Packing up all your belongings and moving to another part of town or the country is, at best, a stressful experience. Anyone who has undergone this misery even once knows how lucky he is to have made it to his new residence still able to speak in complete sentences. Having lived in seven states for a total of fourteen moves (so far) I can solemnly swear that this ordeal is not for the faint of heart.
Moving out is only half the problem. Once you get used to hearing expressions such as, “We need to load the fridge now, lady. Are you done cleaning it yet?” and “Careful-l-l-l, careful-l-l-l. Oops! Sorry, Mac,” —interspersed with more than a few moments of panic (“They packed the dog?!!!”)—you are pretty well prepared for the next horror: moving in. It’s a day of lost articles (“They can’t find the piano?!!!”) and lost minds. When the van has finally pulled away you are left to contemplate the overwhelming exercise it has been—a kind of pandemonium on steroids—and there’s still the business of unpacking. Valium, anyone?
Depending on the circumstances, some of the unpacking may be done in stages or even not at all. Once, after moving to Long Island, New York, we stored numerous boxes of our belongings in the basement. Fifteen months later we were transferred to Tampa, Florida, before we got them unpacked. It’s amazing what you can learn to live without—and think of all the work we saved in New York . A few years later we lived in a small rental house we owned while building our dream house. For months we navigated winding paths through mountains of cardboard as we made our way from room to room. I repeated this process twice during the years I lived in Tucson, Arizona, where my animals and I lived like lab rats in a cardboard maze.
Eventually, longing for rain and grass again (perhaps the consequence of my English heritage), I moved to north Texas. While I had sold lots of furniture and other items beforehand, I still had a few dozen boxes crammed into closets and stacked in bedroom corners. Trying to clear some space, I finally began repacking and organizing them. I should have left well enough alone.
In one closet the boxes were packed so tightly I had to empty them where they sat before moving them. One, a large wardrobe box, was filled with baskets, blankets, and heavy rugs. I removed most of the contents with little trouble but, in order to reach some rugs on the bottom, I had to climb a step stool and lean down into the box. Down to the last rug, I stretched and squirmed and grunted, then stretched some more. “One more inch. Just . . . one . . . more . . .” FWUMPP! Now the blanket wasn’t the only thing folded up in that box! There I was, upside down with my head turned sideways and jammed into a corner and my arms and shoulders crumpled up around it like a retaining wall. My torso angled toward the opposite corner and my legs, forming a vee, flopped to and fro from the knees. I felt like an unhatched baby chick stuffed into an eggshell. Taking stock of my situation, I thought to myself, “Now this is a stupid way to die.” How pointless, how embarrassing to be found a-mouldering away upside down in a wardrobe box! I wasn’t panicking; I just couldn’t bear the humiliation. Why, I’d just die!
(Will WES escape? Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.)
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