Monday, July 14, 2008

Who's Idea Was This?

It must have been a DottieMae moment. There can't be any other reason to subject us to this. Three months ago we were happily ensconced in our comfortable four-bedroom home on Bainbridge Island. Just a little more than 90 days later we are sitting in the midst of utter chaos in a tiny two-bedroom townhouse apartment with a fan going and the windows shuttered against the 95+ degree Portland heat. To move at all is a bit crazy. To move on one of the hottest weekends of the year is ridiculous.

The whole thing started out innocently enough in April when we wondered about the possibility of moving back home to Portland after our youngest graduated from high school. We began with an investigation of the best timing for a real estate sale never dreaming we would put the whole thing together in such a short amount of time. After all, everyone told us houses aren't selling these days. Maybe our price was too low. Our home sold in six days.

Selling house = moving, ugh!

Realizing that the contents of a four-bedroom house would not fit into a two-bedroom apartment, we decided to divvy up the goods to four different locations. Why is it that some ideas that appear to be quite simple turn out to be so complicated?

When the movers arrived we had to make sure everyone understood where everything was going so it would be placed in the right order on the truck. Stop #1 loads last and stop #4 loads first. Three is second and two is third. What? It was a bit like the comedy routine " who's on first, what's on second."

Before I go any further, I would like to take a minute to thank Adam, our driver. Without him we wouldn't have managed this terrible feat. He kept his good humor through the whole grueling process and sweltering heat. He is a saint and we are forever in his debt.

There isn't time or space to go into the gruesome details of us loading and unloading a 14-foot UHaul ourselves with fragile things and plants including a red maple and fir started from seedlings (we are just thankful the experience didn't end in divorce), but I will share a few highlights about each stop with our 45 foot moving van.

A truck with a 45-foot trailer can't travel on just any street. On Saturday morning we arose a 5 am after yet another fitful night's sleep, to survey the best route between the four locations. Some Streets were too narrow, some had low hanging trees and others were closed for construction. Fortunately the gas company is slow at starting their work so we narrowly avoided having the street torn up for a gas pipe installation project at stop number three.

Stop #1:
The first stop was my ex-husband's house where we unloaded 26 years worth of my children's books, toys, games, school projects, precious mementos and furniture. Some people knowing a 45-foot truck was going to arrive at their doorstep on a certain day would talk to their neighbors in advance to make sure there was space on the very narrow street for the truck to park. Some people would and some people didn't. As a result, the movers carried their load across the street as a steady stream of traffic headed for a nearby yard sale threaded it's way between the truck on one side and a row of cars on the other. The crew was also short handed, but when they realized the fourth worker wasn't going to show, a slide down the basement stars constructed of cardboard mattress boxes made their job a bit easier. We left after an hour and a half, 2000 pounds lighter and 5 degrees warmer.

Stop #2
Next up was Gary's office. Happily the loading zone in front of the building stood empty when we arrived. Unhappily the front doors to the building were locked and no one knew who had the key. After a few unproductive phone calls and a bit of grumbling, Adam noticed a barber shop next door with access to the building lobby. Luckily business was slow and the barber allowed us to transfer our cargo through the shop to the elevator. 1500 pounds delivered, a few degrees warmer and on to the next location.

Stop #3
Stop number three was my childhood home. My 91-year-old father's 93-year-old wife moved to an assisted living center recently and took all her furniture including the bed and dining table. To help out my dad and avoid the need for a storage locker we delivered the contents of our guest room along with a kitchen table and console piano. One mishap took place at this stop when one of the movers crashed his back into a metal star railing while trying to avoid my father's elevator chair on the other wall. Another 1500 pounds off the truck and several more degrees warmer.

Stop #4
There isn't a lot of space in a 980 square foot apartment. The movers kept bringing in more and more as if there was an endless supply of boxes and furniture. The temperature kept going up finally peaking in the 90s. Unloading the last 8,000 pounds was exhausting for everyone.

Today we slept in. We didn't get out of the house to set up Gary's office until at least 7. One problem with moving is that all the important parts of things end up in different boxes. Take Gary's computer for example. We found the keyboard and the screen in our apartment, the mouse in his office, and the cords in a box left in my Dad's garage.

It would make sense to pack a necessity box when moving. TP, paper towels, eating utensils, cleaning supplies and the most important item would be the bottle opener. We have found vice grips to be a suitable substitute. Beer never tasted so good.

We have created an oasis in the middle of the living room. Piles of boxes and an assortment of furniture surround us. One wall of the dining room is stacked three boxes high with what we have started to refer to as the "great wall of china." Gary is passed out on the sofa next to me. I could be unpacking, but I've had it with boxes for today.

This morning the birds were singing, the trees were dappled with morning sunlight, and the squirrels were scampering across the patio. In spite of the fact that we haven't had much sleep, the temperature is in the 90s and every inch of our bodies hurt, we are excited about being back home.


  1. The way you write makes it feel like actually being there -- body aches and all! Glad you made it!

  2. Dearest Dearest ML & Gary: so glad you made it. Maybe the journey was so difficult because some of us were mourning your going, pulling you back, putting obstacles in your way. Or maybe the Tyranny of the Object kicked in. But you were victorious in the end and at least the first thing out the box was that inimitable MLaka Dottie mae sense of humour. Glad to see that didn't go astray in the move.

    all the best