You’ve Got to Move This
Hey, did you hear?? We’re moving!! In less than 13 days! And I know this might surprise some of you, since we’re generally so organized, but we just started packing yesterday. Luckily, aside from the blood, (mine) violent profanity accompanied by styrofoam bits stuck to everything, (Tony) and cowering on top of the entertainment center, (Ramon) it went relatively well. Oh, and other than the fact that I’m even more worried about our mental state after going through some of our boxes. There was a box in the hall closet filled with rocks. Literally. We had a BOX OF ROCKS in our closet. Wtf? In addition, you know those little figures you get for a quarter in the machines at Jewel? You can also get stickers and stuff like that? This place is littered with those figures. Monkeys, GI Joes, mini koosh balls, you name it, it’s somewhere here. Why two adults with no children have this collection of shit I’m not sure ~ but I do know that it is most likely coming with us and I’ll be asking the same questions the next time we move.
Anyhow, it got me thinking of all of the moves we’ve been a part of in our 11 years together. (Procrastination at its finest, right here.) And in thinking about all of these, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is NO WAY IN HELL this is going to go smoothly. Below is a brief synopsis.
Move 1: Me into my freshman year dorm. First baby girl going to college, leaving home for the first time. It’s a family affair. I am seventeen years old and fucking terrified, and have compensated for that terror all summer by refusing to pack and fighting with my mother. We load all of my worldly possessions and shower caddy into the family Jeep and head off, bright and early. We are not quite three miles from the house when my mother utters the phrase she has yet to live down. (Side note, this probably won’t be that funny to anyone outside my immediate family, but I guarantee will the be the best part of this post for my mom, dad, and sister.) We are right at Thorndale on 53 when there is a loud gasp, followed by, “RICH!!! STOP THE CAR!!! I. smell. TIDE!!!” in a voice that should be reserved for phrases like, “He’s got a gun!” and “We’re being robbed!!!” My dad reluctantly pulls over and we dig through all of the boxes to find the Tide, cap securely fastened and not riddled with holes, nestled in my laundry basket.
Move 2: Moving me out of said dorm. Mama somehow got out of that one. Upon arrival, Carly immediately comes up with a plan: “We don’t we get the big stuff together, then one of us will wait by the car for Uncle Roger while the other two go back and forth (up and down eight flights of stairs) with smaller boxes?” To which my dad responds, “Well, I was thinking we’d get the big stuff together first, then maybe one of us can wait by the car while the other two go back and forth with smaller boxes.” Without blinking an eye, Carly looks at me, then my dad, and says, completely deadpan, “Yep. That makes more sense. Let’s do that.”
Move 3: Me into Watterson Towers, otherwise known as the worst day in Olson family history since the torrential downpours during the family vacation to the Smokey Mountains in ’89. For those unfamiliar, Watterson was, at the time, the largest dorm in the country. It housed nearly 3,000 people. My new room was on the top floor. And because the architect who designed it was obviously a masochist who wanted to break up families, there were only eight elevators and they each only stopped every fifth floor. So once you finally got off the elevator, you still had to schlep all of your shit up two flights of stairs. Add to that my mom found out I could have moved in the day before if I’d offered to be a move in coordinator but I declined because I didn’t want to get up at 6AM the following morning, and to that that it was hot and there wasn’t really air conditioning, and you have the makings for one really fucking bad day.
Trisha and I were going to be living together, and she was bringing bunk beds, which meant we had to switch out the extra long beds for our own mattresses. We bring the mattress up on the first trip, when it is discovered she’s not there yet and I, in my brilliance, forgot to get the key at the front desk, we decide Carly will wait with the mattress while the rest of us go back, get the key, and some more boxes. Which makes sense.
Except it took four hours to get back up there. For four hours, Carly sat in the stinky hallway, hopefully scanning the crowds for her family. For four hours, she didn’t pee, eat, or drink anything because she was afraid to leave my stuff and also didn’t know where she could possibly go. Keep in mind this was before cell phones, so she also didn’t have the benefit of knowing when/if we were coming back. Not once in four hours did anyone notice that there was a fourteen year old girl sitting by herself, desperately searching for a familiar face. By the time we got back up there, every one of us was homicidal. (Side note ~ that little stunt did get her exonerated from my next three moves.)
