Tag Archives: packing

If Walls Could Talk

In recent days, I have become a professional at packing, taping, and stacking boxes. I had been feeling really smug about my packing efficiency quotient (PEQ), but then I started packing up the kitchen. Dishes are a real pain, you guys. All the wrapping. And pots are no picnic either, mostly because of the handles. They’re so pointy and poke-y and unbendable.

It’s been hard, too, to pack with the kids around, so most of the packing has been taking place at night. Except when Benjamin got out a suitcase one busy morning last week and started stuffing his clothes into it.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Packing up my clothes so we can move to the new house, Mama!”

“Good job! Except we don’t need to pack up your clothes yet, because we’re not going for another week or so.”

“But I’m so excited to live there!”

“Me too, sweetie!”

“But…Mama? I think our old house is going to really miss us.”

“So you think that the house has feelings like we do, and it will feel sad when we’re not here anymore?”

“Yeah. I think it’s going to feel really, really sad.”

I know what he means. I was going to explain to him that houses aren’t living things with feelings, but I didn’t. Because when I was a little girl, I felt exactly the same way. I remember riding in the back of my parents’ car as they drove it to the dealership to trade it in, lying on the seat, tightly hugging the upholstery (this was, of course, before seat belt laws). As though I was bidding farewell to a dear loved one, tears streamed down my cheeks as I whispered, “We loved you, car. Thank you, car. I’ll miss you, car. You were a good, good car.”

Such a little drama queen! Now we know where Ellie gets it.

Anyway, I told him that story, and I added that even though I was sad to leave our old car, we got a nice new car that was great, and that the old car ended up taking care of another family. I said that our house was going to take care of some new people, too.

“So the house won’t be lonely,” I said, “because there will be new people here to keep it company. Does that make you feel better?”

“No, it doesn’t. Because it will still miss us.”

Again, I couldn’t argue, even though I’m a “grown-up” now and should “know better.” Sure, I could’ve explained that he was simply projecting his own feelings on the house as a convenient way to avoid difficult emotions, blah blah blah. But he’s five, and also, I’m not entirely convinced myself that the house won’t miss us.

So I said that we could do things like drive by the house and wave, and open the window and yell, “I miss you, house!” I said we could talk about the house any time, and that he could have some pictures of the house in his new room.

“Really? That would be great!” he said. “Then I won’t forget how it was here.”

I won’t forget how it was here, either. I won’t forget moving in with The Daddy, youthful and childless, thrilled to start a new life with a garage AND space for a guest room and home office. The elaborate Christmas Eve dinners I tried to cook in my miniscule kitchen to impress my new in-laws.  Laughing on the big back deck with my girlfriends. Renovating the bedroom 7 months pregnant. Kissing my newborns’ cheeks in the big chair in the family room. Avoiding the squeaky floorboard in the nursery in the middle of the night. The way I felt instantly comforted, walking through the door after a long day.

What Benjamin will eventually understand is that those feelings and memories have almost nothing to do with the house. Someday, maybe very soon, he’ll understand that home is wherever we all are – wherever we’re laughing, singing, playing, squabbling, cooking, sleeping, dreaming.

Regardless: We loved you, house. Thank you, house. We’ll miss you, house. You were a good, good house.

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Move It or Lose It. I Pick Lose It.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I should’ve been thinking about our nation’s fallen soldiers and their indescribably generous, selfless sacrifice. And I did think about them – don’t get me wrong – but not as much as I should’ve. Hopefully someone else thought about them more than they expected to, so much so that their over thinking balanced out my under thinking, and the appropriate gratitude level was eventually achieved and maintained. Because what I was thinking was HOLY SWEET CRACKER SANDWICH, WE’RE MOVING IN SIX WEEKS!!!!

Way back in the olden days of college apartment living, six weeks would’ve seemed like a long time to prepare for a move. For example, I might’ve delayed panicking until maybe six days (hours?) before moving. I’d be sitting on the couch, maybe eating a cracker sandwich, and it would suddenly hit me that I had some packing to do. “Hey – I’d better get some boxes from somewhere,” I’d think, “and maybe find a friend with a truck or something.” I’d sit there some more, pondering the situation, and then decide not to think about it until “later” because the evil thoughts were making my stomach hurt. Inevitably, it would all come together at the last minute and my stuff would get from point A to point B (where point = tiny apartment) and everything would be fine. Ah, the magical days of yore.

THIS time, I’ve got the stuff that accumulates during 14 years of marriage (we got married the month I finished grad school). That’s 14 years of saying things like, “Lookatthis! We could really use a cool cappuccino maker/this totally boss reciprocating saw/a fascinating instructional coffee table book about origami/this awesome treadmill!”

And boy howdy – kids really add to the Useless Crap Accumulation Factor (UCAF). Which is probably the biggest reason I need to follow through with the garage sale.

To compare, here’s an approximation of what I moved from my adorable, tiny one-bedroom apartment:

1. Two surly cats (one of these creatures still lives with me, despite being 498 in human years)
2. Clothes, easily contained in 2 large garbage bags
3. Several mismatched plates, a cereal bowl, 3 coffee mugs, and a few pieces of flatware
4. A pot, and also a pan
5. A coffeemaker
5. A twin bed
6. 2,000 pounds of textbooks
7. A vacuum
8. A large computer desk (and a computer, which had only been recently acquired after I finally abandoned my electric typewriter)
9. A love seat and a papasan chair, which was dangerously prone to tipping over
10. 2 lamps
11. A color TV that was reluctant to display colors
12. A coffee table that I found on the side of the road
13. Cleaning supplies
14. 6-ish bottles of shampoo, give or take (a gal needs options)

Even packing up the contents of my current pantry cupboard and refrigerator (not to mention the separate freezer in the basement) is enough to make my brain go on a terror-induced shutdown. I would give anything to only have to deal with the contents of my grad school refrigerator:

1. A half-eaten container of sesame noodle salad
2. One quart of milk, used only as a cereal accompaniment
3. A nearly empty bottle of Boone’s Farm Country Kwencher
4. A small container of tabbouli
5. Hot sauce

Anyway, if you could send any encouraging energy my way in the upcoming weeks, the kind of energy that promotes organized packing skills and the ability to sell and/or throw out one’s useless worldly possessions, I’d really appreciate it. And if you happen to be kind of person who likes doing that kind of thing, COME ON OVER. I’d even repay your generosity with fascinating coffee table books and hardly-ever-used small kitchen appliances.

COST OF MOVING: ELEVENTY BILLION ORIGAMI ELEPHANT DOLLARS

Image via Wikipedia