If I've learned one thing about moving, it's that you need to start the hideous process of decluttering sooner than two weeks prior to moving day. But in my particular case, despite having an unusually awesome solicitor, I didn’t have official confirmation that I was even moving until the day before. I was also so keen to move out that I was literally on tenterhooks for weeks about what could go wrong and I didn’t want to ‘jinx it’ by doing what any sensible person would have done and actually preparing.
The worse thing about moving isn’t decluttering, because you tend to know what you want to throw away and what you want to keep. And it isn’t packing, because you know what you need to put into boxes. It’s that dreaded halfway house between the two. That part when you have to make a decision on the stuff you feel nothing but apathy for. The result is that you leave it far too late and end up frantically shoving most of it into binliners the night before, or worse still, the day itself. Anything in the loft sits firmly in this category. In fact if moving had its own awards ceremony, the loft would win one for ‘most untold misery’. I’d convinced myself that spending an hour up there during half term constituted a full clear out and packing exercise, when in actual fact as I discovered two days before the move, all I’d done is throw one shit Christmas tree out and forgot the rest because I couldn’t be arsed. That resulted in a frantic and super-stressful evening up there doing what I’d had plenty of time to do weeks before.
I should also add that moving week saw me start a new job. Great planning on my part because I could have controlled the timing and started a week later, but no. Because I’m an idiot. So, moving week saw me creating a ‘home office’ on my bed because my desk and my dining table had both been collected by the recycling company. Worse still, I was surrounded by boxes and unable to get on and off without scrambling around like an upended beetle. Deadlines that I maybe could have had a little flex on in my old job were ever-present and I ended up working until 7pm the night before the move. Not stressful at all.
I started the day strong, pulling a muscle in my back while carrying a mattress. That resulted in the type of injury that results in involuntary and undignified sounds every time you move, which is quite a lot when you’re moving actual houses.
Noticing that my removal men were absolute machines and feeling smug about being ahead of schedule, I decided to go to the local deli and get everyone a butty for breakfast. Chatting pleasantly to the staff at 10.30am while awaiting my order, I received a call from my estate agent telling me that ‘the money had gone through, the property was no longer mine and to vacate urgently’. I later realised that after the call, I should have taken a deep breath and verified this with my solicitor. Instead, in my panic, I limped home sloshing hot drinks everywhere to tell everyone, only for us to turn up at my new house to find the poor guys who lived there only halfway through moving out. On the whole though, the move itself progressed really well, the only notable exceptions being:
- Forgetting until we were literally about to set off to tell the removal men about the boxes waiting to be taking down from the loft (that bloody loft)
- Nearly murdering our goldfish Mariah when she nearly slopped onto the floor of my car as I turned a corner too fast with her tank in the footwell
- My sister trapping my Dad’s head between a wardrobe and a wall
- The removal men going to the right street, in completely the wrong area, and sitting outside a house in Flanshaw for an hour and a half while I shat myself and thought they’d driven off with all my stuff
As we all know, despite the utter trauma of uprooting ourselves and plonking ourselves and our families and/or pets in a completely new living space, if moving has been our choice, it’s almost always worth the pain.
Yes, I had to literally shoulder barge my son’s bedroom door on night one because the handle didn’t work and I didn’t have the heart to ring my Dad. And yes, we were restricted to choosing between the Arctic or Tehran for our temperature for almost a week because I couldn’t work out the ridiculously stupid heating system, and yes, there was no TV for a week because I left it too late to call Sky. But now, I can’t believe it’s mine.
When looking for a home after my marriage ended, I dreamed small. I assumed that because I was a single mum, I probably shouldn’t expect too much. Over time, I’ve realised that doesn’t have to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, my house is not Buckingham Palace, but it is to me. Because after five years, I’m finally living in a house I’m in love with and am proud of. In a literal sense, I’ve moved into the next street. In a symbolic sense, I've moved worlds away. It’s been quite a journey. And I'm knackered. So for the foreseeable future, you can find me on my sofa, watching The Crown, and not moving (in any sense).