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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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justin Dixon February 21, 2010 at 9:07 am

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we find that we have accumulated when we move?

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2 Anastasiya February 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Congratulations on the move! I am glad that you managed to preserve your upbeat attitude in spite of the Myrphy’s law and all the difficulties of the move. Moving is not an easy thing and we do not realize it until we actually start moving.
Good luck on a new place Madeleine!

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3 Madeleine Kolb February 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

@Justin, It is amazing, but what surprised me the most was what a hassle it has been to get disentangled from our prior connections in Seattle and make new connections. Examples: different legal requirements for auto registration and driver’s license; no coverage by my former cellphone service provider in the immediate area of our apartment; and having to find another doctor, car repair place, and so on.

@Anastasiya, Thank you for the kind comment. I’ve followed news of your move on your blog, so my congratulations to you also. I hope that you and your family are very happy and healthy in your new home.

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4 Belinda Munoz February 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Madeleine, congrats on the big move!
And to the section about Murphy’s Law, I think it’s wise to build in room for things to go wrong when we take on big projects with many pieces, especially those that involve other players.

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5 Madeleine Kolb February 27, 2010 at 10:36 am

Belinda, Thanks for your comment. I agree about anticipating that Murphy’s Law will kick in, but I really underestimated the number of times this would happen, how stressful it would be, and how long it would take to straighten out some of Murphy’s mischief.

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6 Angela Artemis May 6, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Hi Madeleine, moving is a nightmare. I’ve moved 13 times – so far – and am contemplating another one. I’m trying to think very positively about it though. I’m glad your move turned out well though in the long run.
.-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..A Meditation on Meditating =-.

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7 Madeleine Kolb May 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

Angela,
Moving is definitely a nightmare. In my life, I’ve moved across the country five times and moved from place to place in the same area a bunch of times.

If you do decide to move again, trying to think positively should help a lot. (You may have to keep reminding yourself to stay positive.) One thing I should have done more in this recent move is to ask friends and neighbors for help with small things, especially after my BF had left to begin his job in Maryland. Asking for help; people are so willing if we will but ask.
.-= Madeleine Kolb´s last blog ..SALT Talks: 5 Reasons Why the Government Shouldn’t Set Sodium Standards =-.

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8 Adena Atkins August 28, 2010 at 5:32 am

Hi Madeleine,

I’ve moved across the country, out of the country, and now I’m moving back into the country again to a new city. It is so exhausting! I’d love to hear more about how you settle in.
.-= Adena Atkins´s last blog ..A Gentle Guide to Surviving The Completion Blues =-.

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9 Madeleine Kolb August 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Adena, Exhausting is certainly an apt word. There’s more though. I’m still realizing how much I took for granted in Seattle. Living in a city, especially a city that you know well, is very different from living in a rural area. And, since I’m working from home, a big challenge is meeting people, making new friends.

I look forward to following your experience moving back and to a new city.

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10 Baz September 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Seattle has been my second home on business travel for the past few months. I can see why leaving would be difficult simply because of the environment and the surrounding communities. I applaud your accomplishments. It’s a huge undertaking for sure but it sounds as if all 4 of you are happily relocated. :)
.-= Baz´s last blog ..7 Tips to Simplify Your Weight Loss Plan =-.

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11 Madeleine Kolb September 6, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Hey Baz, Seattle’s physical setting is spectacular, and I really miss the mountains, especially Mt. Rainier. But the four of us have settled in quite well. And a short walk through the woods brings us down to Chesapeake Bay with its wonderful assortment of herons, egrets, sea gulls, terns, osprey, and even vultures.

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12 Pam Hirsch September 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Hi Madeleine,

Your post brings back so many memories of our move from North Carolina to Seattle almost four years ago. We dealt with many of the same things you have – how to get the cat out here, how to close up the house and get it ready to put on the market, what clothes to take in my one suitcase to last me until my husband could move also (two months later). So many logistics.

We want to move back East – or at least someplace with sun – in the next two years. And so we are getting rid of stuff now! I take something to the Goodwill every week and sell my beloved books (in favor of a Kindle) at least every two weeks. I’m weaning my husband off his stuff slowly and carefully.

I hope all is going well for you and that you are meeting new friends!

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13 Madeleine Kolb September 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hey Pam,
Our experiences do sound very similar. Lots of tedious but essential logistical matters.

My BF just bought a Kindle. I can really see the advantages, although we still have hundreds of books.

One thing that is surprisingly challenging here is meeting people. Southern Maryland is rather isolated, and it’s a 3-4 hour round-trip to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. We’re still checking out groups and activities.

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