Thursday, May 8, 2014

Not Unmoved: A Tale of Packing

When I was in college, I moved every.  Single.  Year.  It was no mean feat, either - when I first rolled up to college, I did so in a uHaul packed with my possessions.  I overheard whispers of awe as I hauled all of my dorm necessities up the stairs.*  And everything when back down the stairs nine months later and into a storage bin, out of which it came three months later, up a different set of stairs, and so on.  I lived in a different dorm all four years of college.  I thought it was a luxury when I lived in one of those dorms for 12 straight months rather than 9.

Of course, after college, due to a specific confluence of circumstances I ended up moving everything out, back to my childhood home a thousand miles away, and then back to the exact same school again three months later.  If I ever want to plead insanity, I will have plenty of people to testify that I actually did this.  

Twelve months later, I moved again.  

So in five years of my life, I had moved all of my earthly possessions a total of nine times while stubbornly refusing to reduce the quantity of said possessions.  Despite the moving.  Despite unsolicited suggestions as to the appropriate quantity of shoes required for existence as a student.  Despite the trauma to certain groomsmen called upon to move my couch while still recovering from and dressed for our nuptial celebrations.

After that ninth time of moving, I was of the opinion that moving could SHUT UP.

Fortunately, that last time was moving in with Husband after our wedding.  We successfully snookered various members of the bridal party into doing at least the final heavy lifting while we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  (Apparently we have a habit of going to Hawaii during housing transitions.)

And then we didn't move again for a long time - five glorious years of no moving.  But we bought our house!  Which was very exciting!  Until the initial elation faded and we realized what it meant.

We had to move.  Again.  And moving makes your place look like this:

As Husband can attest, I don't even like packing for a short trip.  It's one of my least favorite activities.  I did not greet the task of packing our entire life up with tremendous enthusiasm.  SOME person I MAY OR MAY NOT be married to may have described my demeanor as "sulky."  Perhaps it was: starting to move required confronting three very serious things I had henceforth largely been able to ignore:

1.  The exponential increase in stuff-accumulation that happens the longer you don't move
2.  The mold
3.  The entirely disassembled elderly vehicle in our garage.

Point the First:  Stuff Accumulation

I have modeled below the Liz Functional Theorem of Stuff Accumulation:

Current stuff = ((starting amount of stuff + major gift-receiving life events) * number of closets) ^ (years in residence)

In our case, the theorem proved chillingly accurate.  (OK, I can't really quantify it, but close enough.)  Neither Husband nor I are particularly inclined to throw things away.  We have "reference" files full of papers that include his resume as of his senior year of high school, or a job offer I got for a summer internship halfway through college.  We have a full costume box.  We have a selection of sheets for XL-twin beds that haven't fit any bed since we left behind the crappy dorm ones.  I have enough bottles of half-used hair products that, if dumped into the bathtub, could drown small rodents.  

When you move, you at least confront the more egregious items that need to go.  The shirt that is really affirmatively torn.  The box of cards received on your last birthday.  The pens that are out of ink.

I wasn't used to having stayed in the same place for five whole years AND having had the use of all the closets in the house.  So when we started packing, I started finding some next-level crazy stuff:

  •  A bunch of broken vases.  
  • A plastic box containing:  
  1. an empty box sunglasses had some in; 
  2. a pink feather boa; 
  3. a bunch of save-the-dates for our wedding; 
  4. a fanny pack; 
  5. a worn-out black leather belt.
  • Twelve billion wire hangers
When did I decide that was an important selection of items to store together in the guest room closet?  

The most notable find was my dried-out wedding bouquet:

Which led to this inconclusive** text message exchange with Sassy:

Point the Second:  The Mold

We knew our house had mold.  You can't get a house for cheap rent in a VSREM just on good looks.  We also knew from the fact that for a long time, whenever it rained, the roof would leak and one of the walls would actually swell up with water and be kind of squishy if you poked it.  The landlord eventually repaired the roof, but our battle with mold had been ongoing.  We scrubbed the walls with bleach frequently.  We once painted a couple walls with mold-resistant primer stuff.  None of it seemed to do much good -- the house was damp and poorly insulated and it kept coming back.

We just hadn't realized how much. 

When you take the furniture out of rooms, the room looks pretty sad:

But when you take furniture out of rooms and find a ton of mold, that makes YOU look pretty sad.

Husband sprang into action.  He was DONE with mold and did not want to bring a single spore of it to our new home.  So... amazingly... we actually threw a lot of stuff away.  If we felt it was too mold-contaminated, in the trash it went.  All of the furnitures was thoroughly scrubbed and left outside on bright sunny days to kill the mold.  Items that had been in the room with the worst mold were cleaned and then sealed in airtight ziploc bags for a period of no less than two months.  We were zealous.

Friend:  "Your new house smells a lot ... fresher? than your old one?"
Husband:  nods knowingly

The rest of the move was fairly standard, with only the minor glitch when my mom and decided we absolutely needed to remove gross shelf paper from the shelved in the new house before we could put anything in that closet, so that had to happen immediately for obvious reasons:

There was also the issue that Husband really didn't want to move our old TV because it is ridiculously big and heavy.  It has a giant screen but is NOT a giant flat screen - it's an old projection TV and thus weighs twelve million pounds.  Husband, sensibly, wanted to sell the TV on Craigslist before we moved a buy a new one.  I, stubbornly, did not want to admit I had already bought Husband a new TV for his upcoming birthday.  The TV got moved.  

Astute readers will have noticed I never reached Point the Third:  Enormous Disassembled Elderly Automobile.  That's another story for another day, bien sur.  You will stay tuned, non, mes petits cheres?

* In justification of taking a uHaul to college: I was moving from a state without sales tax to a state with ridiculous sales tax!  I had attempted to buy everything I would ever need for the rest of my life before I left.  

** I currently cannot remember if I threw my spooky, Miss Havisham wedding bouquet out or if I hid it in the new garage.  Hmmm.

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