I’d Rather Move Bodies

Have you moved recently?

Good, then you’re going to feel me on this one. Settle in.

I’m a freakin’ James Bond when it comes to moving. I’ve moved from one residence to another (both across-the-street and across-the-country) nearly twenty times. I’m good at packing. I’m ruthless when it comes to keeping stuff or dumping it. I’m organized enough to know what I have to do when, experienced enough to anticipate what I’m going to break or what’s going to be broken (who needs an air conditioner in June in Alabama?) and  cynical enough to understand that this isn’t going to be cheap no matter what (I break leases like I break hearts).

And the funny thing is, this has been an incredibly smooth move-in. Nothing horrific has happened. Sure, there’s been minor drama, but nothing that isn’t par for the course when you’re moving 32 boxes, furniture, and clothes up two flights of stairs into a place previously inhabited by four (four!) galloping pitbulls and their owners (my downstairs neighbors just LOVE me and my two cats, let me tell you).  But moving to a new state takes time, money, and stress management skills that unless you’ve done it, you simply don’t understand. For example:

1. You must expect to get ripped off.

Generally, people aren’t even doing it out of malicious intent. They just have 7,342,394,300 fees to charge you because it’s what they’ve always done. Applying to live here?  $50. Running a credit check to live here?  $50.  Have pets?  $200 (and that was a deal! With two cats, I should be paying $400 but the manager was super-sweet and let me do it for $200). Need internet?  That’ll be the monthly fee plus installation plus parts plus labor.  And don’t get me started on Huntsville Utilities charging me $300 just to sign up for an account. I’ll see half that money again in 2 years. I’m not holding my breath.

2. You don’t need all that stuff.

When I was leaving Florida to move back here to Alabama, I had a pretty clear policy: if you want my furniture, you can have it for free.  The caveat to this policy was that I was not going to help you move it. Disassembling and getting the furniture down the three flights of stairs was entirely on the person who wanted the free furniture. You’d be surprised how many people went “oh yes, I want your Mistress of Pain dungeon set!” (hypothetical) only to back out once they realized that they were responsible for lugging it downstairs themselves while I drank gin and tonics on the couch. I gave away a TON of furniture. Most of my furniture, actually. I had a few kind people who asked me “are you sure you want to give this away?” and I said “YES, PLEASE, JUST GET RID OF IT SO I DON’T HAVE TO RENT A BIGGER U-HAUL” and they were worrying about my sentimentality getting the best of me. I assure you, once you start moving, you will realize what you want to keep and what you want to give away because you have to pack that shit in a box and then lug that box across the galaxy. You don’t realize the value of belongings until you’re forced to actively deal with them. I lost so much stuff I feel like a lighter person.  It’s fantastic.

3. Moving is never quick.

I’ve been in my apartment since May 15th. Here are the things that I still don’t have: a bed, cable, internet, towels, a bathroom trashcan, dishcloths, a bedside table, a desk. And all my art is on the floor, unhung. I’ve been working my ass off to get my apartment “done”, and I’m just beginning to remember that when moving into a new place, YOU ARE NEVER DONE. NOT FOR A YEAR.  You have to order stuff. It takes two weeks for them to ship it. You can’t just get cable; they have to come install it. Etc, etc. When I hear about my friends who have plans to move into a new house over a weekend I have myself a nice long laugh, because their definition of “moving” must include “using our boxes as a coffee table for the next six months because Jesus fucking Christ this shit is never through”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I hate smug movers who assure you that their moving experience was done in a weekend. Yes, there are moving hipsters. No, I don’t get it.

4. Hire someone to help you move, or rely on easily guilt-tripped friends. You can’t do it yourself.

Moving from the rental house to Huntsville, I hired two guys who got all the horrible lifting done in an hour-and-half versus all day of me huffing and puffing.  It cost $200 including tip and it was the best investment I’ve made in the last year. Before that, I begged my friends to help me move with promises of Cracker Barrel and beer. That worked out nicely, too, and it costs almost the same amount (a little cheaper, but it made some fantastic memories).  Thank you, easily-guilt-tripped friends!

In short, moving is torture and I’m stress-eating. Don’t do it unless you love your apartment. I do.  But holy crap this mess THIS MESS.

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Moving In, Moving On

Yesterday I got the keys to my new apartment, and promptly got severely nauseous. While there’s a stomach bug going around, I think it has more to do with the concept of permanency than any genuine illness.  I’ve always had a dislike of putting down ties; there’s no tragic backstory to explain my distaste toward commitment. I just don’t like pending obligations (or yard work).

