The big move

by Heather on September 14, 2012

Where to start?

Since my last post in July (….yikes!), life has been go-go-go – hence, the lack of blogging. After returning from our unexpected vacation in July, we poured our energy into prepping our house to sell. Some projects were easy (cheerful new flowers for the win) while others made us question our sanity (new windows, I’m looking at you.)

Massive de-cluttering took place, leading to the realization that man, we have a lot of crap. Countless donations to Goodwill later, the house felt cleaner, fresher and more spacious. By August, we felt we were ready to contact a realtor to list this sucker, figuring it may take a long time to actually sell.

We listed our house for sale on a Monday.

Within seventy-two hours, we accepted an offer over the asking price with a closing date of September 10.

To say we were shocked was kind of an understatement. To say we were vacillating between giddy hysteria and wild disbelief would probably be more accurate. The house sold far far more quickly than we had anticipated. Truth be told, we were not fully ready to leave with Andrew still writing his dissertation and new jobs not yet lined up. We had assumed the process would take far longer, granting us enough time to solidify our game plan. Luckily, Andrew’s parents offered to let us enjoy a ‘sabbatical’ at their house in the interim while Andrew finishes up writing and we both search for jobs.

Now, I know most people would balk at moving in with their family/in-laws but Andrew’s parents are great about giving us space and independence and treating us more as peers than as ‘the kids.’ Plus, they live at the beach. This = awesome. After living away from the coast for so long, I’m going to appreciate every moment I have by the water.

Last week, we launched into our move from PA to NC – not a simple task by any means. In fact, it quickly descended into utter chaos. Please, join me on a journey back in time:

Monday AM – We eat a somewhat leisurely breakfast before we prepare to pick up our scheduled moving truck – cue birds chirping, sun shining, general sense that all is well with the world. We then receive a phone call saying that our reserved truck did not arrive over the weekend and we must choose between a smaller truck (at a discount) or a monstrously huge truck that could hold a small neighborhood (I may be slightly exaggerating). We’re feeling overly confident in how much stuff we’ve donated and sold and agree on the smaller truck. We promptly pat ourselves on the back for saving money – birds are still chirping, sun is still shining. We pick up the new truck – I bust out laughing at the tiny toy truck that we will be cramming our possessions into. The first wave of doubt hits but I roll over it with a zealous ‘We’ll just donate what doesn’t fit!’

Monday PM – The day has turned rosier with a last minute buyer for my piano (which I had given up hope on). We’re thrilled that we no longer have to worry about giving ourselves hernias. We move everything down from the attic and the house immediately feels ten times smaller – how the hell did we accumulate all this crap? I sort through our clothes, shoes, appliances, and random odds & ends and we cart off a carload of stuff to Goodwill. We start packing the truck, loading the heaviest furniture first, followed by some of the heaviest boxes. We step back, wipe the sweat off our brow and congratulate ourselves on getting the, quote, ‘hard part done.’ We treat ourselves to take-out, devouring delicious veggie burgers and sweet potato fries. We fall asleep with the determined attitude that we will make this tiny truck work.

Tuesday AM – We eat a slightly more hurried breakfast and then throw more stuff into boxes. Apparently, another house of unpacked objects broke in during the night and overtook our home.  A feeling of slight dismay starts to settle in my gut. We head off to sign some paperwork for the house and take yet another carload of stuff to Goodwill. We return and contemplate how to fit our freakishly large armchair and rower on the truck along with everything else that remains.

Tuesday PM – I have a brilliant idea and ask a friend if we can temporarily store said pieces in her basement for the time being. Never mind when or how we would get them in the future – we need a solution RIGHT NOW, people. Permission is granted and we tote the armchair and rower (the most awkwardly shaped and heavy object everrrr) over to the basement and return home. We haul more stuff onto the truck and I throw more random crap priceless valuables into boxes. The weather decides we must be lonely and gives us rain for company. We interrupt the packing chaos to return our modem to Comcast. Forty-bajillion other people are also visiting Comcast, all in dire need of upgrading to the mega-quintuple-play package. We return home and attack the tetris puzzle that is our moving truck until late into the evening. We lug our bed onto the truck and are forced to face the awful truth – there is not enough space for what we have left.

