Everything I need to know I learned from moving to Portland

Amazing what you can learn from moving. This is another fine thing about un/homeschooling: you can’t pass by a rock or a tree or a giant stack of moving boxes without finding the Lesson in it. (Much, sometimes, to my children’s chagrin.)

1. A 26′ moving truck is not enough to hold everything you own; an additional 5×8′ trailer might be enough for the rest, were there not a BMW R100 motorcycle mysteriously crammed into the back of it. (Now where did that come from?)

2. Is your child sad about never having had a major medical event in his life? If you move, he will miraculously fall the day before the truck rolls out and land on his elbow. Three days later, when it’s still hurting like crazy and you’re 1100 miles away in a strange new city, you will have the exciting experience of navigating unfamiliar streets in search of the very, very, very far away urgent care center. There, you will discover that his arm is most likely broken. Two days later, the orthopedist will confirm that the elbow is "damaged at the growth plate, if not technically broken" and that the wrist is most likely broken too. Your child will be excited about his new bright pink cast. You will be less excited at the prospect of being unable to ride bikes en famille for three weeks. You will be even less excited about the enormous medical bill that will be landing in your mailbox as soon as the doctor’s office figures out that your worthless insurance is not going to pay for any of this mishap.

3. The 80/20 rule applies in moving as in everything else. You will spend 20% of the time packing/unpacking 80% of the stuff. The remaining 20% of the stuff will suck up 80% of your time as you stare at it and wonder "where the hell did this come from/should this go?"

4. If you thought you had a lot of scrapbooking stuff before, and were proud of yourself for having gotten rid of so much of it… it will miraculously triple in volume as you, your incredibly patient and hardworking in-laws, and your incredibly hardworking and much-beloved friends schlep it up the narrow treacherous stairs to your attic office space.

5. Once said boxes have been schlepped to said attic space, DO NOT muse aloud, no matter how offhandedly, on how perhaps the downstairs bedroom would be a better place for the office.

6. Cats undergo miraculous personality changes when under great stress. To wit: your formerly silent and aloof cat will suddenly begin mushing at every opportunity, sitting on the laps of complete strangers (!) and MEOWING ALL NIGHT EVERY NIGHT. Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow. (As you write this, you will suddenly hear meowing from behind you, and your formerly silent and aloof cat will clamber onto your lap. The better to meow at you.)

7. Even though you’re hardly doing any formal bookwork schooling during the long arduous moving process, your children are still learning valuable things at this time. To wit: how to assemble a moving box; how to break down a moving box; how to throw flattened boxes down the basement stairs; the names of several different sorts of roses in the two-blocks-away rose garden; that the antics of squirrels (a species unbeknownst to Grand Junction) are thoroughly entertaining to watch; that sleeping on the futon upstairs while waiting for your parents to buy you those long-promised bunk beds is scary at first, but not so bad once you get used to it.

8. Have you just moved to a new city where your Beloved Sweetie is establishing a new freelance career while you live off your freelance gigs and the money from selling your house? Don’t read the entertainment listings or restaurant reviews in the weekly papers. They’ll just make you feel like spending money you don’t have on bands you’ve never heard of and cuisines you’ve never tasted. But if seeing bands you’ve never heard of and sampling cuisines you’ve never tasted are among your primary reasons for moving to said city… hey, live it up. You only get one ride on the merry-go-round, after all. (Cancel your cable instead, and get your news from the free weeklies or Google News. Or consider selling some of the eight thousand-odd pounds of books you’ve just unloaded into a house where there is nowhere to put them.)

9. Before you move, have a party. A loud one. With two bands. In the driveway. Because you haven’t really lived in a city until that city’s cops have been called to shut your party down. (We love you, Jones Adams Duo! We love you, Shotgun Hodown!)

10. What kind of parents/in-laws are highly upset by your moving plans… yet uncomplainingly help you load your truck (ask us about piano hijinx! Actually, don’t), caravan with you across three states to your distant new home, uncomplainingly help you unload your truck (return of the piano hijinx!), spend a couple of days helping you get acclimated… and then tell you they "feel guilty" because you haven’t been able to do much unpacking while they were there? Freakin’ amazing ones, that’s what kind. (And you were more than happy to take a day’s break from unpacking and go tooting around Portland with them, anyway. You and Beloved Sweetie were about ready to strangle each other/the kids out of pure stress… plus, you got to go down to the waterfront and see the first round of Fleet Week ships, and you even made a brief appearance on the Channel 2 news talking about how cool the big boats were.) Think hard on how much your family loves you. Thank them for it.

About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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8 Responses to Everything I need to know I learned from moving to Portland

  1. Mimi says:

    Poor boy, I hope that his elbow heals quickly.
    Good tips – I think we’ve been through most of them ourselves!

  2. stephanie t. says:

    Ohh…My …Gawd!!! What a week you’ve had!
    Poor dude-ling with the elbow! Nasty way to spend the first days of summer…but hey…think of all extras from said parents (elbows are painful…I speak from experience having shattered mine from elbow to wrist).
    Cana’t wait to hear about your Portland adventures and discoveries…it’s one of my favorite cities.
    I can’t remember…are you a ‘Duck’ or a ‘Beaver’??

  3. Helena says:

    So true. I can totally relate to the 80/20 thing. We’ve got DH’s parents here this week and I used the occasion to motivate myself to take care of a few remaining boxes. We’ve got everything more-or-less put away now, but there’s a lot that I’m not quite happy with.
    Glad to hear you made it! Have fun settling in!

  4. Man I get tired just hearing how much you have done. Like I told you wish I was there to help but I am sending you positive vibrations and lots of energy so you can do all you have to do. Hugs Wanda

  5. Hey Red Molly! We already miss you here in Grand Junction. I will look forward to hearing about your adventures in your new home… and when you’re out on the town, think of the poor hicks you left behind in Colorado!

  6. Summer says:

    You’re a hero among women!
    Viva Molly!!!

  7. Sam Masson says:

    Keep in mind, moving is equivalent to one-third of a housefire, in terms of wear-n-tear on the familial psyche. And, take heart… a sympathetic doctor-cum-bicycle-enthusiast would be glad to mold a cast around a handlebar grip, so when the growth plate’s a little less shell-shocked, the cast’ll be bike-compatible.

  8. Lori V. says:

    Hey, Molly! I’m glad to hear you made it in one piece (well, mostly)! We’ve been in this house for 3 years and that 20% is still not where it should be! 😉

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