At some point a few weeks ago I made a promise to myself: “There will come a weekend where I don’t have to drive multiple times back and forth on that route from Ballard to Shoreline.” Back in April when I first checked the address on a map, I was delighted that it was so close to the home of good friends. I knew most of the route quite well! Driving up for the appointment to look at the place and decide whether to apply for it wasn’t just familiar, it was comfortable. Driving the route had usually meant we were on our way to spending time with good friends. It was merely 25 minutes each way! But after we signed the lease the route soon became something else. The first weekend we drove the route back and forth at least 9 times. And just about every work night the following week I made the trip at least once.
I’d come home from work, load up the car, drive to new place, unload the car, then possibly do a couple of small things before driving back. While I was out Michael would be packing more boxes. Once I got home I would usually start packing, too. Sometimes I would simply load up the car and drive up again. Then the next weekend it was multiple trips every day again. Until the day of the big move, and we started sleeping at the new place. Then my routine became come home from work, hop in the car and drive back to the old place to pack more little things and/or clean. And so on. Thus did the once familiar and happy-making route become a dreaded chore.
We managed to take at least one night off each week. One night where each of us came home from work and did virtually no packing and there was absolutely no driving back and forth. I didn’t always skip any and all moving activity on the night off. Just not having to spend that time—nearly on hour—in transit was quite a relief.
A couple of weekends ago, when I said to some friends how much I was looking forward to the weekend that I knew would arrive eventually when I didn’t have to drive that route again and again, one friend shuddered and said, “Oh! I know that feeling. Believe me!”
It isn’t fun…
The laughable part is that since December, when we learned that we would definitely have to move, I kept having these moments of soppy nostalgia: this is one of the last times I’ll walk past these houses, or some day I won’t think of this block of this street as mine. For two decades turning that corner into 57th Street would fill me with happiness or relief: I’m almost home!!! Whereas the last few weeks the same corner signaled several hours of cleaning or hauling junk away or making decisions about what to keep and what to pitch.
Technically, we unlocked the achievement last Tuesday. That’s the day I did the last walkthrough of the completely empty apartment, looked around and with a sigh said, “We’re done!” We drove home. Not a drive to the new place–it was a drive home–and sent a message to the property manager asking how he wanted to handle the hand-off of the keys. But it didn’t feel real until late Monday night. We’d gotten through a weekend–a three-day weekend–without driving that specific route even once!
Make no mistake, we had a very busy weekend. I ran a bunch of errands Saturday. Then Michael and I drove to Woodinville to return the borrowed rug cleaner to our friend Matt. Then back toward home and a stop at Value Village where we found the perfect pair of smaller tables to replace the big old end tables that were hand-me-downs from my late husband’s sister 22 years ago. That meant that Sunday morning I hauled the old tables (and a bunch of other things) to Value Village to donate. Then we dropped off a bunch of leftover cleaning chemicals and the like at the county household hazardous materials facility before driving to Renton to buy several pieces of new furniture to replace other old things.
Then there was new furniture to assemble, more boxes to unpack, and another trip to drop off things at Value Village. I unpacked and shelved at least eight more boxes of books. Michael unpacked and put away a bunch, too. I started the task of going through the rest of our Christmas ornaments and picking more to get rid off.
Friends keep being shocked that we aren’t done unpacking books. “I thought you gave a bunch away?” Yes. We donated hundreds of paperbacks to one charity. A similar number of hardbacks we either sold to a second hand book store or donated. Yes, we got rid of hundreds of books.
But we had thousands–several thousands–to begin with. So getting rid of hundreds made a dent, but that’s all it is! The first day after we started sleeping at the new house, I opened 43 boxes of books and shelved them. In the following weeks, between us, a couple dozen more boxes of books have been unboxed and shelved. So the 8+ boxes of books this weekend represent a tiny fraction of the collection.
We’re trying to organize the books a bit better than they were. Michael suggested all the non-fiction and reference go into the book cases in the living room, for instance. All the sci fi is going into one side of the computer room. The fantasy is going into the other. So when a couple weeks ago I had three and three-quarters shelves of dictionaries and thesauruses, I thought, “Okay, four shelves of dictionaries–not bad!”
There was a point yesterday afternoon where I realized that four shelves was not enough. No matter how I shuffled and rearranged, I had two more specialty dictionaries, a thesaurus, and an old first edition that I couldn’t squeeze in. So I had to move the biographies and similar to a different shelf and start a fifth dictionary shelf. And then I found two dictionaries I’d misshelved weeks ago with the writing advice & style books. And another dictionary in another box.
Back when we were packing and packing books, my friend Jeri Lynne told the story of a relative who had freaked out at how many books she owned. “You know,” the relative had said, “there are these wonderful places called ‘libraries’ where you can take the books back after you read them.”
Jeri Lynne replied, “I know libraries are fabulous magical places! That’s why I want to live in one!” And she had a gleam in her eyes that I recognize quite well.
Yeah, we live in a library. And it’s awesome!