Preparing for a long distance move #744

#744 in a series of true experiences in real estate

We walked through each room of Mary’s house with her the afternoon before she would fly away to her new life adventure. The movers had already taken furniture and boxes of belongings and what was left was a mixture of this and that. In a box in the bedroom hall Mary paused to see what was inside. First a red blouse, then a sculpted stone piece in the shape of a sleeping cat and a couple of small mottled rocks picked up once on a walk.

“Oh, my mom’s cat, a little scratched up but that’s ok, and these rocks, I need these,” Mary said, and so we carried them along with us into the master bedroom. In the closet was a colorful group of plastic hangers. Mary thought she would take those along with her, and then, a partially full box of Glad bags – “might as well” – so we carried these, too.

I think she was exhausted. Mary has been working on this move to North Carolina for years, actually: visiting and staying for awhile there, thinking, dreaming, and then, six months or so ago, deciding. Yes, a good place to go, neighborly, good weather, pretty country side, nice people. Mary’s husband has died and her daughter has grown up. North Carolina is an excellent selection.

She’d looked for houses for sale and found one in a likeable neighborhood, college students next door, a wood-sided house with a full-width front porch for sitting, sipping and greeting passers by.

Finding the house was a big start. But now there was the business of moving, always huge. Everyone underestimates it. We all have so many things we have brought into our houses, some precious, many are not, or at least not to us anymore. It took Mary several months to go through the contents of her attic space, closets, garage, and under-house storage.

It’s a difficult chore because so many decisions are needed in very many categories: canned, bottled and frozen foods, cleaning supplies and tools, clothes and shoes, garden and camping equipment, pet toys and such, electronics and books, old phonograph records and newer versions, books, inherited belongings, and paper. Dizzying quantities of accumulated bills and receipts and cancelled checks, little-kid drawings, health and auto records, and more.

After awhile, it’s all-around easier to put whatever it is in boxes and take it wherever you are going. Mary loves magazines, all sorts and subjects, many of which she had moved with her 10 years ago. There were in her house, neatly sorted and stacked by year, thousands of magazines. Maybe the hardest task of the move for Mary was deciding which magazines she could part with, give away or recycle, and which she would take.

At the suggestion of a friend, Mary hired a woman to help her sort and pack. It cost her less than having the moving company pack and allowed the opportunity to look at and choose what went into the boxes. She called long-distance movers to get estimates and settled on one. She had to go to the city to get a permit for the moving truck, something we had never heard of before. Seems that trucks larger than a certain size or weighing more than the standard must have a permit to travel on residential streets.

Through a referral from the moving company, she arranged to have her car driven to NC, and this was how she would get those last minute items she’d picked up in the house moved, too. She was allowed 100 lbs. of belongings in the car. That afternoon it was filling up fast.

Mary would fly, which left only how to get her cats moved. Mary has two cats, both lean and lanky, yellow shorthairs, both male, both named Nancy, which Mary explained a couple of times, but I never did understand. Through their regular vet, Mary was able to arrange for both Nancys to be crated and considerately flown (not in the cold under-hatch of the airplane).

As we walked through the rooms that afternoon talking and collecting, Mary was telling us the disposition of various remaining possessions: Her gardener would be picking up the unused fencing, her nephew wants the old upright piano, Mary’s daughter planned to have a garage sale next weekend. Just then one of us noticed the time. The Nancys are going to be late unless Mary gets in gear immediately.

Hurry, hurry, get the carrier, get cats in carrier, get carrier into car already overloaded with house findings. After the cats are taken care of, the car has to be delivered tonight. “Where did I write down where I’m taking the car?” Mary asks, and for the first time that day there was a little panic in her voice. “Maybe I’ve got it on my laptop. I’ll check when I’m at the vet’s.”

We hug, we wish well, we promise to take care of everything. She’s off.

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