Eleven months ago, as I was finishing up my teaching job at Marsing Middle School, Thad and I were in the midst of a career change that started with a cross-country move. Thank goodness those last days were teacher work days and that I had a personal leave day or two left! I had students load all of my books, files, posters, sweaters, and knick-knacks into a friend’s mother’s car, as mine had already been sold, so that I could bail as soon as possible, getting home to where another set of books, files, pictures and knick-knacks were being stored away as well. (As a side note, it is amazing how a classroom can become a second home. I had as much stuff in room 4 of MMS as I did in my first dorm room at college!)
Moving companies are an integral part of the State Department. They come, look at your stuff, estimate the boxing needs and return a few weeks later and unload your house in mere hours. The actual packing day reminds me of a plague of locust, coming through and devouring everything in its path. The movers come in, move from room to room, leaving emptiness behind. Emptiness is the key word there. If something is in the room, it is going in the box. That means the stuff you don’t want in boxes needs to be hidden away, or you may not see it again for months. Make sure the trash is taken out of the house, or it may end up in a box. Make sure the flip-flops you wear around the yard are not left lounging by the front door or they will be carted away in a crate with rugs and frames. And heaven forbid you forget and leave a load of dirty laundry in the basket on the morning of moving day. Months and months later, you are likely to end up with a lovely, gym-sock smelling surprise that is probably best to go straight from packing box to trash bin!
Over all though, the process is really rather amazing! It is all especially astounding to those of us who are used to moving with the help of anyone who can be bribed with pizza and Pepsi! (I’m looking at you, friends and family! I’ve been on both ends of that deal more times than I can count, and as little fun as moving is, we all tend to show up when the offer is cheesy pepperoni and cold cola.)
Today, we started that moving process again. This morning, I had scheduled a pack-out survey for 10AM. I also had an appointment with the Salvation Army to pick up a donation of clothes that were not going to China with us. So, I rolled out of bed and got dressed much earlier than I have in the last few weeks, waiting for either one of them to arrive. By 10:45, I was baffled to have not heard from the moving company. I knew the Salvation Army would be anytime between 7AM-noon, but I thought the moving appointment was 10AM sharp. As it turns out, after eleven months in Arlington, Thad still doesn’t know our address and sent the poor man to some other random, non-existent address, so he was a tad late. (I got the text from Thad warning me of this predicament as the surveyor was leaving the house, too late to be properly alerted!) The company representative was a bit grumpy when he first walked in the door, but I turned on the charm and soon he was joking with me and telling me horror stories of some crazy moves he had helped with over the years.
I do have to say, it is a bit disconcerting to have someone walk into your house, wander through the rooms, opening closets and cupboards and nightstand drawers, making a mental calculation of how much your worldly possessions weigh. He had questions about whether our TV is an LED (I have no idea!), what percentage of my clothing I was going to take on the plane with me (as much as possible!), how many pairs of shoes were going to be shipped (uhhh, every last one of them!) and how much more food we were going to buy for the consumables shipment (none, although I am questioning the amount of cereal we have…is it enough?)
The sad part of this is, he walk-though lasted less than half an hour. Actually, thirty minutes is being super generous. I would guess it lasted less than fifteen minutes. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to estimating. He would be a rock star in elementary math class!! (Remember those pictures where they would show you a stack of, say, ten coins and then a huge stack of coins and you had to estimate how many where in the huge stack? I was always terrible at those problems! I still can’t take a decent guess at how tall something is, how far away a landmark is or even how many cookies it is going to take to fill me up. I always tend to guess too tall, too far and too many!)
So now, all of my stuff has been checked off on a spreadsheet, my pack-out day has been set and it is just a matter of organizing and reorganizing the piles before that fateful day arrives. Until then, it is off to Idaho for two weeks to make the rounds, visit school and friends and family and the neighbor’s stacking goats one last time before the move to the Middle Kingdom!