The truck is simply too small. Several miles away, ginormous monster truck releases an evil cackle.

Wednesday AM: We call Penske and they kindly agree to switch out our truck to the ginormous truck instead (the original truck still has not arrived). We unload everything we packed.

Let me repeat: WE UNLOAD EVERYTHING WE PACKED.

Please take a moment and think about how much fun that was.

We retrieve our awkward-heavy rower and armchair and exchange trucks.

Wednesday PM: We cautiously return home. Truck #2 takes up allllmost our entire driveway. We re-load everything we unloaded. We move everything from our shed to the front lawn. I die a little inside. The remaining hours pass by in a dazed blur of packing, cleaning, and aching shoulders. We collapse onto our sleeping bags in the wee hours and grab what sleep we can. We feel kinda like this:

(forgive the crappy iphone quality)

Thursday AM: All-out whirlwind of cleaning occurs and we fiiiiinally get on the road around 11:30 am. Sawyer joins Andrew in the cab of the truck, and I get the beagles for traveling companions. A sense of tired relief washes over as we roll out of the driveway and get on our way.

Thursday PM: The drive is relatively smooth. And then we enter Virginia and get in the vicinity of even thinking of being near I-95. Traffic freezes and I wonder if Hermione has used her time turner but I didn’t get the memo. We cross into North Carolina, traffic magically clears and the drive become smooth sailing. And thennnnn, the rain comes. Not just any rain. Pouring, pounding rain. Slow-down to 10 mph rain. White knuckles-clenched-on-the-steering-wheel rain. The long drive morphs into the never-ending drive. The rain finally slows enough to resume a decent speed and we roll up to the house around 11:30 pm.

And then the truck key breaks off in the ignition. I kid you not. If my brain had not turned to mush at that point, I would have thought to snap a picture but alas, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Friday AM/PM: The broken key turns out to be a blessing in disguise as a locksmith must come out, allowing us to return the truck later and be able to take our time unloading. The key problem is sorted out and we head off to unload big a$$ truck into a storage unit. Three sweaty, tiring hours later, we lock the unit up and return the truck.

For the rest of the weekend, I am pretty much a vegetable, capable of nothing other than sleeping, complaining about my neck like I’m an 85-year-old grandma and gobbling down spoonfuls of almond butter.

But now, I’m back in the land of normalcy, thank goodness, and have figured out a good routine in the new place. It’s been nice to get back to regular meals and a regular work-out schedule. Heck, we even managed to get our butts in gear for a 5k yesterday. And I’ve had time to reflect and properly mourn what we’ve left behind.

Yes, mourn. Moving is hard stuff. We lived in Pennsylvania for four years and somewhere along the way, it transformed from a frigid tundra that must be temporarily tolerated while in school to our home. When we first arrived in PA, we had a bad habit of focusing on what it wasn’t – namely, that it was not NC. There was no beach a short drive away, it was freaking cold in the winter (that seemed to go on until May), and people pronounced Du Boise weird. But over time, we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes and saw Happy Valley for what it is: a great big wonderful mix of academic and agrarian, a tightknit community that supports its members, all amidst the backdrop of a lush and beautiful environment.

Pennsylvania is where Andrew and I truly found our identities, as individuals and as a married couple. If you have ever been married and attended graduate school at the same time as your spouse, you will know exactly how trying of a period it can be. There were times we wanted to quit – quit each other, quit school. But we grew … and we strengthened …  and we came out closer than ever. I am achingly grateful for all that I experienced during my time in the Keystone state  – the good, the bad & the borderline ridiculous. We may have left behind the house that we shaped with our blood, sweat and tears. We may have left behind our favorite little coffee shop, a thriving local foods community and the gently rolling countryside of Penns Valley.  But we carry with us amazing memories and life-long friendships. And we carry with us the hope that we will love our next landing spot just as much :) .

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bill Collin September 15, 2012 at 5:25 am

love the way you write, give our best to D & M, best of luck in your new home

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