Thursday, June 30, 2016


            We don’t live in war-ravaged Syria. We don’t live in a refugee camp on some border. We live in an apartment in Novi, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. We are a comfortable couple who is compressing two fairly large homes into an apartment, and the process is making us less comfortable. Boo-hoo.

            I’ve already written a bit about the packing. I read somewhere that there are three things that most men think they know how to do: build a fire, run a restaurant, and call plays for their football team. Notice that packing up your home when you are moving does not appear on that list – though some of my male readers may beg to differ. I found that it helped me to specialize on my individual talents.

            Liquids are very difficult to move. Moving vans don’t like them, and they tend to spill in your car. My contribution was to make sure that we had as few liquids to pack or discard as possible – especially wine and bourbon. Kim, perhaps reacting to my evident stress in the whole process, even suggested I purchase another bottle of bourbon so I could feel constructive as I drank it. She is a very understanding wife.

            While Kim was doing virtually all the packing, I contributed by using what is now called, in an unfortunate term, my “skillset”:  I reached things on high shelves. I unscrewed tight lids. I lifted heavy boxes. That’s about it.

            Kim is slightly more organized than I am. She devised an inventory system, organized room by room with a number on each box and a one-word description of the contents. I kept a record, except my record listed the real contents. So while the box reads “utensils,” my private list reads, “collection of Rolex watches.” The deception is meant to discourage thieves. I better not lose my list!

            Kim has been recovering from a series of surgeries and is looking forward to more medical procedures in the future. The doctors’ orders are clear and consistent: rest. This is not something that Kim does well. In an attempt to help her, I tried to provide an example of a person resting. Sometimes this worked, but not very often.

            Packing the car was a different kind of adventure. Remember those wooden cube puzzles you put together by inserting and twisting oddly shaped pieces? Packing our car was a lot like that. Why, when we used a moving van, was our car so full? In addition to clothes for the trip, the rarely used bathroom scale, liquids I could not drink, and files, jewelry and camera gear that we did not trust on the moving van, we also had to move Kim’s very fragile collection of bird nests. But with Kim’s spatial talent, we were able to do it. We even had room to cram in two bricks in case we wanted to repeat some colors from our Florida home if we built in Michigan. The bricks kept us from rattling around in the car.

            We arrived in our Michigan apartment a few hours ahead of our moving van. The crew, the “moving coordinator” told us, was a team of well-trained and experienced professionals. (She probably also describes Donald Trump as “Presidential.”) This was not the case. I won’t go into the details here, most of which Kim enumerated on the Damage Claim Form to United Van Lines. We are trying to put that behind us as we are focusing on adjustments to apartment living.

            The main problem is that we are moving our lives in two beautiful homes into a relatively small apartment (and now, three storage units). We have to learn to do things differently – no small task at our age.
·      The light switches are not where they should be – not where they were in comparable walls in our houses.
·      The oven smokes when you turn it on – not entirely a bad thing, as the smoke alarm reminds me to turn off the oven.
·      The refrigerator collects water on one of the shelves.
·      I can’t find my carrot scraper.
·      The hot water tank is small, so Kim can’t wash her face when I am taking a shower.
·      My closet is one floor up from my bedroom. That’s just how it worked out.
·      What I need tends to be one floor away from where I am. My iPhone health app counted 76 floors I climbed yesterday.

            All those storage boxes we filled in our Florida home have accumulated, either in the storage units or the storage room in our apartment, plus a few that I trip over in the middle of the night. We are saving the empties for the next time we move, an event that I am anticipating with mixed feelings. Yes, we want to live in a home a lot like our Florida home but with Michigan’s woods and fall colors. But moving to that home would involve, you know, moving, a process that I am not quite ready to launch into, though Kim, with her tiny kitchen, is ready to leave tomorrow. Yes, many of the boxes are already packed, though some have to be rewrapped with tape that actually sticks. But the process of moving makes me look for the Fast Forward button on my life’s remote controls. Our good friend Linda describes us as “nomadic box people,” and I’m afraid that’s going to be true for a while.

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