Usually if you're really stressed or anxious about some event, once it arrives you realise there wasn't anything to stress about. Not the case for the move from my rented apartment to the new place.
After painting all weekend, I got on with the job of packing each evening with the move booked in for Thursday. I still had a lot to do on Tuesday night, so I cancelled my freelance engagements for Wednesday and spent the whole day packing. Every single moment was spent putting things into boxes. Earlier in the day I bargained with myself: if I could get everything packed by around 7pm I'd let myself go to the movies as a destress. Well, it took a great deal longer than I had imagined and I was still frantically packing until about 9pm. At every turn it seemed I had forgotten a cupboard or hiding space. Under the bed. The cupboard behind the bathroom door with the vacuum cleaner. The kitchen. No movies for me.
Thankfully I had decided to rent moving boxes weeks ago, so I had loads of blue corrugated plastic boxes dropped off to my house. If I had to keep running around to shops to ask for boxes the pack simply wouldn't have been completed in time. Even better, you book in a return date and they come and pick up all the boxes from your new house. What a dream. This service is cheap if you value your time and dignity.
The removalists arrived the next day right on midday. As when I moved in, I recommended they pull into the dirty laneway behind the building. Unlike when I moved in, the laneway was being used by a team of builders for another building, so there was a lot of time wasted while they moved the truck in and out of the laneway. Even so, with three removalists on the job, I was surprised as the hours slipped away and apartment barely looked touched. I was up in the apartment assisting with the wrapping of furniture when one of the men said "There are some weirdos hanging around your stuff down there, you might want to go down." I went downstairs to find a load of my stuff spread across the laneway - not loaded on the truck - with randoms walking throughout it. Even my piano was leaning up against the side of another building. In a dirty laneway. In the roughest part of the CBD. I was freaking out.
There was a long, greasy-haired guy who seemed pretty content to chain smoke and sit right amongst my stuff all afternoon. He also ate some food, but spread the rest of it across the laneway, which was super helpful. He didn't seem to mind being in the way at all. I stared him down and telepathically told him that if he tried anything my stress levels would pump me so full of adrenaline that I might just take him on. At the other end of the laneway, another man had taken off his shirt and was screaming at passers-by. Soon the police showed up to try to calm him down. All I could do was stand back and watch the removalists wheel my washing machine through this carnival of crazy.
In the end it took three men four hours to empty my apartment (and it took some convincing and eventually demonstration to get them to take my washing machine). It was now 4pm and I hadn't eaten, nor really inhaled, since 8am. I started to walk to the new place and stopped off at a McDonalds on the way. Unlike most people, I can't eat in times of stress (it's not a blessing, it's a curse because it leaves me very open to fainting), so I had managed only three bites of a chicken burger when the removalists arrived at the new apartment. I was coming to terms with the fact that this move was going to cost a lot more than I had expected, and I made a note to investigate fixed cost removalists next time, hopefully far in the future.
I still had one, big stress. I was worried that my year-old couch wouldn't fit through the right angled corridor of the new apartment. Even at the old place it had to enter and leave via the fire escape rather than the front entrance. The couch had been on my mind for weeks, and my anxiety wasn't going to go away until that couch was in the apartment.
The guys rushed everything in. Better parking and a bigger lift meant it took just over half the time to unload. I stayed in the apartment unwrapping all the furniture they had wrapped so they could take their blankets and bubblewrap when they left. I even unwrapped the piano, bolted on the legs and flipped it upright. The piano weights 110kg, proving my point that the long-haired, chain smoking layabout was best not to try my patience today. On the second last lift load, one of the guys said "Your couch doesn't fit in the lift." I hadn't expected this. I thought the lift would be fine. My new apartment was on the ninth floor. I hadn't planned for this. I asked what my options were. They said they could carry it up the 9 floors, but they had another job to go to, so they'd have to come back later that night, around 10pm to do it. The removalists left around 6:30pm.
With the couch unresolved, I was still a ball of anxiety and exhaustion, and now that all the motion had stopped it weirdly pivoted into depression. I was sad, and I couldn't work out why. I wondered if it was because I felt I had made a mistake, or if I really loved the last apartment. Surely it couldn't be the latter - the day's parade of bad choices hanging out in the laneway should have cured that. Perhaps it was that this was the first time I'd moved alone. Even the first time, when I moved out of home my brother had helped load up the ute with my few possessions. Likely it was just an exhaustion cry, but I still couldn't bear the thought that my couch would be carried up 9 storeys and then get jammed up in the hallway. I didn't know what I would do at that point, but it would definitely involved hysterical sobbing.
I spoke to my mum on the phone and told her my situation. I floated an idea: what if I just sent it back to my old apartment. I knew it could fit in there, and I still had the keys for another week. I could try to sell the couch and buy a new one for this apartment. The more I thought about it, it was the only option I could emotionally handle. It took away the risk, it just meant I had to go back to the old apartment later that night and extended my day. Visions of me, as Joan Crawford, screaming "Bring me the axe!" as face cream slopped off my face before hacking away at my couch in the narrow hallway were all I could see. I just couldn't take it.
I texted the removalist and told him of the change of plans. I bet they were relieved they only had to carry the couch 4 floors rather than 9.
I went back to the apartment around 9:30pm, ate three slices of pizza, and awaited the removalists. I made the terrible mistake of sitting in the laneway late at night with the fire escape door open. I was the flame to which the many, stoned, off their faces moths flocked. One guy tried to sell me a photocopied page of words for $5, and then told me he could vibrate through concrete. I asked him not to try because I didn't want to be waiting around for an ambulance. As soon as I got a break, I ducked back inside and waited for the removalists behind the safety of a fire door.
It was after 11pm by the time the couch was dealt with and I could finally head to my new home to sleep. Chris (of Christopher Doesn't Live Here Anymore - so he knows a thing or two about moving) had told me, during the sadness, that I should make my bed. Nothing else was important on the first night, I just needed somewhere to sleep. Having taken his advice I crawled into bed and dozed off sometime about 1am vowing that next time I move, I'll only taking a backpack.