U-Haul, Shmoo-Haul



Moving Day--don't put it on your calendar unless you have to

Most people enjoy moving as much as they enjoy gum surgery, but I find the process liberating. This is not to say I move often or well; generally, when I find a place that will tolerate me as an inhabitant, I stay there until circumstances so dire I can't ignore them force me  out. This happened to me last month, when my cozy, underpriced seaside rental, in which I have spent the four years since I moved back to California, was yanked out from underneath me by those market forces you hear so much about in election years but which actually never get around to affecting you, or me. Until now.

I move in the time-honored American way. I start by filling boxes with related items and cataloging the contents with a Sharpie. "Desk Drawers" I write carefully, or "Legal Documents." Then, when it becomes obvious that packing in such a careful, organized manner will result in me not getting moved until well after my deadline, and possibly well after the sun is a cold, dead cinder in a starless sky, I change up. I start cramming possessions indiscriminately in box after box like an assembly-line worker who's had a cup of espresso and a handful of Ritalins for lunch. 

The first thing that gets packed is the Sharpie. There's no point in writing "Stuff" on every box, and no one wants to be seen carrying boxes marked "Half-Eaten Bag of Cheese Curls + Unmatched Socks." In order to make the move more efficient, I practice a very scientific form of reverse triage. This means I discard items like the extended warranty on my laptop while keeping a year-old quart jar of green juice with six pickle chips left in it. 

Amid the chaos and the crunched china of a move, I usually find a moment of peace. Customarily, this happens when I am waiting for the cable guy at whatever inconvenient hour he has selected as the only possible time he has to hook me up to the rest of the world. I was stuck in my new place with nothing to eat but the dry and canned food I had already moved over there. The reason I had to move this food is that I never felt like eating it, but I was hungry and the cable guy had a generous "window" in which he could appear—I think it was 5 AM to 5 PM. I was forced to make a meal of instant oatmeal, which I had not done since they invented the stuff. I seasoned it with some brown sugar that I had purchased a long time ago, possibly as long ago as when the Rolling Stones had a hit song of that same name. It was no great feast, and not particularly filling. As the day dragged on towards lunch I confronted the rest of my cans like a shipwrecked sailor contemplating the choice between starvation or eating whatever he could scrape off the bottom of his lagoon.

I eventually chose a can of Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup. It's a white sludge with flecks of a chickenlike substance embedded throughout. When glopped into a bowl, it resembles a giant bacterium churning with mitochondria,  or an internal organ you wish you didn't have, or something else you might see in a science museum. I'm just telling you this so you never have to open a can of the stuff for yourself.

I was in the home stretch when I realized I would need a new dresser, since my new closet space was inferior to my old closet space. I picked a used one up at a thrift store, as I had that moving feeling of bleeding money from every pore. When I opened one of the drawers, there was a bag of parts that obviously belonged to a desk chair. 

They didn't belong to my desk chair, though, and they weren't needed for the operation of the dresser. I should have thrown them immediately away, but in the mental fog of unpacking, I threw them into a drawer.

Now I'll have to move the damn things forever.


More by me? www.richardcahill.net

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