The Big Move Part II: Betrayal

Have you, Dear Reader, ever felt betrayed by an inanimate object?

I often attribute human characteristics to objects. I mentioned how Mari Kondo does this in Letting Go, and I said it’s probably a little nuts to other people, but on some level I think most of us do this. I apologize to or become infuriated with things when I bump into them, dependent on my mood, and that’s probably not that rare. But when an object broke on me while we were moving, I felt betrayal in the very core of my being.

On day two, the “extra” day that I had so optimistically considered a gift from The Universe, things were going well enough. It was Valentine’s Day, I had expected to be driving all day and instead I was boxing things up, but I still felt ahead of the game. My cheeriness only increased with every snag or problem. It would be fine, I insisted, everything was fiiiiine. Getting upset would serve no purpose, so I plastered on some faux confidence, and pushed through.

We were nearing the end of loading, and the sun was setting. We tried to clean out rooms as we went, and I was actually starting to feel genuinely good. I’d faked it til I made it, you could say. As I cleaned our master bathroom after everything had been moved out, I found the sink stopper underneath the counter. I set it on the counter, finished scrubbing down the mirrors, the sink, the faucet, and with a giant smile, popped the stopper into the sink, the pièce de résistance on my beautiful bathroom. The stopper slid all the way down into the hole, sealing it, so I shrugged and pushed on the back of the faucet to pop it back up. Dear Reader, it did not come up.

Then it hit me: the reason we were storing it under the sink to begin with: the stopper mechanism in the pipe was broken. I tried frantically to remove it. It would come out, of course, if I could slide my nails under it. Or perhaps with a pair of tweezers? Or a screwdriver? But in all my prying and pulling and profanity, I’d only managed to lodge it deeper into the drain, rendering the sink in the house I was about to drive away from and hope someone would soon buy so we didn’t have to have carry a mortgage and rent at the same time, absolutely useless. In a last ditch effort to get the stopper out, I slammed the screwdriver into its side, and popped the domed top off the actual stopper, leaving the rest of it just below the sink’s edge, proving that I could, in fact, actually make a hopeless situation even worse.

And so, Dear Reader, I proceeded to have a mental breakdown. Every ounce of frustration and rage I had compressed into my bowels and tried to band-aid over with fraudulent joviality came erupting out of me like a swarm of Africanized honey bees. I threw down the screwdriver, somehow not chipping the tile or shattering the porcelain, and screamed at the sink, “HOW FUCKING DARE YOU?!”

The insinuation/question was completely organic; it was exactly what needed to be said. I felt, in that moment, that somehow the sink, the stopper, the entire goddamned house, had conspired against me so that I would not be able to leave it–and that’s completely insane–but it’s where my brain went.

From there, it was a snowball of epic proportions. We skipped having any kind of dinner, and continued to pack and clean while going back and forth on how to resolve the Sink Horror 2018. We made a trip to Home Depot for some possible tools which I quickly learned upon return to the house that they didn’t and couldn’t work and now I just had MORE SHIT to pack. I stifled tears even as I scrubbed the kitchen into gloriousness. I could tell it looked good, beautiful in fact, but I felt defeated.

The rock inside the snowball manifested when I was emptying out the last remnants of the garage and found a box of paperwork that I had been meaning to shred. I’d had this box for literal years, carried over in our last move from one house to another, I’d seen the fucking thing every damn day while maneuvering around it to get in the car for work. I’d said to myself every time I saw it that I should just load it up and take it to Staples, a literal half mile from my work, and have it shredded, but did I do it? No. Instead I pretended it was an inevitable but minor obstacle to always be in my life, and now there it was being exactly that, and there I was, paying the penance for my past laziness kneeling on the unswept garage floor. I tried to reorganize the papers because the box had been moved and gotten wet at some point, so it was falling apart, and as I repacked this box of paperwork from decades earlier (literally, it had documents from the 90s in it) I devolved into full on weeping. Another goddamned thing had to go into the truck that everything else barely fit into already, and I had to pack it, tape it, and we had to take it with us, I cried, and I couldn’t fucking believe it.

