Friday, September 2, 2011

The cup holder problem

Moving to another country, let alone another country across the vast Atlantic is not a simple task to undertake. We have been lucky to have the majority of the related expenses paid, including having a set of moving people come and disassemble our furniture, pack everything up in your apartment, load it into a container and send it off, through the Panama Canal. We hope that on the other end, another set of moving people will carry the stuff up to the new apartment, open up the crates and put the furniture back together again. On the surface this seems like a great service and I was happy to have it for the first time of my life, after having moved 15+ times, always packing my own boxes. However, I quickly realized that it was not just the packing of boxes that was important but the judgement of what needed to be boxed and moved, vs. the stuff that needed to be sold or tossed. See, moving a $20 Ikea lamp from the US to Europe makes absolutely no sense because not only would the lamp not work with European bulbs (which are apparently 0.4 cm wider than the US bulbs) or European current, but the cost of moving it would also exceed the cost of buying a new one in a European Ikea. Combined with the fact that I never really liked this lamp and that it was bought merely as a 'transition' lamp (like so many other household items...) meant that it was not to be packed. Multiply that with 50 because we also had kitchen appliances that would not work in Europe, even with a transformer, include pre-pregnancy clothes that I really thought I would fit into by now but which I really should just part with, and you have at least 4 days work. Add to that a nosy little toddler who likes to take out all items I put in a box and who specialize in taking items and putting them somewhere strange (what is your little shoe doing in the cupboard? No, mommy's book does not go in the bathroom drawer), and you have about 8 evenings worth of hard work.

I approached the task with rigor, writing lists, sorting things out beginning one month prior to our big move. For two weeks this was all I could talk about, frequently asking Mark what he thought: Should I bring both of Zoe's duvets or just the small one? Should we keep the big lamp that I loved, but which would need rewiring in Europe? Would it make sense to ship the $1 wine glasses that we never used? He eventually got really annoyed and we snapped at each other, he accusing me of worrying too much and me accusing him of not helping out with the decisions. Instead he kept talking about more abstract things such as the fact that we still hadn't heard from the estate agent in London in terms of where we could pick up keys to our flat, things we couldn't do much about other than try to call them during opening hours (which was never when he expressed his concern). Eventually we found a middle way, me managing most of the household stuff, putting lamps on craigslist, him endlessly surfing the internet for estate agent news and, to his credit, showing and finally selling the car.

Almost everything was ready a few days before the movers arrived, now I just needed pack and decide what things we could not live without for 2 months. It was tough, but I managed to squeeze everything for Zoe and me (Mark took care of his own stuff) into a large suitcase weighing 71 pounds. This was clothes (including light winter clothes, we won't see our boxes before November the earliest), two of Zoe's favorite teddybears, important papers such as immunization records, an inflatable tub for Zoe, two books for me and her cup and bowl. We were also bringing her small collapsable stroller in a separate cover so we could check it in.

For some reason those last days of packing melted into one another with us trying to make the most of it, seeing people for goodbye dinners, goodbye brunches and goodbye drinks. The Friday before the movers were coming Saturday morning was the most difficult day because Zoe had to say goodbye to her lovely nanny, something I still cannot even write about without getting tears in my eyes, and something that is worth a whole other post. I was in a blur, trying to finish some work, managing a new study (yeah, I had just started a new study 2 weeks before we moved, how smart was that?) and on top of that we sold our car, so I had to look after Zoe while cooking for the dinner party we held for our nanny that very evening. When our guests finally left just before midnight I realized that I still had to label everything that the movers were not to take, such as still unsold lamps, suitcases and furniture we were getting rid of. Mark went to bed and left me to it; around 2 am I tumbled into bed, my head still spinning, hoping for the best.

Zoe and the all-important cupholder
The moving men were nice and seemed a lot more professional and meticulous than I had expected. They asked for each item that was not clear, I explained that no electric appliances were to be taken, except of course for the ones that were actually going (our large nice lamp, which we would be rewiring) and they went about their packing tasks. Meanwhile I realized that it was not entirely safe to have a toddler running around, picking up their power drills (NO ZOE, those screws are not for eating!) and generally being in the way of big men with big boxes. Mark took her out in the stroller, leaving me to guide the movers and relax a bit.

Flash forward to the evening where Mark had handed over the car to its new owners and finally, the movers had emptied the apartment and left us with the bare minimum to live with for the remaining two days. We went out to goodbye dinner with a couple of friends and were having a relaxing conversation when I suddenly realized, getting a chill down my back, that when I had put Zoe in the stroller so Mark could take her out that morning, I had taken off the cup holder because I knew he hated it (it was apparently in the way of his hand), and put it in the coat closet. The coat closet where the movers had packed everything from, including cup holder. How could I be taking Zoe for walks around London without a cup holder? How could I get my caffeine fix now? I interrupted everyone with my serious realization to the laugh of particularly Mark who did not share my distraughtness. After a bit of grumpiness from my side, he looked at me and said: If that is the worst thing that went wrong today, then we are pretty well off aren't we. And I agreed. We dubbed these small problems that we deal with 'cup holder problems', which reminds us everyday that we are so lucky to have what we have in terms of each other and Zoe, and wonderful people around us. And now I am off to spend £15 on a new cup holder because I really miss it here in London.

No comments:

Post a Comment