Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moving like Molasses

The parking garage underneath our new apartment building has a clearance of just over 9 feet.  A random fact I might never have cared about if not for the other random fact that our Budget moving truck boasted a height of 13.5.  Still, I might have never cared about either of those facts except for the last random fact that the only elevators leading up to our 11th floor apartment are located deep in the heart of that parking garage.

You're starting to see the problem, now, aren't you?

I paced around the outside of the building a couple of times, sure I would find the 'moving-in' elevator that would be larger than normal and would take us straight from our Budget truck to the inside of our apartment.  I hoped this elevator would be packed with extra dollies, cases of ice-cold water, and burly men (to help with the unloading, guys)... but none of it seemed to exist.   Eventually, I bumped into the maintenance man down in the parking garage who stopped and shook my hand.  "You the new tenants?" he asked in his heavy Cuban accent.  I nodded and he continued, "I make the garage door stay open for you until you are done.  And I now set the elevators to cargo."  He gestured towards the small elevators tucked inside the garage.  I started to ask if there were other elevators that were a bit more accessible, but he stopped me with a head shake and a half-smile.  "Good luck," was all he said.


There had been a tentative excitement three days before as the sliding door of our Budget truck closed and locked all of our belongings inside.  The packing was done.  The truck was filled.  Fresh ice clanked against the side of my water bottle and the kids hugged their pillows tightly as we made our way to the van.  I slid my water bottle into the drink holder and turned the ignition key as the kids settled their pillows around their seats. 

Just one moment. 
Let me breathe. 
One more breath... here... in this place that I love. so. so. much. 
Let me take one last picture of us on our back steps.  Let's kneel in our family room, empty of belongings but filled with memories, to Thank our Heavenly Father for the last nine years.
Just one more moment for us to cry and remember.

And then I'll dry my tears.
I'll turn my head forward.
Think of the salty sea-air...
The waves.
The sand!
The ocean!!!

We're on our way!


The maintenance man called the elevator and the doors opened to reveal heavy protective fabrics lining the walls.  A familiar, musty smell met me and strangely made me smile.  Ah, I thought.  Humidity.  "This elevator ready for you," he explained as he set the elevator to cargo.  "Please use this only to move your things.  This elevator doors will stay open until you go inside and push the floor button.  And then this one will move only if someone inside."  The one remaining elevator was left to respond to the calls of the other tenants in the building.

At this point we were left to ourselves, and so the unloading began.  And continued.  And continued.  We were extremely lucky to have Brian's brother, Dave, with us. (I don't think we could have done it without him!)  We removed all the seats from our van turning it into a stuff-shuttler and then, since I was far too busy working to get any pictures (blast that I didn't take a moment to do so!), I'll try to paint a picture of what this moving process was like... Picture this...

It's the end of June.  The thermostat inches up towards the mid-nineties, but the humidity brings it far higher.  You are sweating now... just from lifting the latch on the moving truck, so you wipe the sweat away before you raise the moving truck door.  You are met with a wall of belongings - couches, beds, dressers, boxes - everything that you own stares back at you and seems to taunt at the fact that you must move it.  All.  So you begin with the first box.  It's a heavy one, full of heavy kitchen items, so you carefully lift it using your leg muscles and lean slightly backwards as you walk it down the ramp to ground level.  The van is in front of you now with its back door swung wide open and its seats folded into the floor.  You place the box in the van and slide it up as far as you can to make room for as many other things as possible and then spend the next several minutes sliding more boxes and a bookshelf into the empty spaces around it.  It takes about as much time for you to become drenched in sweat as it takes to pack the van as tightly as it can be (and you are dismayed to see that the moving truck seems relatively untouched) so you slide into the driver's seat and make the sharp right turn down into the parking garage.  You make another sharp right turn after you clear the low gate and hope you will clear the wall that seems so, so close to you.  You drive slowly around the next two corners for two reasons.  1) You have several unsecured items in the back and 2) the garage is small and tight and you notice several cars you would like to stay far away from for fear of scratching their perfectly beautiful $100,000 bodies.  You make it to the elevator and work on backing the van into the empty parking spot located just in front of it.  You have to make a 3 (or was it 4 or 5?) point turn to get all the way back in without hitting other walls and cars, but you make it and pop the back.  The elevator is waiting for you with it's doors open, so you grab the first item from the van and then the next and next and load it all into the elevator.  Finally, the kitchen box.  You lift with your legs again and remove it from the back of the van.  You turn, very mindful of those beautiful cars, and g.e.n.t.l.y step over the parking curb that you've been hurdling with the other boxes.  You step up the step to the elevator and walk the box through the doors to rest on the bookshelf.  You had given up wiping the sweat away by this point but after pushing the button labeled "11" you now wipe your arm across your forehead and remember the fruitlessness of the gesture because you're simply mixing arm sweat with forehead sweat.  The ride up in the air-conditioned elevator feels divine but doesn't last long and when the elevator doors open you begin, with the kitchen box, unloading your elevator load into the hall in front of you.  It's a narrow hall, so you have to be creative in your stacking in order to get everything out of the elevator without blocking a walkway.  Once the elevator is empty, you begin moving your load down the halls to the apartment.  The kitchen box is now buried underneath a mass of other boxes and things, so by the time you get to it you are tired.  But you squat anyway.  And you pick it up and lean slightly backwards as you walk down the narrow hallway.  You make it to the end of the hallway and pivot your body 90 degrees to turn the sharp corner without hitting any walls and walk down the next hallway in front of you.  At the end of that hallway your arms are starting to burn and the sweat is starting to drip from your chin, but you slow down and pivot your body another 90 degrees to turn that sharp corner and begin walking down the next long hallway.  At the end of that hallway, you can hear the kids laughing in the apartment and you make one more 90 degree pivot and walk straight into the laughter.  You place the box on top of the load and take a deep breath.  One load down.

