moving Day itself. If you can limit that to one short flare, you’re OK. If not…
  • Moving takes adrenaline, and adrenaline can last a lot longer than you think. Adrenaline is a great substance, and it can keep you going for a few minutes or even a few weeks if needed. When it leaves, however, it hits you upside the head like Arnold Schwarzenegger spinning around at a hammer throw.
  • Best move: This one, even though we now have so much stuff. Well-prepared, well-executed, on time…smooth. Or as smooth as a move can be.
  • Worst move: Sylvan Street. I had more than enough time to get everything prepared, but I procrastinated. Having your girlfriend help – and be your only help – says volumes about lack of preparation.
  • Nobody has said anything good about moving. At least not to me.

If you’re lucky, though, you can come out of a move with a few positives – besides the removed clutter and (hopefully) lighter load for the next move. If everything works out, you become stronger as a family and you find a place that helps you grow into the next stage of your life.

If you’re not, boxes and vases won’t be the only thing you break.

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