As many of you know, the short people and I recently packed up and moved to Washington state. Initially, I received some guff for leaving the great nation of Portlandia, until everyone realized that (a) the move came as a result of my getting married last year and marriages are generally more successful when couples actually, you know, LIVE together, and (b) we moved into a house with a ginormous backyard that sits on 30 miles of sandy beach with pounding ocean waves and pelicans and HOLY CRAP I LIVE IN PARADISE!!!!!
Of course, while BEING here is rad as shit, GETTING here was a giant bag of crazy. Regardless of how organized, motivated, or well-funded you are, moving blows harder than a Kardashian at an NFL after-party.
Par example. . .
YOU WILL DISCOVER THAT YOU’VE BEEN LIVING IN HUMAN FILTH
Regardless of how fastidious a housekeeper you believe yourself to be, when you move your furniture, you will find stains on your carpets that are darker than Stephen King’s dream journal. And no amount of Rug Doctor, Stanley Steemer, nor “. . .all great Neptune’s ocean will wash this clean”. *
*Macbeth; Act 2, Scene 2. To all those who claimed I’d never use my Liberal Studies degree, thou mayeth suck it.
My advice? Invest in throw rugs, and pray for buyers with questionable hygiene. Trust me, a family with five dreadlocked children named after trees and several large house pets are unlikely to “pooh-pooh” a carpet that looks like a family of Welsh coal miners have been playing Twister on it for the last four years.
U-HAUL CAN EAT A STEAMING BOWL OF ASS
Seriously. Do not be lured by their siren’s song of “$29 Dollars a Day”. Lies, I tell you. LIES!!! First of all, that’s only for moves within the city limits. Does it say that on the van? Does it have a beautiful picture of the city skyline reading: “Trenton – City of Lost Dreams”? No. IT says “New Jersey – The Garden State”; which is all well and good unless you are driving more than 10 miles across the Garden State, in which case U-Haul will pound your ass like a narc at a prison riot. And did I mention that they also charge you for mileage? And gas? And, umm, I know cars are fueled by fossils and – granted -- the thought that your Dodge Rambler is tooling around on the blood of raptors IS pretty fucking epic, I still don’t know which Machiavellian conversion chart deems that U-Hauls cannot be gassed up for less than $5 a gallon. Cut your losses, y’all. Now is the time to either invest in a utility trailer…*
*Norm got me one last year for Valentine’s Day, and believe me, nothin’ says lovin’ like being able to haul a couch, two kayaks, and seven years worth of nostalgia for less than $10 a day. Bam.
…or purge yourself of all worldly goods (aka. furniture) and just go all zen and minimalist on your new place. Namaste.
WHEN TRANSITIONING FROM ONE PLACE TO THE OTHER, THE VITAL ITEM YOU MOST NEED WILL ALWAYS BE AT THE OTHER PLACE
Like Norm’s contact solution. . . Or my running shoes. . . Or the short people’s underwear. Of course, there really is no reason for the absence of the third item(s) except to acknowledge that my children are not terribly bright.
MEEEEEEEEMORIES LIGHT THE CORNERS OF MY MIIIIIIIIIND. . .
One of the glorious things about combining two homes, aside from the whole “one heart, one hand” schizz, is the do-si-do of which photographs will occupy your wall space. Yes, he had a life before you, as you did before him. So, how do you determine which Kodak moments will grace your coffee table and refrigerator door? Here is a Clif’s Notes version of what may (and may not) be deemed acceptable décor. . .
1) A photograph of you and your college friends arm-in-arm as you stand in front of your first car? Acceptable.
2) A photograph of you and your college friends arm-in-arm as you stand in front of the eyewitness at a police line-up? As long as the statute of limitations has not expired, you may want to rethink this one.
1) A snapshot of your husband lovingly cradling his newborn children? Green light.
2) A snapshot of your husband lovingly cradling his junk? RED LIGHT! So. Much. Red.
1) The glorious image of his ex-wife beaming as she walks down the aisle on their wedding day? Yes! Yes! Yes!
2) The glorious image of his ex-girlfriend beaming as she grinds on a stripper pole in a naughty schoolgirl outfit? Are you shitting me?
YOU HAVE STUFF…LOTS AND LOTS OF STUFF
“Oh, this is all just ‘stuff’,” you’ll cry. “Really! Get rid of whatever you want; it’s just ‘stuff’.”
This is a lie. Do not EVER underestimate the power of another person’s ‘stuff’. When you combine homes and find you have the sum total of 14 spatulas, 6 TVs, and 4 rice cookers (don’t ask), you will be compelled to the whole TLC ‘Hoarders’ meets ‘Intervention’ on your cribs and start purging like Kobiyashi after a Fourth of July weenie roast. Abort mission! Abort! Mission! What once was ‘stuff’ suddenly has a whole new and deeper meaning when in the hands of another clueless, albeit well-meaning, individual.
I present into evidence the following. . .*
*And, no. These are totally not rhetorical.
What seems like a “why-in-hell-would-anyone-save-this?” broken piece of plastic to you will inevitably wind up being the integral part of some high-tech, expensive, manly shaving system that your husband will grumblingly dig out of the garbage while he (not so) secretly wonders about your mental stability as represented by your inability to recognize its intrinsic value.
Of course, you too will have the singular moment of “Da fuq?” when you discover your framed high school senior portrait face-down in the trash because your husband didn’t understand why you kept a picture of John Denver all these years.*
*It was the 80’s. Don’t judge. In my defense, my bangs were Rocky Mountain HIGH, suckahs.
But the bottom line is: all the crap you save, toss, box up, and recycle. . .it truly is just ‘stuff’. And stuff will not be sitting across from you at the dinner table. Stuff will not be running through the backyard, howling with laughter. Stuff will not hold you when you break down, or make love to you, or argue with you over who clogged the toilet or left the bathroom light on. Stuff will come and go out of your life like a breeze, so quit being so fucking obsessed with it and focus on the people surrounded by the ‘stuff’; because they will be the ones holding your hand when you leave this earth, not your CD rack or your high school yearbook.
This last week and a half has been Crazytown , and admittedly, I’ve been weepier than a tween at a ‘One Direction’ farewell tour. Saying goodbye to my old life, starting my new one, walking through the empty rooms of the house I proudly bought, and making my mark on my husband’s home. . .we’ve been tap-dancing around each other nervously, trying to figure out where we all fit. But, sitting here now, at the writing desk Norm set up for me because (and I quote), “You’re a writer, Jen. You need to write”; listening to my children downstairs, making their breakfast and talking excitedly about the day’s plans, smiling up at my husband as he tells me “You look exceptionally beautiful today”, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is where we fit. Not just this town, or this house, but all of us together. We fit. And no matter where we are, or where we go, or how many times and places we move. . .we fit. We are a family.
Much love, people.