When you are trying to pack up a house with 2 kids and a dog during the holidays, time shifts from a peppy 45 to a sticky 33, -8. If you don’t know what that means, just picture listening to molasses on a turntable.
Every time I filled up one box, little hands would empty their contents and marvel at what was inside. Damn it.
Progress quickly became an existential paradox. And then there was the wrapping of gifts and other boxes.
Now I usually relish every moment of Christmas. I’ve been known to cook a turkey simply to have the smell of roast poultry and bread stuffing seep its way into every crevice of my home. This year however, felt rushed and squashed and OH MY GOD SO MANY BOXES.
I was eager to stop playing Tetris with our furniture and our lives and finally unpack and put everything away. Of course that meant I had to get through moving day.
This is where I start talking about how I am so grateful for the friends in my life.
For those of you who think my reference to OCD is a quirky anecdote, you haven’t seen me have a panic attack over how to put something away. Because to a person like me, putting a box of jewellery in with books and bedsheets is not just odd, it’s torture. It does not compute. It takes every last ounce of energy and several pairs of hands to convince me not to unpack and repack into boxes that ‘make more sense’.
In every house move, there are several phases of packing.
There is the phase where you think packing will be no big deal.
There is the phase where you realize you have a lot of crap.
There is the phase where arson looks inviting and you decide you want to don a saffron robe and take a vow of NO MORE STUFF EVER AGAIN.
And lastly, there is the phase of ‘we’re moving tomorrow so grab it and stuff it somewhere’.
That’s the phase that hit me the hardest.
I would freeze in my tracks feeling the prickle of ‘perfection sweat’ breaking through my skin, and my molars would start their anxious rubbing and grating against each other. My skin would start crawling at the mere prospect of putting a tree ornament in with a 2 lb free weight, a sweater, and a pair of slippers. Somehow my friends managed to unfreeze me.
“Ok. You’re just going to grab this, and put it in here. Because it fits! It’s a game. See? And then it’ll be fun to find out where you put things when you unpack!” The dulcet tones of my good friend Lillie walked me through it all.
Whenever I’d get stuck she’d magically appear and keep things going. “It’s not going to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be. It’s all coming with you. You can sort through it there.”
Like a ninja with the patience of a kindergarten teacher, she had an innate sense of when I would come undone. She would take over a box if I was treating it like a Rubik’s Cube, and give me an empty bag to keep playing the ‘fun packing game’. She would ply me with water and snacks, remind me to take a bathroom break, and interject with pleasant ruthlessness whenever I slowed down.
“Pitch it!” or “Yeah keep that!” I’d hear whenever I paused to look at something for more than 15 seconds.
Meanwhile, our good friend Bebop tirelessly hefted, lifted, and loaded —without one complaint to our sometimes snail pace and my wide birth of emotional reactions to finding the pair to a sock I had already thrown out.
I couldn’t have done that day without Lillie and Bebop, and the many loving friends who helped us cross the finish line by actually being there, or by simply asking if we needed help.
If you’re planning a move, the best advice I can give you is to make sure you surround yourself with an A Team —whether that’s 1 person or 5. Because however smoothly you are hoping things will go, you’re going to forget things. Things will go wrong. Trucks will be late. Keys won’t work. Someone will inevitably get locked out of somewhere. There will always be 10 more loads than you think there will be. There will be a problem with the elevator booking. And you may never again find that thing that you packed in the painfully obvious place that you’ve since forgotten.
But so long as you have your friends and family, a sense of humour, the looming promise of hot pizza and cold beer, and the vague idea that everything will be ok even if that’s not right now; it’s amazing how many garbage bags and boxes you can sort through.
5 Kinds Of Help You Need During A Move
Someone to be the ‘pitch/chuck’ voice of reason.
Someone to watch your kids during moving day, and/or packing days.
Someone who reminds you to keep your eye on the prize, and cheers you on.
Someone who can lift and move things.
Someone who you can laugh with during times of stress.
Mantra: Good enough is good enough.