Yesterday was moving day from the apartment where Diminutive Roommate and I have been living for three years to a new place with a new third roommate just a mile to the east.
With a big event like a move, something’s gonna go wrong. This move demonstrated Murphy’s Law too well at times.
Wednesday, August 31st: The day before the move
I got an IM from Diminutive Roommate saying that everyone except me had failed to sign one random page of the lease, and that we couldn’t get the keys for the new place without it. Bear in mind that this is the same management who failed to check that we had signed each page when I delivered the lease (although, to be fair, we didn’t check either), and who refused to give us the keys the night before because our lease didn’t start until the 1st. Of course, their office didn’t open until 9am, so even though we were officially on the lease, we would have to wait for their office to open to get the keys. So instead of “wrongly” having the keys from 6pm (when their office closed) to midnight, they would withhold them from us from midnight to 9am on the 1st. Or we could pay $85 for one day of pro-rated rent. I smell bullshit. We planned to pick up the keys first thing in the morning and hope for the best.
I got home on the 31st, said hi to Calico, wandered down the hall to my room, flicked on the light, and… wait, why isn’t the light coming on? *click, click, click, click* No light. I went back to the front door to see if the building’s lights were on in the hall (yes). I flicked the light switch in the kitchen to see if the problem was localized to my room (nope). I sighed, and chuckled, and called Diminutive Roommate:
“Hey there, just calling to see how you’re doing, and make sure that page got signed by everyone, and we’re good to go for tomorrow, although if you needed help with it I guess you would have called me. Uh… oh, by the way (haha!), when did you arrange for the power to be turned off here? Cus there’s a little surprise for you when you get home! Call me!”
I ate some melty ice cream, and frowned at the two wedges of brie that had been sitting in a dark, un-powered refrigerator all day. As prepared as we were, there was still work to do. I did that eyelid-fluttering mind-search that helps me remember things, and went straight to the box where I had packed the candles (win!). I packed the last of my junk amid some flickering, romantic lighting, did some packing in the kitchen, and realized at 830pm that I hadn’t had dinner. I drove around looking for a post office drop box to leave our cable box in, then arrived at Fancy-pants Farms to get a sammich only to discover them 10 minutes past closing. I crash-landed in a CPK booth instead, and had a nice chat with the waiter who enjoyed The Hobbit more than the following Lord of the Rings trilogy (disagree). Diminutive Roommate finally got back to me after two and a half hours of calling and texting. Drove home to find her mulling around in the dark. We agreed we had done all we could, and hit the sack.
Thursday, September 1st: The day of the move
I wake up around 7 before the alarm and can’t get back to sleep (too excited/ready for it to start the move so it can be over). Melissa leaves around 815am to get keys and garage clickers from management. I finish packing up, and pace around while the movers arrive a half-hour late, and seem to move in slow motion once they arrive. At one point, time seemed to flash to a halt and balance on fine point in the exact spot where I sat. I could feel each second pass like dripping water, and the expanse of the hours before the move would be done stretched out before me as a vast ocean of carboard boxes and the smell of moving blankets. It was a low point in my day.
Diminutive Roommate takes her garage clicker to the new place to test it. The owners of our old apartment building, an older couple, come by with the manager (let’s call him Melty-face) to check out the apartment. They seem nice enough. I tell them about how my dehumidifier pulled one cup of water out of the air per hour in my room alone. The lady looks shocked, and asks if I left the window open during the rain. I said no, and that the moisture might be in the walls, because we didn’t know where it was coming from. She didn’t like the sound of that. Not. One. Bit.
Meanwhile I had missed a text from Diminutive Roommate regarding her garage clicker: it won’t work. She slouches into the kitchen minutes later, and I decide what I need to get back into the game is a quick verbal sparring match with our new management (who couldn’t give us the keys six hours early, but was kind enough to screw up our garage clickers). I bid a final farewell to our old apartment, and drive a mile east with all our artwork wrapped in brown paper in the back of my little Fiat. Boyfriend and I try both clickers in every combination possible to no avail. I call management (let’s call them Overworked Equities).
lady: Overworked Equities.
me: Hi, I’m moving into [address redacted] today, and the garage clickers we picked up this morning aren’t working.
lady: Ok, you’ll have to come in and pick up two new ones.
me: …Absolutely not. Our movers will be here in 20 minutes. You need to find another solution. I’m not driving all the way to your office.
lady: *sigh* Ok, well, uh… ok hold on.
