Friends don’t let friends pack for them | moving faux pas

Here was what we envisioned:

We’d have the whole house packed and ready to go, all fitting within the little square of blue tape on the floor and wall of the back room so that we’d know what would fit in the trailer. Bright and early on Saturday (the 28th), our dear friends would descend upon us with Starbucks and McDonalds in hand to help us load the boxes onto the trailer. The house would only need a quick vacuuming, and then we’d lock her up and leave the key for the landlord. Our friends would wave, tearfully, as we drove off into the horizon.

Here is what went down:

Jim starting packing Saturday morning. OK, he did a bit Friday after work, but quickly lost steam around 9pm, which was only a couple of hours after he got off work. He wasn’t worried, he said, because there wasn’t much to do.


The entire garage was filled with his “miscellaneous” boxes. He still needed to go through those. The rest – other than the kitchen – was packed and ready…by friends.

Now, please note that I have the most amazing friends in the whole, wide world. I really do. Several came and went over the past week, helping us pack and clean and do all those things that are so hard to do when you are alone. Moving to another state is a big, fat, hairy deal. Moving to another state while trying to get rid of nearly everything you own – and I do mean decades of junk – is a rough gig. You have to be very selective and frugal. You must be a master packer who can fit massive amounts of breakables into small, carefully wrapped spaces.  It’s not easy even when you can hire movers. With friends helping, it’s a flat-out nightmare.

Friends should not let friends pack for them.

My dearest friend must have sensed the utter panic in my voice when she called bright and early to say she was running late because she had to pick up the kids. I think it might have been the screeching/gasping sound I made when I repeated, “KIDS???!!!”

She offered to hold back until I called, as it sounded like I needed some more time. She’d leave the kids behind. I told her that would be swell.

I locked Jim in the garage to take care of his stuff. I threatened him with no coffee if I didn’t see results. I think I may have heard him weeping, but at least he was doing it into an open box.

It was drizzling, so we decided to back the trailer into the carport. With the help of several other friends, torches, a GPS, random obscenities, railroad ties, and a mountain goat, we got the thing sort-of jackknifed in there in a way that we could at least open the door.

There will be no more trailer backing in our future, trust me.

Finally, I got to use my mad Tetris skills to start loading our little 5×8 trailer. It was full almost immediately, and we hadn’t even started packing the kitchen. Or Jim’s stuff. We still had to load the drum set and the giant wardrobe box.

5′ x 8′ is really, really small.

So, I did what any (in)sane person would do, I started unpacking so that I could reassess what, exactly, we were taking so that I could hopefully let go of even more. This is when I learned to never allow someone else to pack for you. I will say only this: it was all in boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. All of it.

I took Jim some coffee. He actually did have a tear in his eye as he reached out with his shaking hands. I told him to get the 10 boxes he had packed down to one. The rest would have to go. He sucked down the coffee in one gulp and just stared mutely at me. When he realized I was serious, the tear slid down his cheek and landed in his empty cup. He sighed. I left.

Back to the carport, I took apart box after box and, wielding my tape gun like Thor‘s hammer, proceeded to weed out the junk…

…and I do I mean junk. Our dear friends packed it, no matter what it is. Boy, am I glad I cleaned the cat box good and proper.

Friends came and went throughout the process but were relegated to fetching boxes and “supervisory” roles as I packed, repacked, and re-re-packed until I got things whittled down as far as I could get them. I think I hurt Jim’s feelings when I enforced a “let me see it first” rule before he was allowed to close a lid. He’d watch in stunned silence as I took 2, 3, sometimes 4 of his boxes and got them down to 1. Then he’d shuffle back to his corner in the garage mumbling to himself.

In the end, Jim and I let go of many memories and truly valuable things. One of our friends runs a homeless shelter, so they got all our warm clothing, socks, bedding – and even the blanket that my (long dead) grandmother crocheted for my (longer dead) baby brother. I had carted that thing around for over 30 years, but had never used it. It went from place to place in a plastic box. It was too precious.

Too precious to use, isn’t that ridiculous? I truly pray that someone who needs it will appreciate its precious warmth this winter and feel my grandmother’s love wrapped around them. I’m very lucky. I don’t need a ‘thing’ to feel that. Both are with me, always.

I also let go of The Snuggie. Mom would have laughed.

(If you live in the Puget Sound area and have warm things to donate, consider an organizations such as Willow’s Place)

By 2 am, we were alone, tired, and ready to give up. There was still so much to do, and so little room on the trailer! The cats were even more emotionally drained then we were (where was all their STUFF???), and the final piece of furniture – our bed – had already been sold and carried away. We had a dinner of sliced cheese, boiled eggs, and an entire bottle of wine, then laid down on a pile built of an open sleeping bag and random towels and drifted into a fitful slumber. Let the morning’s light wake us. So, we’ll leave a day late…

Tomorrow: will we really make it out of the state of Washington?

Moving box with fearful eyes

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