Saturday, January 09, 2010

Moving: the write-up

As you know, we started the long and arduous journey of trying to move back in July - well, even earlier to be honest - but it was in July that we accepted the offer on our flat. Hard to remember what was going on at that time, apart from it was surely warmer than it is now and Blake was probably not really talking much, if at all. Now Britain is in the middle of its "big freeze" and B has turned into a little dictator - "Wake up, Daddy!", "Sit down, Mommy!", "Don't do that!", etc etc.

Rewind a few weeks from today to Monday, December 21st. Christmas just a few days away, the chaos of that hectic period rising to a boil, and we're about to pack up our beloved flat in Kensal Rise to move south of the river. Crazy amounts of money were being evacuated from our bank accounts, the stress of the "will we move? won't we move?" debacle had left my nerves frazzled, and to top it off, snow was forecast. We woke up and Matt took Blake off to his last day at nursery, while I waited for the professional movers to turn up to pack up the flat. Because of bad weather over the weekend, the "professional movers" turned out to be one young guy (I think he was probably at least 18, although not much older perhaps!) named Joe; the people who were supposed to be helping him had been delayed on jobs that should have been done on Saturday, so he was on his own.

My previous experiences with moving had always been riddled with procrastination, disorganization, and last-gasp leaving behind or throwing away of items in order to get things to fit into a pre-set amount of suitcases I had at my disposal. I'll never forget taking out an enormous box of clothes and just leaving them on the street at 2:00 in the morning in front of the Back Bay apartment I shared with Cindy a few hours before I flew to London in the move that brought me here. I couldn't fit them in my bags so that was the best option at the time!

I had certainly never paid anyone to help me move, but Joe was remarkably efficient. About 10 minutes after he arrived, I went into the living room to get a marker from our "pen basket", only to find that the entire surface of the sideboard was cleared and the pen basket was already packed away into a box. Oh, so that's how it works, I thought. Anything that was visible was fair game for Joe and before long the color scheme of the flat had turned into a primarily cardboard-colored one. Our bed was the oasis for things that we didn't want to pack, and it quickly became covered with various bits and bobs. Outside it was grey and drizzling, and Matt and I decided to head out to lunch. Of all the culinary options available to us - Gracelands Cafe, the Chamberlayne Pub - Matt wanted to go for a fry-up, so we went down to Arthur's Cafe near the bus station for bacon, sausage, chips, beans and toast. Classy.

I stopped in to say goodbye to Carina at Kidsen, where I had enjoyed shopping since she opened up on Chamberlayne Road, but then it was back to the flat for more packing. Joe was supposed to have gone to get some food, but he said he had wanted to just keep going so I went out to L'Angolo and got him a sandwich and a banana (furthering the feeling that I could have been his mother). There were a few mad dashes to the post office but soon enough it was 4:00 and Joe had finished all the packing! In the meantime it had started to snow, so after dropping him off at the tube station I then went home to get ready to go pick up Blake. I was prepared to be distraught at saying goodbye to all the girls at the nursery who had, in time, become special to Blake, but fortunately the snow spared any emotional dramas. The buses had stopped running so I ended up walking down to Ladbroke Grove, arriving freezing cold and sopping wet and with only one real aim in mind - get back home and get warm as quickly as possible. There weren't that many people left at this point in the day so after a fairly anti-climactic goodbye, we were off home again. I was relieved at how it all went...!

The next day came and at around 9:00 am a massive moving van arrived out front. I thought that there would be no way in a million years that our stuff would fill it, but that's just what happened, and they were storing stuff in the cab so tight was the space! I think around 11:00 Matt got a call from our solicitor to say that we had completed - oh my gosh, the house was ours and it had actually all gone through! Somewhat hard to believe. We managed to clear out by about 1:00 pm or so; I kept looking around doing final checks that we hadn't left anything since once we closed the door, we were locking our keys in and wouldn't be coming back. Matt drove us and our packed car through London, along the route which had now become familiar since the house-hunting days in the summer. Blake napped in the back and I tried to relax and tell myself that this was definitely for the best. Fortunately although it was cold, the sun was shining which I thought was a good omen.

We stopped off at the estate agent's office to pick up our keys...surprisingly no need to do anything apart from say who I was and I was given the keys. Back in the car, miles now from NW London, Blake from the backseat starts to ask for Chris and Anna. Oh no, he misses our neighbors already!

We arrive at the house and it's waiting empty for us. I still love the peaceful street, while Matt starts to mentally calculate how much it's going to cost to do the work we'd like to do. We explore a bit before the guys from Wise Moves show up and start bringing everything in, making the house feel a little smaller with each box they bring through the door. Around 5:30, they declare themselves finished, and it's done - we're in!

Over the next few days before we headed off to Elizabeth's for Christmas, I frantically tried to unpack as much as I could. Matt at several points reminded me that we were going to be here for a while, so I did not need to kill myself to try to get too much done too quickly.

And now, about three weeks later, as I write this from the living room, it really already feels like home. It's an imperfect house, for the moment, and we hope to address the drafty nature of the windows, the configuration of the kitchen and the dining room, the colors of the walls, the state of the little garden out back. But it is home already, and that makes it perfect.

Moving Day_Dec 22

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