But, Dear Reader, all was not lost, because I have Husband. The yang to my yin, the cheese to my macaroni, the sane to my cray-cray. He got a neighbor to fix the sink, expertly navigated cleaning and boxing what I skipped, and when he found me crying in the garage, he made everything better.

We ended the night by eating the remnants of a few different meals in bed (the bed was to be packed last the following morning) and passing out. I fell asleep without the optimism of the prior night, but without dread either, just a yearning for everything to be over. It almost was.

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The Big Move Part I: Optimism

If there is only one universal truth to life, it is surely this: You are never really prepared to move.

You can have a plan laid out, you can do as much ahead of time as possible, you can watch all the tips and tricks videos that exist, but you will never truly be prepared for the physical, mental, and emotional shitfest you are about to embark upon when you decide to uproot your entire life and trek it across the country.

That isn’t to say it’s all bad, but let’s be honest: you are not here for the warm fuzzies.

So Husband got an awesome new job in a new city in a new state. We’d lived in and around Tampa, Florida for almost seven years, the majority of our relationship, but in four different homes: two apartments and two houses. Including our time in Ohio, we’ve moved together a total of five times with increasingly more things. We accumulated plenty of stuff, and I did my best to purge it (see: Letting Go), but it’s never enough. You know those weirdos who can fit their whole lives into a single duffel bag? They have life figured out. The couple weeks leading up to the move, we threw away and boxed up so much shit. We made four trips to Goodwill with our Jeep Renegade FULL of things to donate, we filled our giant trash bins to the brim at least four times, and I pawned off and recycled what I could, so when I looked through the house the night before we got the moving truck, I was incredibly self assured. I mean, I was fucking pumped. No part of me dreaded the upcoming process, I was all smiles and checklists and positive affirmations.

And then we started.

The plan was to pick up the truck Tuesday morning (I had worked on Monday, mind you, my last day, and had been slowly packing the week prior), and we would take a load of large items to the dump, return home, load the truck, clean the house, sleep for a few hours, then get up at about 4:00am on Wednesday and go. That didn’t happen.

I did my best to stay peppy and upbeat, and even if everything had gone perfectly, the physical act of moving is exhausting. We did get the truck on Tuesday morning, and we did take large items, including our couch, love seat, and recliner, to the dump (I tried very hard to give these things away, but no one wants baby-barf brown, cat-shredded furniture nowadays: beggars really can be choosers, Val). On the way back from the landfill where, I have to say, I had a great time throwing a metal filing cabinet on top of a mirror and absolutely shattering it, I looked at the clock and chirped that we were making great time, it was almost noon, and we could go grab some of Husband’s favorite Thai place for lunch. Little did I know, he had already turned pessimistic (see: realistic), questioning if we had time to stop for lunch or even if we’d get done that day. Of course! I declared through a pearly white smile, we’d be done in no time! All we had to do was fill up the truck and sweep up the floors. THAT’S IT.

That was incorrect. As we Tetris’d our belongings into the moving truck, it became apparent there was much more to do. I uncovered what felt like whole rooms of things that still needed to be boxed up, including almost all of our breakables. I held off on buying packing supplies specifically for dishes and stemware for gods know what reason, and I ended up stuck using napkins and extra blankets to buoy the most fragile things we owned. (Spoiler alert: NOTHING FRAGILE ENDED UP BREAKING SO YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF, UHAUL, WITH YOUR $20 DISH KIT!)

When evening came I was beginning to crack ever so slightly. I could feel a hot rage boiling beneath the surface, pricking at my skin, begging to be released, the sight of cardboard boxes and tufts of cat hair long hidden under furniture inciting a primordial ire in want of release. But Husband quelled it without even knowing it: “I have a proposition,” he said.

We just don’t move and stay here, jobless and miserable until we die and the cats devour our corpses sans remorse? I asked, but only in my head.

“Why don’t we just leave on Thursday instead?”

“I love you.”

It was the perfect Valentine’s Day present, and it didn’t even feel like defeat, just like an admission that our goals were too lofty. And too-lofty goals aren’t the worst thing. It felt much like being ahead of the game, like “O, wow, I have just been handed an extra day to do with whatever I want!” And I went to bed that night very happy, lulling myself into another false sense of security. I did not learn, Dear Reader, and that was my first mistake.