On Moving…

On Moving…

A moving truck ready to be loaded
Moving day

Now that we are almost fully settled in our new apartment in the city, M and I hope that we will not have to move again for many, many years. The last eighteen months or so have seen more than their share of stress and expense, and we really can’t wait to put all that behind us.

Both of us moved around a lot as children, before ending up in Brisbane. M finally settled down in her chosen (southside) suburb to give her son a stable school life, and I bought my (northside) place through a combination of apathy and luck (both good and bad!) As I’ve stated elsewhere, for M it was always only ever a temporary home, but for me, I had no intention of ever moving.

Given that we lived on opposite sides of the river—Brisbane is a city split in twain by its river, and there exists a friendly rivalry between the North and the South—and that we are both introverts, it’s almost a miracle that M and I met at all.

“You ask for a miracle? I give you … OKCupid.”

Probably not Hans Gruber.

We became an item, although it was a bit of a slow burn. I just could not see how our relationship could work—I was firmly settled in my own place, surrounded by my stuff, just down the street from my mother … in the one region of Brisbane where M absolutely refused to live—and I wasn’t even sure I could live with somebody else. I was pretty set in my ways.

So, I held back. I felt that she deserved more than I was able to give. M, though, knew what she wanted.

Along the way we had a crisis or two to deal with together. M‘s father died, and we had to empty out his house. My mother was forced to move from her home to a smaller apartment and we helped her deal with that. No doubt these family crises help bring us closer together.

Finally, I proposed that we move in together. It was time to either commit, or run screaming for the hills.

M and her son were living in a tiny unit that was barely big enough for the two of them, so I could not simply move in with them (and besides, the place reeked of cat pee thanks to the neighbour’s excess of feline companions) and M refused to live in my place, and did not want to pull her son out of his school. He had 18 months to the end of year 12, so I suggested we rent a place together for a couple of years, somewhere large enough for us all to be more comfortable, where he could finish his schooling—and we could determine, once and for all, whether I was capable of living in an actual relationship situation.

First Move

Our first move as a couple required a bit of juggling. We had to move some furniture from my place into the new house, and some from her place. We also had to move the rest of her belongings into my place for storage. And if that wasn’t chaotic enough, my mother went in for her hip replacement operation the week before, coming back home on the weekend of our move, which meant I had to split my attention between running back and forth across town chasing movers, with caring for Mum with her limited mobility during the critical first few days of her recovery period. I spent a couple of nights sleeping on Mum’s lounge-room floor while M had to deal with getting the new place organised and settled—not to mention getting her old unit cleaned and emptied.

Then we threw some new Ikea furniture into the mix. In hindsight, this was certainly not the best idea when we had a house full of perfectly good furniture in storage, but … at least we got 18 months’ usage out of it.

Second Move

Our second move came after I decided that this whole “relationship” thing might actually work. M had made her preference for an apartment in the city quite clear, and with her son nearing the end of his schooling I once again had to decide: pursue this on a more permanent basis, or call it quits.

Since I could not see any other way to make it work, I told Michelle I would sell my place, and roll the money into a deposit. We were both reticent, but no other approach made sense—and it wasn’t like we were the first couple to ever sell up to buy a place together.

So, we held a few garage sales (see below) in a vain effort to get rid of some of our old stuff, and then we put the place on the market. Of course, we were on a bit of a timeline, wanting to get out of the place we were renting before its lease ended, so it was all a bit of a mad rush. After getting rid of what we could with the garage sales, we had to move what remained into temporary storage in the garage of the place we were renting.

I had been collecting a large library of books and DVDs over the 20+ years I lived alone in that house, and as we were frantically trying to pack them into boxes on the night before the removalists arrived, I remembered having that exact nightmare after the move into the house, all those years ago.

“The difference between a collector and a hoarder is, the collector has a database!”

Me, proud database owner.

I laughed. I cried. Mostly I cried. It was utter chaos, and coming on the heels of the two weekends of garage sales, we were both utterly exhausted.

Oh, and in the middle of all this, Mum went into hospital for her second hip replacement. We had actually planned around her op, so we’d be done before she went in, but her doctor decided to do it a couple of weeks early.

