Imagine that a tornado hit a ghost town. Now, imagine that the ghost town was comprised entirely of books, pens, and paper. That is basically what my office looks like at the moment. Our dining room is now Box Town, inhabited by our dining room table, the DVD cabinet, and a whole bunch of boxes. All of said boxes are, or were (i.e., items slated for donation) mine. Apart from the boxes of stuff to donate, and what I haven’t been through yet, the boxes are neatly stacked, and labeled and sealed. The labels state what’s inside the box, and, in case the label is somehow separated from the box in the process, there is an identical label inside the box, as well. The label also says what room the box came from, which is usually, but not always, also its destination in the new apartment.
We are still in the process of securing said new apartment, so stay tuned for updates as they come. Right now, what we have is packing. A lot of packing. Mostly mine, because A) I am the one who works at home every day, so I am the one physically in the building the most, to be able to put stuff in boxes, and B) I am awesome at organizing. Also, C) I am bossy , um, I mean, I have strong leadership skills.
This is why my involvement in packing Real Life Romance Hero’s and Housemate’s things will consist of pointing them towards boxes, tape, and Sharpies. Default answer to “where does X go?” is “storage.” Regardless of where we’re going, we are blowing this popsicle stand on the fifteenth, and, if we’re going to get there in decent shape, we have to work like a well oiled machine.
This whole moving business reminds me of writing,. not that oddly enough. Here are a few things I’ve learned thus far:
- Putting away favorite things is hard. This one feels obvious, but needs stating anyway. Yesterday, I bit the bullet and boxed my favorite-favorite books. While moving while anxious is a whole new level of stress anyway, knowing that I won’t have my books in their shelves for the next two weeks, when I am going to be stressed the heck out cranks things up a level. Ditto for packing my art supplies. Putting favorite things away sucks, but it’s also a full commitment to closing this chapter and starting another. One the books are in boxes, there is no going back.
- More, lighter boxes. This goes with the above lesson. Books are heavy. Paper is heavy. Lugging unliftable boxes is not good for anybody’s back. The new protocol is thus: pack box halfway full of books/paper, then fill the space with lighter, softer things, like fuzzy throws/pillows, or stuffed animals, heavy sweaters, etc. Balance the heavy stuff with lighter, warmer stuff. Works in writing as well as in moving.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. There will be a lot of small stuff. The big stuff is more important. Put the small stuff together, pick one time to deal with it as a whole, and pack it or toss it as needed. Small things can fit inside big things, so they don’t get lost.
- Pack your own area. This refers to my point above. Nobody knows how to pack your things like you do. Does it matter to how Housemate is packing her personal items? No, because they are not mine. The method that works for her may not make sense to me, and vice versa. In short, head down, and eyes on my own paper.
- You need more tape. Doesn’t matter how much tape you have, or think you’ll need. You need more. Those box bottoms need to be secure, unless watching collectible, out of print books cascade down one or more staircases like a paginated waterfall is your idea of fun. If so, then feel free to fold flaps under and leave it like that. For the rest of us, we need more tape, or the bottom will fall out and spill everything. Also, packing tape is going to shred. That is a fact of life. Folding over the end of the strip (I like a forty-five degree angle, to make a triangular pull tab) is, however, a valid workaround.
- You’re done when you’re done. As tempting as it may be to leave piles of junk in one’s wake, that’s not going to fly in moving, or in writing. Everything has to go somewhere, even if that “somewhere” is the trash. Keep, sell, donate, trash; it doesn’t have to go home, but it can’t stay here. Okay, when moving, technically, the stuff is going home, but work with me here. In writing, the story question has to be answered. For romance, this means the lovers need to end up together, and happy about it. If either one of those isn’t in place by the end of the manuscript, that means the job isn’t done.
- The job will, at one point, be done. There’s nothing for a writer like typing those two magic words, the end. With moving, that translates to bringing those boxes to the new place, wherever that may be, and slicking through the tape, opening the cardboard flaps, and putting everything where it belongs, once again. There’s the moment of saying “okay, that’s everything,” flopping down on the nearest piece of soft furniture, and realizing that one is home now. A different home, to be sure, and, maybe, there will be another move in the future, but moved-in is its own special satisfaction. It’s also a darned good motivator when surrounded by boxes and dust, one eye on the ticking clock. Every step is one step closer to done.
With that in mind, I think I can handle the ghost town phase.