While an apartment with a year-long lease barely seems to be commitment at all, for me, it’s pretty big. I’ve spent a lot of my life running around with my belongings in a cardboard box, and purchasing Real Furniture literally weighs me down. It’s exciting, sure, but it means that for a while: here I am.

My list of places, unabridged: Continue reading

Things I’d Rather My Parents Not Know: Part 2 of ?

Someone asked me what I was going to do when I finally move out of my parents’ house and into my own apartment. Now that that day is approaching, I’m formulating my plans. All the following will happen on the first Friday I am there:

  • Have Cheetos and wine for dinner.
  • Have cowboy shots of tequila for dessert.
  • Try to do Wii yoga.
  • Acquire mysterious and unexplainable bruises from the drunken Wii yoga.
  • Put on “Drive” and talk to Ryan Gosling’s ass the entire movie.
  • Start to build Lego Hogwarts.  And then stop after one turret. And leave the Legos out without picking up after myself.
  • Decide to learn Japanese. Look up filthy Japanese phrases and text them to random numbers in my cell.
  • Shower until I use up all the hot water because HAHAHAHA I OWE YOU PEOPLE NOTHING.
  • Wander around naked a while.
  • Talk to my cats in stupid voices.
  • Attempt to change my name on Facebook to “Whitney McCatlady”.
  • Get lost on Facebook for 30 minutes.
  • Pass out.
  • Wake up at 2am wondering why the hell Drive is on.

I think it’s good to have ambitions.

Move In Day

We’re moving into the new house today.

It’ll be memories returned and reframed, all right. Boxes and sweat and standing on the outside looking in.

Mom and I both smelled smoke for the first time in months yesterday. We smelled it for ages after the fire – some strange psychological combination of it searing our nostrils and our minds just supplying it in moments of stress – and yesterday, we both smelled it again standing in the doorway of the new house wondering if this one would last.

I’ve been collecting snapshots from July 18 to remember what happened. It seems important, somehow.

  • The initial news report that I reread over and over again at 2am in Florida waiting for my flight home, trying to make sense of what had happened. My mother was irritated at being called “his wife”, since technically she’s a homeowner as well.
  • Video One of the damage.
  • Video Two of the damage.
  • Video Three of the damage.

I watch those videos even now and I barely remember filming them. I’d been going on 50 hours without sleep and my house was a warzone.  Even then there was a need to document every last sensation, to honor it. I suppose the impulse remains even now when I chose to start a blog.

I’m very excited for the new house.  But I want to remember the old one, too. Even when it trembled and fell in front of me.

The Naming of Things: The House, Our House, Home

Well, we’re moving in on Monday, April 22, although we’ve been bringing over the lightweight stuff in waves for the past few nights. The house burned to the ground on July 18, 2012, so it’s been a little over nine months, and the house will be born. Reborn? I don’t know about the “reborn”, because this feels like an entirely new place. It doesn’t feel like ours, not yet. I went into it last night and I realized I was walking like I was over at a neighbor’s home. I didn’t turn on lights – I’m not used to it having electricity; for the last few months when I’ve visited I’ve navigated using the glow of a lantern. I had to ask where things were (“Where do I put the spoons?” “Where do the pillows go?” “I can’t figure out how to unlock this door.”) And when I left my belongings, I tucked them neatly in a corner to wait for me until we get our furniture. You know how much of a warzone my old room used to be in high school? Tornados would be intimidated by the mess. But it didn’t feel like my home to live in.

I’m sure that will change, although I’m not sure when. I’m moving into my own apartment mid-May, so I’ll only have a few weeks in the new house. And see – I’ve got to figure out what to call it. “The new house”. That can’t last forever. At what point does it stop being new? “The rebuilt house”. This phrase is accurate, but it takes a while to say and it trips the tongue. “Home” is ideal – but I’ll have another home in the valley in a few weeks.

Only three more nights and I’ll sleep in– no, I’ll write it. I’ll be home. I’ll be able to shower for longer than 10 minutes. I’ll have my own bathroom that I won’t have to share with three other people. I won’t sleep a few feet from my brother and be woken up every night. I’ll be able to watch television without disturbing the entire world. I’ll (eventually) unpack. I’ll have drawers! I won’t have to carry around my shower stuff like I’m in a college dorm.

It doesn’t seem like it’s finally happening.

On another note – while the house is nearly done, a few unfinished eccentricities remain: we have no mirrors. I have no idea how I’m going to do my makeup in the weeks to come before they’re hung up.