Third Move

Once we bought our apartment, we had to do two things: decide what to take with us—scaling the contents of two households and an Ikea splurge back into one—and figure out how to get rid of what was left. Furthermore, we had both felt the decidedly capitalistic problem of being held prisoner by our possessions, of owning too much. So we did not want to be cramming everything into our new place; we wanted room to breathe.

Deciding what to take and what to leave behind was not easy. Sure, the whole Marie Kondo, “if it sparks joy” approach was a pretty good guideline, but still, we were both faced with leaving behind items with possibly sentimental value that just would not fit in our new life.

We spent long nights moving stuff around, taking measurements, deciding what furniture could go where—and after the first big move, we discovered that a couple of our chosen bookcases (we both love books and are keeping as many as we can without returning to hoarder status) were just too big and black and bulky to fit the new space, so we got the removalists back on the following weekend to swap a few things between the house and the apartment.

And despite not wanting to buy anything new after our last little effort, we decided to take the opportunity to buy a new fridge (to suit three of us; the old one had barely been big enough) and we discovered that we needed a new washing machine because our big old one just did not fit in the space provided.

Once all the bulk furniture shuffling was complete, we faced the task of getting everything else out of the rental before we get the cleaners in. We had a two-day garage sale over the weekend; it was generally successful, but we still have so many books! We’ll be spending the next few days trying to deal with them…

Nobody reads any more. (And yes, I’m aware the correct comment in response to this is therefore “TL;DR”…)

So, we have a little more to do. One more wild weekend, perhaps. And then we’re done, and we can finally kick back and relax, and get on with living our new life in the city.

Garage Sales

I think I could die happy if I never have to hold another garage sale in my life. Interacting with people is not easy for me at the best of times, and making polite chit-chat with them as they pick over the corpse of your old life is particularly stressful. But I’m not here to whine about “garage sales are hard”. I just wanted to make a passing comment on the people you meet at such events.

Some people are just thieving scumbags. If you’re selling books for $20 a box and you have a few more expensive ones set aside, these people will take any advantage to slip the expensive ones into a box, cover them with cheaper ones, and then try to knock you down to $15 for the box, with no hint of shame. You know who you are. (In fact, in a few instances, I know who you are too!) Some, even if you don’t actually catch them stealing something that they could get for a pittance, leave you with the feeling they’re casing the joint. The ones who move through, ripping books off shelves and tossing them in a box because they’re going to go off and sell them. (I don’t mind them making a profit, but the pair I’m thinking of had no respect whatsoever for books or for other people’s possessions.)

I don’t want to talk about those people. They’re out there, a blight on the moral landscape, and they probably sleep happily at night no matter what I say. We’ve met them, we’ve been robbed by them, and the less time we waste on them the better.

On the other side of the coin are the truly lovely people.

The old guy, for instance, who asked for a recommendation and who brusquely dismissed all Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and 95% of my collection, as “all that Star Wars crap”; he preferred realism. We found him a few books; he left with a small handful of maybe 7 or 8. By this point we were selling books at “fill a box for $1” because our goal was simply to get rid of as many as possible. He asked how much; I told him “a dollar”. “Fook that,” he said, and gave us $5, then added an extra $1 coin because that was what he’d pulled out of his pocket.

The young woman, still in high school, who filled three boxes, and who spent her entire time there chattering excitedly to us. It seemed she was happy to be among people who understood her passion for books, and who shared similar tastes. She even spent time helping other people find what they were looking for. Clearly, while her parents were supportive—they bought her a couple of bookcases, after all—they didn’t quite understand why someone would read for pleasure.

The guy who spent an hour or more browsing through everything—twice—and finally overpaid for the boxes he’d filled, who then chatted about dogs as I helped him carry his stuff back to his car. The guy who came back the next day to take away another box.

These are the people I’ll remember long after the assholes have blurred together into a smear of unpleasantness in the depths of my mind…

Of course there are the rest; a dozen anecdotes I could describe, but won’t: the woman who bought our literal trash, the guy who dropped a fridge on me, the engineer holding a 1400-year-old grudge.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

Roy Baty. Possibly.

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