Moves 4 and 5: into and out of our college house. I have met my lifelong best friends, one who would become my sister in law, in that dorm room, and there are nine of us renting a huge, falling apart house for our senior year. It is everything a college house should be, peeling paint, sagging front porch, stairs tied up with rope. It is the scene of one of the best years of my life. My mom, upon seeing it for the first time, declared it nearly unlivable and vows never to sit in it. (I’m pretty sure she never did.) She still refers to it as “that F-n dump you lived in.” That move actually goes okay as no one except us wanted to stay in it that long, unable to believe that they were actually paying for their children to live there.
Moving out of that house, however, was not a happy occasion. First of all, none of us wanted to leave. After four years of complaining that we couldn’t wait to get out into the real world, once the reality was upon us, we quickly realized that it wasn’t ever going to be like this again. We didn’t want to leave the wonderful limbo that is college ~ near complete freedom but near zero responsiblity. So, in typical asshole fashion, we simply pretended it wasn’t happening. (This philosophy sometimes serves me well. I don’t get stressed much. Other times, it makes my mom want to come after me with a hammer. This was one of those times.) We hadn’t packed nearly anything and decided instead to throw a party the night before move out day.
Did I mention move out day was also graduation day for several of us? My graduation was set for 8AM. Tony and I had started dating the summer before, and Mary was graduating at 1PM. In between, he got to help move us across the street, where we would spend the summer doing internships. The party didn’t break up till nearly five. My parents, sister, and Aunt Sheila showed up at 7:30, thrilled with the fact that I was graduating. They arrived to find a couch in the lawn still smoldering because someone had lit it on fire, beer cans littering the bushes, and cigarette butts all over the floor. And me, in my cap and gown, holding onto the the porch ledge in the hopes it would make the house stop spinning, feebly waving. In retrospect, it’s pretty funny. I mean, what better way to send off your college career? At the time, however, my mom took one look at me and said, “She’s hungover. I’ll kill her.”
I made it through graduation and we started moving stuff across the street (basically in garbage bags, as I’d neglected to pack, what with the couch burning party and all.) It was complete chaos. The girls that were moving into our house showed up at eight, to find us stumbling around, trying to find our shit. Their parents were even less amused than ours were. Tony was walking in front of me, carrying a single lamp with Mardi Gras beads dangling from it, when he dropped it. Me, struggling behind him with two full garbage bags, yelled, “Hey! Don’t break that!” And that was the first time I heard him direct the F bomb at me. Good times.
Move 6: Carly into her freshman dorm in Milwaukee. Also known as the summer of the bees. I don’t remember much other than the bees. So. many. bees. And I got a speeding ticket on the way back because apparently driving 80mph while crying because I’d left my baby sister with a wobbly smile on her face, saying, “You’ll call, right?” in a 1988 Dodge Diplomat attracts attention to the Wisconsin Highway Patrol.
Move 7: Carly into her first apartment in Chicago. She is on one of the busiest streets in Lincoln Park. Tony and I are, under threat of death, there at 7:00AM. No one else shows until at least 8:30. The Olson family’s lack of depth perception is evidenced in trying to manuever a couch up three flights of stairs. I’m pretty sure someone cried.
Move 8: Carly into her next Chicago apartment. Moving out of one of the busiest streets in Chicago onto the other busiest street in Chicago.
Move 9: Carly into her her studio in Chicago. Lack of depth perception is clearly evidenced in trying to fit furniture and clothes that require at least a two bedroom house into less than 575 square feet.
Move 10: Carly into Bob’s condo. (Did you count those? With this one, I am finally absolved of the Watterson/mattress debacle and she is to help with my next move.) She has this structure from IKEA that she wants to use as a headboard in their room. Before I get too far into this, let me please say that I will take an ax to this thing before I try and move it again.
