So a couple weeks ago ‘the big move’ happened. I was accepted to grad school in April, so I knew this was happening, yet I still spent a good part of my summer in limbo. As soon as last semester was over I deep-cleaned my house and packed up at least half of it. We got a contractor to finish the basement and waited for a buyer. Unfortunately, instead of the expected 6-8 weeks, it took 4 and 1/2 months and everyone who was interested wanted to wait until the basement was finished before they put in an offer. It was finished 2 days before we moved. (Don’t get me started on all the reasons that it shouldn’t take that long to put in a bathroom and walls.) The original plan was to live in our St. George house until it was sold, then roll over our equity into a place in the Denver area. We eventually decided that we just needed to take the plunge and get a temporary place in Colorado, because selling and then buying was not going to happen before school started.
When we came out for student orientation, we found a place, but after we got home it fell through. So I had to search for a new place. I chose campus housing because it was convenient, nice amenities, a new buildings and it was only temporary anyway. We didn’t actually see our apartment, but we got a floor plan and saw pictures of several model apartments. It seemed like a good choice.
The problem with packing up a big house is you know that it is a big task, but so much of it has to wait until the last minute. I spent a month and a half knowing that this painful event was coming, but only being able to pack and prepare so much because I still had to live there with my husband and three kids and I needed our stuff to function.
The week of move I started packing everything in earnest. And I have to say having a best friend to help in times like these makes everything better. One of my best friends, Julie came over to my house everyday. Just having someone to talk to helps menial labor not be so much drudgery, but here on the other side of the move I keep finding boxes that are labeled in her handwriting, and I think ‘I was not even thinking about packing this, I’m glad Julie had my back’. Before I left, I spent months thinking about how I have forged some really great friendships there and I will (am) sorely miss those people.
Big tasks like moving always involve hiccups that you didn’t plan. For example, I sent my husband to pick up our toddler’s birth certificate (which we hadn’t needed before that point), and discovered that someone at the state health department office had deemed that she should be male. That took a week and a half to resolve and the someone at the state office called and tried to blame the problem on us.
Moving is so emotional. I found myself going through so many objects that represented different versions of my former self. Sometimes random pieces of junk would nearly bring me to tears. Some days I would think ‘Rather than going somewhere new and transporting all of this stuff, maybe I’ll just stay right here.’ But I have always wanted to go back to school and I can’t chicken out now. Other things that should have sentimental value I was perfectly ready to throw in the recycling bin because every item that I don’t have to box up and transport is a small victory.
Moving makes me anxious and excited. I hardly slept that week, I’m still not back to a normal sleeping pattern. I have never driven that far. I’m usually the co-pilot on long trips, who reads books and makes sure that everyone has their snacks. Sometimes, I would get up at 1 am and just start cleaning and packing because I knew that sleep was completely evading me and lying in bed thinking about everything was not helping. This is may be the boldest thing I have ever done. I only know 3 people in the state of Colorado. I had lived in Utah since I was 9. It is pretty much the world that I knew, and I was going beyond that, to live somewhere that is different in thousands of ways. And I’m not just starting on this adventure myself, I’m dragging my kids and husband along for the ride. It’s a good thing too, I couldn’t make it without them. When I’m anxious, my husband always calms me down, and when I’m totally frazzled, my kids always make me laugh.
That Friday, Julie, her husband Josh, and four other friends helped us pack everything into the moving truck. Josh is a moving-artist. It is his super-power. I was amazed at how much stuff he managed to fit in there. We really thought we might need to get a second trailer to attach to the truck. For Josh filling moving trucks is like playing a 3-D Tetris. And we got it all loaded in about 3 hours. Except somehow the air mattresses that we were supposed to sleep on and I specifically set aside not to be packed, were packed. As was Thing 2’s bag of clothes was intended to last him a few days.
The plan was to leave early Saturday morning after doing a quick clean-up. We left by 1 pm. If we went straight from St George to Denver we would hit a major construction project where the tunnel was closed, and on the way to orientation we were parked on the freeway for over an hour. Besides those steep mountains don’t sound fun with a large moving truck. So on the first day we drove to Utah county and visited family. On the second day we drove north through Wyoming and turned south to Denver, avoiding the worst of the construction. This path was estimated to take 12 hours.
As far as driving, it wasn’t that bad. I had prepared bags of each of my kids and they were very well-behaved.
Until the last hour of the trip when the ipad died and Thing 2 made loud noises to entertain himself. The construction through Wyoming was worse than we suspected and that part of the journey took 11 hours, for a total of 15. The only major mishap in our car was that a semi in Wyoming wasn’t paying attention and ran us off the road. We were coming down hill on a 2 lane stretch of freeway. I was in the right lane driving at the speed limit and a double trailer semi was ahead of me in the left, driving below the speed limit. When there was less than ten feet between me and him he started moving into my lane without signalling. I drove off the road on the right to avoid his swinging rear trailer. Fortunately there was no physical or vehicular damage, but it sure got my heart racing for a bit. My husband had the worse end of the deal driving that beast of a truck at 55 miles per hour and then scratching it at a gas station. Fortunately we had insurance on it, but it made drop-off take 2 additional hours.
About a month before we moved I backed off the potty-training. I didn’t have the time encourage her every hour and she seemed just as happy to wear diapers. Except the day of our long trip. She was totally insistent on using the potty at every stop, which added fifteen minutes at every stop. The very first thing she did when we got to our new apartment, while I was scoping things out, was poop in the potty, a very first for her that completely unexpected.
The day we arrived, the apartment office closed at 5. With all of the construction I could tell we definitely were not going to make it. When I called weeks before and asked about this possibility, they assured me that they would have someone to let us into our building, we just should call by four and let them know the approximate time we would be there. The day of I called and they said that the person that should be able to let us in late was out of town, they would just leave our apartment unlocked with the keys inside.
When we arrived the apartment was 600 square feet smaller than our contract stated and there was NOWHERE to park the moving truck. Every space that was big enough to park a moving truck said “No Parking”. I could not find anyone to talk to about this issue (it was late on a Sunday evening). I fed the kids, tucked them in and spent four hours trying to find a place to legally park the truck with all of our belongings for the night. I talked to security at the closest ER and they said that we could leave it in an empty lot at the hospital. Just after midnight someone called and said “I don’t know who told you that you can park there, but you can’t park there. Construction starts in that parking lot at 6 am.” Fan-freaking-tastic. I then got a hold of campus security who told me where I could park, who later gave us 2 parking tickets for parking it exactly where we were told to. Seriously, it’s like no one who lives here comes with a moving truck full of stuff. And when we parked it next to our building to unload it, we got a long angry letter in red marker about how we can’t park it there.
On Monday after the office opened, they apologized about the mistake with our apartment. Apparently, there had been some error in the system and there were no apartments available as big as our contract stated. Seven hours later they got us an apartment in a different building that was 50 sq ft bigger than the first and gave us a garage and storage unit for free. Not being on the ground floor it took professional movers 6 hours to unload the truck. (Thing 2 was the best moving helper. I was surprised that he was determined to keep helping until we were done at 11:30 pm.) So the situation is doable, tight, but doable. We made it. I’m excited to be in school. The kids love that there are many things to do. Every day Cindy Lou Who wants to move back to St George so we can hang out with Julie in our big house. But right now, I can’t think of anything that could convince me to go through such a major moving experience again.