Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Move: Part 1

We are sitting here on our new bed in our new flat in Berlin. It's 18:00 in the evening, dark and chilly out. This will be our third night here but it feels like it's been one long continuous day since we left San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. In fact, it's been a full week now of nearly unbroken intensity.

Right before we left!
* Shannon's comments are italicized!

Tuesday, January 7

This was the day that we had scheduled to actually move out of our apartment in LA. When we got up that morning, we knew that we were a bit behind already on everything that had to be done. But, we went and picked up the rental truck while still clinging to some optimism that we would, indeed, be able to pack everything out and leave in the early to mid-afternoon. Then we drive north while some daylight still remained, arriving in Oakdale (where Shannon's parents live, our last pitstop before Germany) in the evening.

But reality set in as we began a grueling day of nonstop boxing, lifting, and cleaning. I don't think we stopped moving for 14 straight hours, barely even stopping to eat. Luckily we had some help from family, especially my sister, who worked very hard for hours to help us stay on track. We whittled the place down room-by-room, with poor confused Flash watching us from his bed as everything disappeared in front of his eyes. By the end of the day, Shannon and I were exhausted, and still faced with the daunting prospect of driving 6 hours through the night.

We moved our bed into the living room for the last night we spent there because our other furniture was gone- and it's more fun that way!
This was the last thing we packed up. :)
Having fun with the empty apartment!
All clear!
The mess at the end!
But finally we had reached the last moments in our little apartment, our home for five years. My sister finally called it quits and said we said our goodbyes. Rahsan isn't afraid to shed a tear, but we were both caught off guard when he cried after she left. Shannon switched off the lights in the bedrooms and hallway, so that only one light remained, and turned to me with a look of surreal realization that we were actually leaving. We both acknowledged that this is really happening, and it hit us both like an elbow in the gut. We stood there for a while in the empty space just holding each other and crying. I surprised myself with my depth of emotion. It's complicated - leaving that apartment was a necessary and positive turn for our life, something that we have been very excited about. It was absolutely what had to happen. But we had built so much inside of that place. Our routines, our working life, our source of rest and rejuvenation - we were very comfortable and safe. And our relationship was nurtured and blossomed there. We were married while living there, and because of that there will always be a special significance to our memories of the space.

So, wiping away our tears and turning our gaze away from the past and toward the excitement of the future, we set off. Again, clinging to optimism, that yes, it was not crazy to start a six hour drive at 9:30 at night!

We made it all the way to Santa Clarita (30 minutes) and had some McDonald's, telling ourselves that the "protein" would get us through. It didn't. Within another half hour, I began getting really drowsy. Rahsan and I were on speakerphone with each other (I was driving our car while Rahsan followed behind in the rental truck full of our stuff) and suddenly I realized that I was near the point of falling asleep at the wheel. At this point, we were driving through the Grapevine, and there were no exits or shoulders. I could hear the terror in Rahsan's calm and stern voice as he preceded to say anything he could to keep me awake. He told me that Flash was in my backseat and it was my responsibility to keep him safe; he told me that it was just a couple more minutes to the next exit (even though it was further than that); he tried to keep me talking. It was one of the scariest things both of us had ever gone through. Rah got me from exit to exit to exit (at one exit we were hassled by a pair of suspicious CHP officers who probably thought we were up to something much racier than simply resting and watching some Friends on Rahsan's phone), until finally we made it to the Holiday Inn in Lebec to get some sleep. I apologized so many times, for getting us off schedule, for costing us money, and for putting him through that. He assured me that he needed the sleep, too. 

Wednesday, January 8

We woke up late after passing out in what felt like the most comfortable hotel bed ever, and fueled up on the cheap Holiday Inn continental "breakfast". Flash had not had as restful a night, to say the least. He was freaked out by the smells and sounds of the hotel room, and had prowled around the room a lot during the night. He didn't want to eat much or use his litter
box, even though we tried everything to soothe him. It was just too strange a place for him, I suppose.

But soon enough we hit the road, and managed to get to Oakdale by the late afternoon. We had made it! Our simple one day move had turned into a two-day epic ordeal, but we'd made it.

Thursday, January 9

We unloaded the truck all day, placing everything into an empty bedroom in Shannon's parents' house. We had way more stuff than we'd estimated, so it was a bit stressful realizing that everything would not entirely fit in the closet and attic as we'd hoped. But we focused on simply getting it off the truck, and left the storage puzzle to another day.

Flash was so happy to be at the house. He's spent a lot of time there, so being in a familiar space after the car ride and strange hotel was an obvious relief for him.

I had to work during the first part of the day, which left most of the unloading to Rah and my dad. Then he and I took the truck back to Modesto, the nearest Budget rental drop-off location (Oakdale is a pretty small town). The guy who worked there asked us where we were coming from, and then asked us why in the world we would leave LA. We told him where we were ultimately headed and I saw a bit of jealousy in his eyes. I told him to get out of there. Not everyone who's born in California's central valley should stay there, if there heart lies elsewhere.

Friday & Saturday, January 10 & 11

We spent two days sorting our stuff and packing our suitcases for Germany. It was a big job! Normally, you pack suitcases for a trip of a few days, or at most a couple of weeks. But we were packing up the necessities of our entire life. That's the nature of relocation. You really have to balance what you need with what you want, and fit it all into the strict weight requirements of international air travel. For instance, there was a last minute debate over whether we should bring my aging Wacom tablet or buy a new one. Our suitcases were all approaching the weight maximum and that tablet is heavy! It's very necessary for my work, but I've been thinking of replacing it soon anyway. But ultimately we managed to squeeze it in, and I'm very glad we did. Every extra dollar counts over here in Euro-land.

By the end of Saturday we had packed our suitcases like champions, and basically decided where everything else would be stored. We were ready to go! And just in time for Sunday morning...

Next: Part 2 - Getting to Berlin

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