A Moving Experience
Moving house is one of the most stressful things that you’ll ever do. In fact they say it’s up there on the list with divorce, losing a job, and the loss of the family cat. I’m not sure how far up there I would put it but surely the stress must be relative to the reason for which you are moving in the first place. Compulsively moving house to climb the social ladder, or in order to exploit an investment opportunity, has to be different from having to move because your husband moved his newfound girlfriend into your bedroom.
As you might have guessed I’ve recently moved house again. The first time I ever moved was after seventeen years of living in a two bedroom flat with my parents, a younger brother, a canary and very no(i)sy neighbours. It was my parents’ first abode together and they only moved out of there when rubbing elbows lost its charm when we started seeing the bones. As much as I hated leaving the cul-de-sac that had come to be my own personal back yard, we moved to a more spacious and comfortable place which featured the luxury of my own room and outdoor space for a proper pet with four legs that lived out of a cage. The only problem was that I was seventeen – just a year short from getting my driving license – and in the area we moved to there was, and still is, no public transport route. So I spent a year selling my soul to any maniac with a car, motorbike or anything remotely motorized that would save me the daily risk of walking up the long, deserted, unlit, country road that led to home!
Eight years later I moved out of my parents’ house and into my first independent abode. Despite not having any furniture or anything that even resembled a mattress, I still slept in my new place on the very same night that I was handed over the key. The thing is I had set myself a self-inflicted deadline that I just had to meet or bust. Growing up I had promised myself that I will not become one of those women who ‘naturally’ and indisputably move from being dependent on their parents to being dependant on their spouse. In other words, I had promised myself not to wait until I got married before I left home. I vowed that by the age of twenty five I would be living the ‘Merlose’ dream. If you were born before the late 70s you’ll know what I’m on about, if not tough luck… but at least you must be young! Of course in my hearts of hearts I also knew that had I to wait until I got married to move out of my folks’ place would have meant that I’d be carried out of there in a wooden box; so to play safe I moved into Melrose Place aka St. Venera Court, just two days before my 26th Birthday!!!
Then, four years, four varicose veins, and four cats later, Melrose Place started to feel a bit old. Soon I came up with of a host of different reasons to move again. The motives ranged from making a further financial investment, to needing a terrace for my hairy pets, to having more space for the kid that I didn’t have, and owning the furniture that I’ve always wanted but will never clean. I put all these reasons in one concocted mental equation and two years later I was packing to move.
I don’t tend to panic unnecessarily or very easily, but this time, the ins and outs of moving house did get to me. It wasn’t much about the emotional uprooting and abandoning of my first abode; and it wasn’t about the confused bankers who act like you are the first one to be asking them for a home loan; neither was it about the nitpicking notaries whose voice you learn to warp like an unborn child trapped in his mother’s abdomen; what really got to me was that this time it was not going to be one direct move from my old place to the new one. Due to a few legal shortfalls my belongings are currently in storage for a few months until my new place is liveable enough to move into. The planning and patience that it takes to pack for this sort of move are unnerving. What do I need to survive for the next few months? and what can I live without? And, if I can live without them for so long why do I need them at all? To add insult to injury I was doing this during that vague and indecisive period when the weather doesn’t know if it’s reaching for the sun or heading for thunder, resulting in three weeks of boiling and freezing my tits off at alternate intervals.
When I first moved out of my parents’ home, I had to pack the contents of one single room and unpack them into six rooms. This time I had the equivalent of twenty rooms crammed into six rooms that were going to be moved and unpacked into seven uncluttered, clear-surfaced rooms. Did I say clear surfaced? With this in mind I decided to combine the obligatory packing with a much overdue de-cluttering exercise. I had visions of moving into my post-modern, clutter-free, retro-accessorized home, where everything has its own specific place, free and unencumbered from any of the useless hairy stuff that I had gathered over the years. Did I say uncluttered? So I called upon my most clutter-free friend, gathered enough boxes to build a monumental bridge, enough duct tape to hold four buses together, and set myself a target. I had twenty days to do this and my target was to throw away more than my body weight in useless unwanted stuff everyday. That meant a total of 1060kg of old clothes, kitchen ware, soft furnishings and anything I had not used in recent history. Being a hoarder by nature, detaching from some of my old stuff was psychologically depleting, and as much as I tried, by the end of it I was about 30kg short of reaching my target. So short of cutting off three limbs, I gave away my cats to make up for the difference! I convinced myself that I’m not all that heartless because with all the stuff that I gave away I must have fed, clothed, and sheltered a small tribe in Africa.
But it was not just the packing that got to me. I also had a never ending to-do list that haunted my sleep.
I had to call up a private investigator to trace down the owner of my ground rent. The guy had disappeared from the face of the earth and wonder of wonders never bothered to collect his Lm7. But without his receipt I could not legally vacate the premises.
I had to settle the water and electricity bill. Simple enough you’d think – except that you cannot pay your last bill on line. Just when you’re at your wits end and duct-taped to the fridge, you have to drop everything and go pay the queue infested old fashioned way.
Then I had to settle and disconnect my TV, land line, and internet subscriptions. Once again I thought I could do this online, after all I had paid in this way 72 times before – but of course now they want to meet you face to face and interrogate you on why you’re cancelling your subscription. After my little visit to each of these service providers, you can now tick the box that says ‘I am disconnecting because I am currently living out of 50 carton boxes in my garage with no definite date for when my status will change’.
And finally try to convince four cats to get into their much hated vet boxes when they have 50 carton boxes to hind in or behind of.
Now that all my stuff is in storage waiting patiently until my new house transforms itself into my dream home, I feel in control once again. Believe it or not I know where everything is. My cutlery for instance is in the chest labeled “pots and pans” and the pots and pans are under “table ware” or “kitchenware” and where are my spare sun glasses? In any one of 20 packing cases labeled “miscellaneous” of course!!
First published on Manic Magazine December 2007