You take a quick glance outside to recharge you...

And do it over again.  This time with a couch.  Maybe a dresser or a mattress.  Eventually bed frames, tables, rocking chairs, and always more boxes. 

"You guys are going to have to try to make some really good friends," Dave said as he huffed another load into the apartment. 
"Yeah?" I said.
"Yeah.  Because they're going to have to come help you move out in a year."

So... who's up for it?!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Breaking Away

I awoke one morning a few weeks ago and discovered a milk carton shoved onto the top shelf of our freezer. That's weird... I thought. I wrapped my hand around the handle and pulled a little.  I then pulled a little harder and accompanied my pulling with some jiggling back and forth to dislodge it from the other things around.  When it came loose and scraped it's sides along the icy walls I discovered that it was entirely empty.  Hmmmm... that's weirder.  I concluded that Brian must have wrestled it in there, on that very top shelf where no one under 5' could have shoved such a thing, for a purpose I didn't yet know.  So, I pushed and jiggled the empty carton it back into it's unusual home, shut the freezer door, and decided to ask Brian when he returned from work about the logic behind the situation.  

"I..." he began.  His eyebrows crumpled in confusion, "... don't know," he finished.  He had no memory of muscling the carton onto that top shelf at all.  "Linds... I. Am. So. Stressed."

And, that about sums up the last month of our Durham life.  I had a nervous pit in my stomach for three weeks straight... the kind of pit you get just before you get up in front of a crowd of people to give a talk or sing a song... the feeling drove me crazy and I wasn't sure what, exactly, was causing it.  Was it nervousness about the actual moving process?  Was it nervousness about our house not selling?  Was it nervous anticipation about saying goodbye to ... everything?  Every morning I'd wake and the pit would be there.  And stay.  Day after day.  Week after week.  Even my dreams were weird and uncomfortable.

The milk carton day told me that Brian was feeling it too.  So, I did what I do whenever I'm feeling out of control.  I made a list.

A bucket list.  Of things to do before we left. A thing to pour all my nervous energy into... and, well... it didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped it would, but at least the nervous energy was accompanied by some fun!

#13 Play in a Carolina rainstorm

#27 - Let Miles push the little cart one more time.

#1 - Catch Fireflies

#34 - Make goodies for my awesomely supportive church choir

#2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 - Eat at ____________.  (Apparently we like food)

Timothy has started eying our food...  Who says Hog Heaven can't be a baby's first meal?

#14 Visit Duke Gardens

I'm sure McKenzie's love for taking pictures is completely independent of my own.  So what if I was hiding in a bush taking a picture of her taking a picture?

Our favorite Magnolia tree.  Ever.

We have climbed on this tree for years and years and years.  And... whadayaknow - the last five minutes of play on this very last visit I walked around to the back of the tree and found this sign.

I can't decide whether I feel incredibly guilty, or incredibly happy I never saw the sign until now. Good thing the tree's branches were stronger than my children...

As we were leaving the gardens, I started to prop my camera up on a post to get a family picture when a kind old man stopped and asked if he'd like us to have him take it for us.  He took a few, and then walked with us and chatted the rest of the way to the cars.  I never quite know how people are going to respond to our four kids... most people don't know how to respond... but this man was so delightful and said over and over that we had 'such a beautiful family'.  Which led to crossing off
#25 - Bask in the warmth of Southern Hospitality.

Don't we look like we're basking?  Well, except maybe for Miles, who looks like he's holding in sarcastic comments, and McKenzie, who looks like she's passing silent judgement, and Timothy, who is completely ignoring... Ah, well... I thought he was delightful.

#10 - Get as many pictures of church signs as possible.  Wish I had been more diligent in this one.  It truly is one of my very favorite things about Durham.  I kept passing the signs and thinking 'oh - I'll get that one later'.  Famous last words, I guess.  Especially wish I would have gotten the one that said When I speak in tongues without love, I'm just noisy.

# This-wasn't-on-the-list-but-was-cool-anyway - Watch a deer eat an apple from our apple tree.  I'm a little bit in love with this picture.  It looks like two pictures superimposed together... but really it's just one, taken of the deer in the yard through our glass sliding door which is reflecting the living room behind me.  It was completely an accident, but I love it because it's a little piece of inside and outside at the same time.  Inside, the couch, my running shoes and our walls... outside, the deer, the apple tree, the road and the moon peeking from behind the tall trees.

#17 Hike to our favorite watering hole

#18 and continue on hiking to play in the cabin

 #24 Walk around Duke Campus

Posing awkwardly wasn't on the list, but sometimes we're full of surprises like that...

 #31 - Say good riddance to the bugs

#22 - Have a tree-swing jumping contest

#12 - Take a Family picture in front of our house

There are so many things I love about this picture. 1) the burning bush 2) my head sticking out from Brian's armpit 3) Carson's zombie arms.  Hooray we all made it into a picture!


Goodbye, Durham.  You will forever be on our Favorite Friends list.