Twenty-five years after moving to Olympia, I have recently completed a move to a smaller house in a different neighborhood. I've been completely absorbed in this move for more than two months, and have hardly noticed what's been going on in the rest of the world. (I think I heard something about an oil leak and a soccer tournament.)
As I reflect on my move, what strikes me the most, besides the multitude of boxes scattered about my living room floor, is the help of relatives, friends and strangers who made this undertaking possible. It took a village to move a household.
This is the big “downsizing.” I wasn’t too successful at completing the cleaning out phase before the move, so I am sorting and tossing now, and with every box I open, I am so appreciative of the friends and relations who took the time to help me clean, paint, pack, and move. (Now – if I could just find my toaster!)
It’s a fairly intimate task – packing up a friend’s bookshelves, cupboards, closets and drawers. My friends discovered that I have accumulated and saved way too much stuff. Helping with a move can also be a messy job. One friend and her husband took on the task of gathering and moving all the outdoor items, including potted plants, hoses, and old flower pots filled with old soil. Another couple tackled the impossible job of sorting out 25 years’ worth of paints, solvents, nails, tools, and miscellaneous from the garage, identifying which items needed to go to the hazardous waste depository, which items should be donated, and which could be moved to the new house.
Others carried many heavy boxes, made multiple trips to the new house, and through it all remained cheerful and supportive. On the last day of the move, one friend made multiple runs to the dump and to Habitat for Humanity, and my nephew and brother came over and loaded up a few last-minute items that didn’t fit in my car. These helpers were there with me until the moment that I handed over the keys of the old house to the new owners.
Besides the friends and relations, there were a lot of community members who did their part to make this transition possible. Although you might say they were just doing their job, it’s important to note that almost without exception, these professionals provided their services with respect, individual attention and integrity. Moving can be overwhelming and stressful even if it’s undertaken by choice, and timely and effective assistance by professionals can make all the difference.
Some of the professionals who were involved with my move at various points included two Realtors, an escrow manager, a home inspector, two contractors, my insurance agent, an electrician, a city sewer manager and a post office supervisor. Other workers included two clerks at city utilities, a chimney inspector, two house cleaners, a sewer line rooter technician, a cable company installer and two professional movers.
I was so appreciative when these various professionals made time in their schedules to meet my needs, and showed up when they said they would; I found myself frequently ending conversations with, “I appreciate your help.” To them I may have been just another customer, but to me they were an essential link in a momentous personal undertaking.
I have emerged from my cocoon of transition just in time to receive news of truly profound consequence: My son and daughter-in-law have given birth to my first grandchild. Now let’s see – I know there was a box of baby stuff somewhere!
Alice M. Curtis, a member of the Olympian Board of Contributors, is a school social worker and social justice advocate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.