Bob is as strongly convinced it won’t fit in the truck, elevator, or their room as Carly is that it will. As they are two of the stubbornest people I know, we already have the makings for a disaster. My mom doesn’t think it will fit in the truck. Tony wanted to take it apart, then put it back together. My dad thinks it might. I, in typical fashion, figure this will work out somehow. Carly is hellbent bound and determined that this piece of furniture WILL move with her. We are loading up the UHAUL with the idea that the cube shelves from hell will have to stand along the back of the truck. As I hold my breath while they try to stand it up, we discover that it is about a quarter of an inch too tall. Bob looks at it, then Carly, and says, “Told you. Doesn’t fit. Trash it.” Carly, in a very un-Carly fashion, bursts into tears. My dad begins devising other possibilities. My mother sides with Bob. Tony walks away to have a smoke, unwilling to participate in this insane discussion, which is getting more heated by the moment. Of the six of us, only three of us should ever move together, and it is not the three people married to each other. I decide to take control of the situation before this vortex of crazy spins us all to Lake Michigan.
“What if we put everything else in, lay the mattress on top, and then lay the evil cube shelves on top of that?” Bob still doesn’t think it’ll work, neither does my mom. My sister has recovered and decided this is the solution. My dad is still working out other scenarios. Tony is still hiding in the alley. It does work. We get to their place, (Halsted? Also a quite busy street in Chicago,) and now have to move cubes from hell out. No one’s really sure how this happens, but Tony ends up at the back of the truck. Evil cubes take up the entire space of the truck, so he’s sliding them toward my dad and me, but we can’t hold it up without it starting to crack. (Ikea, remember?) So Tony’s trapped in the back and we need him to help stand it up from the top, but he can’t get underneath it because it’s too big. Tony looks at my sister’s hopeful face, at Bob’s irritated one, and, most likely thinking about the beer he’s going to earn for this one, says, “Wait, I got it,” puts both of his feet inside one of the 12 inch by 12 inch cubes, and slides his skinny ass through it, emerging victorious. It is, to this day, the hardest I have ever seen my father laugh.
Move 11: Steve and Marisa into their first home. Marisa has carefully labeled each and every box as to which room it belongs in, and her packed possessions are far more organized that anything I’ve ever seen. I bet she doesn’t have a random box of rocks or a singing chicken carefully packed in a box all its own. I kind of want to be Marisa when I grow up. I end up being in charge of Miles, their dog. Who is enormous, doesn’t like me, and tries to eat Tony’s socks whenever we’re there. I am struggling with the leash at the end of the UHAUL, trying to have a smoke, when he sees a squirrel and nearly pulls my shoulder out of its socket.
Move 12: Trisha and Marc into their first home. We have stayed over there the night before, ostensibly so we could get an early start. Of course, we ended up drinking until the early morning, and wake up in no mood to move anything, let alone an entire house. It is the hottest day of the summer, recording in around 100 degrees. Their house is five levels. The number of times the words, “What level?” “Five.” “Fuck you.” are uttered in succession has to be in the hundreds. We get everything in, and Tony and Marc go to take the UHAUL back, about 45 minutes away. They get there only to realize that Marc forgot his car keys, stranding them. They have to drive the truck all the way back, pick up the keys, then head back to the UHAUL place while Trisha and I sweat beer, lugging boxes all over the place.
I’ve left a few out, including me and my five foot nothing sister in law wrestling a queen size mattress out of a bakery truck on Clark St.; helping Kelly and Pat paint and get their house ready, which involved plastering over the 47 holes the previous owners had left; Trisha and I moving out of Watterson, and in a fit of brilliance decided not to take the mattress off of the futon to save time, then, in a Friends style “Pivot!! Pivot!!” move, trapped her in a corner, causing an unprecedented claustrophobic panic attack that resulted in her developing superhuman strength and shoving the mattress over the frame and onto my head.
So you may be able to understand why, while I’m ecstatic to move out of this rotten place, I’m dreading the actual day of the move with every cell in my body. And why I’m using my age old avoidance tactic of pretending like it isn’t happening and spending the last hour writing this instead of packing my shit. And if anyone’s not busy on the 1st, we could probably use the reinforcements, as most of the above mentioned are suspiciously busy that day.