After being bounced around I finally get hold of a guy who speed-talks me through the problem, and says someone will be by in 20 minutes to fix it.
Ten minutes after our movers arrive, a guy comes and opens the gate after fiddling with it and referring to several pages of numbers (“This code isn’t working. They must have changed it without telling me.”). The movers make extensive use of the freight elevator, which one coupled set of tattooed Hispanic residents did not like. The lady asked me if the movers were emptying the elevator and staging everything in the hall first, or moving things one by one, “because that’s slow, and I gotta move my stuff from storage 3 to storage 1.” Thanks for the warm welcome!
Over the course of the move, even when we ran into problems, I kept a pretty up-beat attitude. It wasn’t hard; we were so close to finally getting into our new place. I got short with Boyfriend once (he was being contrarian), but otherwise had maintained a good, positive drive. But it was not to last.
My father is sort of a Renaissance man. He’s a lawyer who grew up on sailing and canoeing teams in Hawai’i, loves to hike and navigate the wild, has quite a green thumb, and is currently rebuilding some derelict stairs on the hill behind his house (like a pro). At our house growing up, he had a garage which he converted to a workshop where he could typically be found late at night working on something or another. I have fond and powerful memories of spending time there in the summer. The concrete was always cool on my feet. He built a bench for Sister and I to stand on so we could “help” him on projects. The smell of sawdust, the sound of a table saw, the sound of a plane on wood were all visceral experiences for me, and I smile even now thinking about it.
Dad built a hutch out of ash in that workshop while I was a kid. Dad always said, “Ash is known as the poor man’s oak,” meaning it was cheaper than oak, but just as sturdy. He did all the dovetail joints himself with a chisel. The handles on the doors and drawers are solid brass, shiny and smooth. It’s the closest thing we have to a family heirloom, and it weighs roughly a ton. It’s never been an easy piece of furniture to move, and this time was no different.
There’s a sharp turn from one hallway to another into my room in the new apartment. The movers took one look at it and said, “It’s not gonna fit.” My heart sank. Then they tried, and it didn’t fit. We stood in the living room discussing where to put it. “You want it there? That’s a good spot,” one of them offered. I held up a finger to ask them to wait, walked down the hall into my room, and burst into tears. Boyfriend came in to tell me something, and instead asked me what was wrong. “If the hutch can’t fit into my room, I don’t know what I’m going to do.” I had reached the end of my rope. This problem was just too much for me to handle. Where would I put my clothes? This beautiful chest my father made for Sister and me as kids would sit in the living room like a common piece of furniture instead of being safely stationed in my bedroom where I could look at it everyday and feel love for it (and from it). My chest hurt. I sat on the floor and cried like a child.
Boyfriend went into problem-solving work mode, and began inspecting the window. “I can pop this screen right off. I’m gonna measure it. I think it could fit. Do you want to ask the movers to try that?” Neither of us thought they’d be game to try putting a giant, heavy piece of furniture through a window. I looked up from my spot on the floor and shook my head, “Will you ask them?” Boyfriend did, and they tried it, and it worked. The hutch stands in my room now, facing the bed, holding my books and clothes just like it should. Heart mended, I got back to work.
After some more sweating and shuffling around the mess we’d made in the living room, I asked Boyfriend to go grab some In-n-Out for us and the movers so I could stay and coordinate. We moved some boxes out of the way and made room at the kitchen table for a meal. Boyfriend arrived with the food just as they brought in the plaid couch. We didn’t realize how hungry we were until we started eating. The van was empty, we were all full of food, and the mover said he would like cash (even though their website said they took credit card). I drove to an ATM, counted out the cash, signed his papers, went upstairs, and unpacked my room for the next six hours until all that was left was the computer. It was finally time to sleep.
My current room is about a third smaller than my last, which I’m surprisingly happy about. I thought I would feel cramped, but looking back, my room always felt a little hollow. I have less furniture in my current room, but it feels roomier somehow. There’s a nice central open area in the middle, the closet isn’t packed to the gills, my bookshelf is organized, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it start getting all cluttered. And I’m changing out the damn vertical blinds for something that blacks out that damn exterior hall light.
In other news my roommates are awesome. We shared a beer and some Indian food from Samosa House (best vegetarian food ever). I’m feeling good about this whole setup.