The day after the party, I woke up and drank one last civilized cup of coffee while my youngest played in the backyard. I lingered over it as long as I could, knowing it would be awhile before I drank coffee in my little green-and-blue folding plastic chair. I also knew life was about to get bat-shit crazy and balls-to-the-wall busy with what would probably be the most intense physical experience I'd ever endured.
In all honesty, even as hard as I thought it would be? It was harder.
My oldest and I worked all day to pack, sort, organize, and keep the two younger kids from killing each other or doing anything that would require emergency attention ("Ain't nobody got time for that," as the saying goes). She and I were in sync for possibly the first time ever, working together around the clock to accomplish the Herculean feat of packing up a household of four people and two dogs to move more than 1600 miles across the country. At one point, I got tired and decided to sleep for a few hours; when I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to get back at it, she stopped and went to sleep for awhile. I never would have been able to do what had to be done without her help, and I will remember her hard work and commitment until the day I die.
The movers showed up when I was only about 80% done packing, so I asked them to finish a few of the cabinets I had left (though not many). I almost cried when I realized I had already packed the coffee machine, and then I suffered another blow when it dawned on me that I couldn't even go buy coffee because I didn't want to leave the movers unattended at the house. They're about to load up all of my worldly belongings and drive 1600 miles with them, but I didn't want to leave them alone for five minutes? That should have been a big flashing neon sign, but in my sleep- and coffee-deprived state, I didn't see it.
Moving is moving, and anyone who has ever done it knows what it feels like to see all of your stuff sorted into efficient piles and stacks and loaded onto a truck. Every load that leaves the house gets you one step closer to wherever you're going next, which can feel exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. You see all the dust and grime underneath furniture that had been sitting in the same spot for almost ten years, and you wonder if there are places in your heart or soul that have accumulated the same amount of dust, grime, and general ickiness. You find things you thought were long gone and marvel at their survival--wow, I thought I lost this, but look! Here it is!
(Most remarkable to me was turning up an almost infinite number of pacifiers: mostly from the days when my youngest couldn't go two minutes without one, but also a few that I'm pretty sure hearken back to her older brother in the time right after we moved into that house. I thought of all the nights that I hunted in the dark for one of those blessed things to please, please, please get the baby to go back to sleep. They must have been mocking me from under the play kitchen or behind a bookshelf where I never would have looked in a million years.)
Slowly but surely, the house emptied out. There was still a lot left to do--we had to get ready for carpet cleaners, a Salvation Army pick up, and trash pick up the next morning--but the bulk of it was done. I initialed and signed all the endless moving sheets and tipped the movers, and then they left. We watched them pull out of the driveway, and then we went to grab something for dinner and take another load to Goodwill.
After we got back, I took a shower and realized that while I had carefully packed outfits for the road trip, I didn't have anything clean to change into right then except for a random mismatched running shirt and leggings I had once thrown into a backpack in an ambitious-but-unrealized attempt to work out while on vacation. I didn't have any clean underwear, so I went commando. I tried not to overanalyze the situation.
Then I realized my laptop was missing from the backpack where I found the clothes.
I have a tendency to misplace things, think they are lost, panic and freak out for a few minutes, and then find them safe and sound. I allowed myself the panic and freak out, thinking all equilibrium would be restored after a few minutes, only to discover that no, this time the item was truly gone. Since I had intentionally put it in the backpack earlier that morning and never touched it all day, and I knew the kids hadn't taken it anywhere, I came to the conclusion that one of the movers must have stolen it.
I did what anyone would do in that situation: I tried to contact the moving company and got a sketchy voicemail. I sent an email to some random address, wondering if the whole thing was a set up to steal IKEA furniture and a few antiques, and I would never see any of my stuff again. I gave up the laptop for lost and texted my friends my tale of woe.
They told me to call the police. Right. I had totally forgotten that might be an option.
That conversation started the wheels spinning in my head, and before I called the police, I used the "Find my i-Phone" app, and lo and behold, it pinpointed the location where my computer was attempting to log on to the internet. I called the police and gave them the information. An officer came over to the house, which inspired more than a little awe in my children.
Shortly afterwards, the moving company did respond to my email, and they tried to patronize me with, "Oh, people often think something got stolen, but it usually turns up on the truck. We'll look for it in the morning." My reply? "Yes, I'm sure people often do make that mistake. However, my computer just tried to log on to the internet from an apartment complex in the town where your offices are located. That means it isn't just sitting idly on a truck somewhere, and since I'm 20 miles away and am not the one using it, someone else has it. Perhaps you could go ahead and look into it right now. The police have the address and are on their way."
Long story short, the moving company representatives leaned on the guys who worked at our house and got the laptop back for me. When we found out which guy took it, my oldest daughter and I both said, "Him?! Really? He was the friendliest of the whole crew." The moving company reps acted like they wanted a medal for being so tough with the movers and returning the laptop; I just said, "Of course you freaked out on him, he fucking stole my computer. Thanks for getting it back, though." Lesson learned: some people can be assholes. Others can be tone deaf and annoying.
There's an episode of Sex and the City where one character (Samantha) tells off a doctor while wearing one of those humiliating gowns in an examining room. The narrator, Carrie, says something to the effect that it's hard to pull off righteous indignation while wearing an article of clothing that is made out of paper and shows your entire backside. Indeed, that would be a challenge.
But that was a fictional show. Try pulling off righteous indignation with first a police officer and later a moving company rep when you haven't slept in days, nor have you had access to coffee, and you are wearing mismatched workout gear and no underwear.
I realized I might be capable of getting through this after all.
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.