I have officially moved from LA to NC. Scary thought! Sure there were those years in Shanghai in between. And I am not so sure that small town America is the place for me, but at least for the time being, this is where I am. The whole process of moving has been painful and frustrating, and I am hemorrhaging money. Not a good start — a bad omen (if you believe in such things.)
The Move began with a flight to the City of Lost Angles to release my worldly possessions from storage. For the past 3 years my precious items have been languishing in a shipping crate in Rancho Cucamonga, hoping to be set free and used again. When I was planning the move, the movers said they needed an inventory so they could estimate how much it would cost. Frankly, I had no idea how many boxes there were nor did I remember all the other things I’d stuffed in there. So after laying out my lifestyle and how I’d pared down before puttting everything in that crate, we agreed on there being a just bit over a ton of stuff. I arrived early to meet the moving company and when I opened the crate, I was astounded d by the number of possessions I still have. I distinctly remembered having given away all but the “most important” items– pared down, scaled back, gone minimal. But instead of the 25 boxes I had told them about, there were probably 65 or 70. And I’d forgotten the filing cabinets, and that nice bedside table, my bulky old computer and enormous monitor, not to mention dozens of other “absolutely necessary” things.
The moving men arrived and went on a bit about the amount of stuff there actually was in the crate, then they loaded and repacked, and once it was all on the truck, it was time to negotiate the “real” price of the move. Based on the original one ton+, the price was around $1200. But now, they eyeballed it and decided that $2500 was closer to the mark. They mentioned something about there being X linear feet and that meant that it weighed Y. The original concept as I understood it was based solely on weight — .60 per pound. But now, it was .90 per pound for everything over the original 2200 lbs! (Seems that was in the fine print.) And since all my stuff was now on the truck, I was in no position to negotiate. They decided that it was closer to 2 tons. And the head guy told me he was getting me the best price, but that if they weighed it, it might be more. I had to make a decision on the spot. Not being a mover I have no “eye” for weight, no way of saying what the real weight was. Of course, had I estimated it to be 2 tons and it was less, then they would not give me back money. (In fact, I later found out they never weighed it at all.) It is a racket. How naive of me! I should have known, and when I realized they were based in Vegas it all became crystal clear. But my life was in their hands, or should I say my possessions, and my money, in their bank, so I headed back to LA, had lots of drinks with lots of friends and then I flew home and waited.
And waited. And then they called to say they’d be here on Thursday morning – 2 weeks later. That was pushed back to Friday, then Saturday and then finally the movers arrived on Sunday. As I waited, a trio of local men stood on the sidewalk chatting. They turned out to be the ones who would carry my possessions into my new apartment. The truck arrived and my things were wedged in between the possessions of 10 other families. Extracting my items took some time and a few other people’s things nearly found their way into my house. My dining table proved to be too long to make it up the stairs because of the turn it had to take, so it was left on the front porch. One of the moving men was old and infirm and I was concerned that he might collapse as he huffed and puffed up and down the stairs; the other guys seemed to be fine with him just carrying the lightest stuff like the fan or the box of pillows. I think he was probably also illiterate since all the boxes were clearly marked as to which room they went in, and he didn’t get one right if I didn’t point him in the right direction.
As to taking care of my things, the first thing I noticed was that one antique wooden wheel on my desk was missing. The driver said they would replace it and took a photo with his phone, but I am not expecting anything. Boxes were smashed and any pretense of them treating things carefully was destroyed. Once they left, and I surveyed the piles, began to unwrap and unpack, and I realized how badly they had messed up the move. My phone, answering machine, favorite lamp, entire CD collection and a much-loved large art piece were nowhere to be found. And those were just the things I looked for. I am sure other items that I have not needed are also gone. When I called the company, they promised to look for my stuff in the warehouse, but I am not holding my breath. Their insurance policy is that they will repay .60 per pound. So if I lost 100 pounds worth, they will give me $60. I cannot imagine how you prove what is gone or how much it weighed. It’s a racket with a warehouse where people get to take your things. Or maybe they just give your stuff to other families. If the other people don’t call to say they have someone else’s possessions, then what?
As I unpacked, I started thinking about what a move says about a person. What did I keep? What do my possessions say about me? I have a lot of art work. And a ton of paper and books. The photography apparatus that I cannot let go of must mean something. My kitchen is very well appointed; I barely had to buy anything to get to work in there. So, I am all about food, art, and books. Hmm…
There are certain items of clothing that I have not worn in years, yet can’t bring myself to give away. I am hanging on to a beautiful though extremely petite jacket that was made for my great grandmother, to wear over a dress with a bustle and I know it should be specially treated, but how? I have lived from a couple of suitcases for the last few years and really have not said to myself very often that I miss my other clothes, yet I have boxes full and now closets crammed with various suits and skirts that I have not thought of in ages. There is one give-away box that I am trying to get myself to fill, even if it is ever so slowly.
My office is box after box of papers. I can’t imagine what I could be saving. There are two filing cabinets full and at least 5 more boxes filled with who knows what papers. It will be interesting to see what is in them all, though it maybe depressing to think that I thought it was imperative to hold on to all that paper. If the movers could have just lost some of the trash and delivered the things I miss, would I even notice the missing paper?
So here I am, sitting in my incomplete living room; the sofa will not arrive from the One Day Delivery store for 2 1/2 weeks. My bedroom is incomplete as the dresser has been sent out for refurbishing. My dining room is not set up since the table is still sitting on the front porch waiting for the carpenter who is working on the dresser to come over and disassemble it outside and reassemble it inside. So my life seems very discombobulated at present. I feel like nothing is together. And until it is, I am deferring living here.Yeah, I know that it is ridiculous. I could write, or photograph, or begin my web design in the midst of this disorder, but it is the organizer in me that wants it all to be in its place before I am. A silly justification to keep myself from getting into living here, no doubt.
But this is where I am. This is where I live. And in a few weeks, the sofa, the dresser, and the table will all be here, I will have finished opening all the boxes and deciding what to do with all the things I kept in that crate, and I will be without excuse. What then?