Leaving Seattle, heading east

by Madeleine Kolb

My last post was A New Year, A New Beginning about moving from Seattle to the Pax River area in Maryland for my BF’s new job. The tone was breezy, upbeat, confident. Along with the new year would be exciting and energizing changes, and I was ready.

At the same time, I was realistic enough to anticipate exhausting aspects of such a move. As I put it,

There is simply no way to avoid the hassles, the obstacles, and the roadblocks…involved in getting from here to there.

I said it and I meant it, but six weeks later it’s obvious that I had no idea what it would actually be like to move two people; two cats; two vehicles; and a houseful of furniture, including 1,600-some books, across the U.S. in the middle of winter.

And that confident, clueless, bring-it-on way of thinking was probably a good thing for the following reasons:

Moving is a logistical nightmare

After the age of 22 or so, no move is really easy. Not because a person gets set in his ways but because with age we tend to accumulate stuff and connections and obligations. There is just so much which ties us down in one place.

First there’s actual stuff–all the things. A move tends to precipitate some serious culling. The coffee pot with the scorched heating pad is an easy call. Into the trash it goes. We’ll get a new one when we get where we’re going. The clothes we haven’t worn for years go to Goodwill. But in the end, there’s still an overwhelming amount of stuff to move.

Then there are the connections and obligations where we are. Take the utilities, for example. My BF started his new job early in January, so the plan was that I would oversee the crating and loading of our furniture into a gigantic moving rig, spend the next two nights at a Days Inn so I could sleep in a bed, and then fly to Washington Reagan Airport. Several days later, painters were scheduled to begin interior painting in the empty house.

A good plan, but I nearly called the various utilities to disconnect service after I’d left town but before the painting began. Just in time, it struck me that the painters should not be working in a cold, dark house without any water.

The greater the distance, the harder the move (and the higher the cost)

Then there are the cats. There aren’t many options for moving cats a long distance. We decided that Puddy and Ginger would go on the airplane with me (not in the cabin). They needed larger carrying cases than the ones we had, medical certificates (which required several visits to a vet), and airplane reservations.

We also decided to board the cats while the movers were in the house and while I was at Days Inn. The total cost for all this was high. So high, in fact,  that I can’t bring myself to add it up.

Murphy’s Law (that things which can go wrong will go wrong) was in full force

  • At the outset, there was a botched credit check regarding the apartment we picked out on our trip to the area in November. Credit checks are fraught, and this one–involving mistaken information–dragged on for weeks. Ultimately, it was straightened out, but in the meantime it was hugely stressful.
  • My BF’s truck initially couldn’t be registered in Maryland because it didn’t pass the inspection requirements. His truck passed after the tint on the windshield, legal in Washington State but not in Maryland, was removed.
  •  A temporary device called a flipper which I had as part of dental implant surgery broke. Twice. This led to five unanticipated visits to the dentist in the weeks and days before I flew to Maryland.
  •  My BF accidentally locked the key to our storage shed in a place he couldn’t open. (It’s a long story, and he was furious at himself.) This created a small crisis because our two bicycles were in the shed. We needed to get them so they could go in the moving van with our furniture. Fortunately, we were able to get a locksmith to come over and open the shed several hours before the movers left.  
  • There’s more, but I think you get the idea.

And now for the good news

With all the things to do and the pressure and the things that went wrong, there were times when either my BF or I got really frustrated. When one of us lost it. The good thing is that, we never lost it at the same time, and we never lost it with each other.

And we persevered. We stuck with the plan, and here’s where things stand:

  •  My BF’s been on the job for just over a month now and has many exciting projects to work on.
  • We’re together in our apartment. It’s a little Spartan with an air mattress on the floor and a number of large cardboard boxes which we’re using as tables.
  • Our two vehicles are here (my BF drove his pick-up truck across the country the week after Christmas, and we hired a mover to haul my car).
  • Our cats, Puddy and Ginger, seem to be adjusting nicely after the trauma of their cross-country trip.
  • Our furniture should be here in a few days.
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