Moving Day

It is moving day. Soon, the packers will show up in droves and you house will look like a battle zone. You have your last cup of tea in peace, and you think of what is to come.

The doorbell will ring, and you’ll welcome the moving crew inside. You’ll show them the different rooms, and all seems to be just fine. Since you’ve moved before, you have thought ahead and equipped yourself with a black Sharpie to help label the boxes, because from experience the packers’ labeling isn’t exactly helpful when you get to your new place and wonder which “kitchen supplies” box has the knives and which one the spices. And what the hell room they meant with “lounge.” Which means as soon as the packers get going – and, while perhaps not hailing from the top of their class, they are extremely fast at what they’re doing – you will be running around the house making sure you do all you can to add little notes to your future self.

You’ll also want to make sure you give instructions on how to handle the Indonesian rice bed you’ve babied from Indonesia via Singapore, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and all the way to South Africa, because the bottom has a tendency to fall out if handled the wrong way, and your husband will kill you if something happens on your watch.

If you have smaller children, you may temporarily lose one of them and work yourself into a minor panic trying to locate him, wondering if it is, in some crazy way, possible for him to have been packed into a box? Because he is gone! You eventually find him again an hour later, sitting with his back to a big carton in the farthest reaches of the house, headphones on and engrossed in a book, oblivious that 4 people have been yelling his name for 30 minutes straight.

As you move around the house putting out fires, you will realize, now that you can see everything without furniture, that the walls are a disaster and will need to be painted or your landlord will sue you. On the wall under the kids’ desk you will discover a multitude of neat brown footprints, all in different sizes and shapes and not traceable to one particular kid, where they stretched their legs when working on the computer.

For some reason you have dentist appointments for all four children, on this very day of all days. It sounds crazy, but anyone who knows how hard it is to get a dentist appointment, even 6 months ahead of time, knows that you can’t just let it go. Plus, who knows how long it will take for you to find and actually call a new dentist wherever you’re moving. So today, while the packers are at your house, you will have to shuttle back and forth to the dentist, dropping off kids and picking others up, because you don’t want to just stay there the whole time with God knows what the packers might be up to at your place.

Like putting rotten potatoes in a box, for instance.

You’ll also have to somehow take pictures of the bed you bought used for one of the kids and which will be disassembled into a thousand pieces, with no re-assembly instructions for when it emerges on the other side. You’ll want some kind of documentation of the steps.

What you should be doing is giving this job to one of the children. Because, frankly, your children have nothing to do and are bored out of their minds. They will play monopoly for hours, they will make themselves comfortable between all the boxes, and when there is nothing left to do they will throw blueberries at each others mouths to see who has the best aim.

It will be just as well to have blueberries all over your kitchen floor. Better than having them accidentally packed up in a box. Although they’re bound to smell better than rotten potatoes.

You will be so happy when the day is finally over and the last of the crew is out the door that you will, in an unexpected bout of nostalgia, want to go see the container one last time up by the road before it begins its journey. This might not be a good idea, because instead of seeing off your sealed container as you expected, you might come across a scene of disarray where two packers are sitting on the pavement, in the twilight, taking apart shelves that frankly you had told them earlier, without sounding rude, they should take apart but which they insisted would fit into the container whole, but now that they didn’t, had to be taken apart, screw by screw, while you settle in with the rest of the packers watching with baited breath. And hallelujah, eventually everything fits, albeit barely, and they throw all the screws into the container and bolt it shut. What?? Did you just see them throw all the screws in like that, loose to knock around as they please?

But as you sit there in the morning sunshine, sipping your tea and thinking of all of this and more in the day ahead of you, you’re already too tired to care, should this actually ever come to pass.

You’ve moved six times already, and if that container, including all the screws (and perhaps some rotten potatoes), sank to the bottom of the sea on its long journey, you might actually be relieved. You are tired to your bones of moving stuff around the world.
I started writing this blog post in December of 2012 as we were about to move from Johannesburg to Nashville, and for reasons now forgotten, I never finished it. It’s kind of nice to now look back into the past this way. Stay tuned for some more pictures to go with it.