Some Assembly Required

Guess what time it is?

“This is a problem that can be solved with money.”

This is a phrase that an old friend used to say when faced with dilemmas that could, all told, be helped by pulling out a figurative checkbook. The first time she said it, I kind of thought it was a revelation. If I’m not traveling or swiping my credit card for fantastic house projects at the Shipyard, then I’m not super keen to be throwing money around on stuff that I might be able to do myself.

I think this is move #12.

But then, it came to pass that I would need to move my life halfway across the city because my landlord wanted to move back into his flat. The evolution of moving in itself does indeed suck (and I have written about the experience multiple times). And it sucks that I have to pay out of pocket for this particular move, and it sucks that I have to go through the evolution of house hunting in between my many work trips. By moving again I’m forced to reckon with the mountain of belongings that I, one person, have accumulated and am now paying someone else to move across town. But still, I strive to look at the bigger picture: I have a good job that pays well; I can indeed solve the problem of moving with money.

Happily perched, money happily spent.

Right now there are three very nice Romanian guys running around my flat and lifting boxes of shoes and kitchenware with impressive speed. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had an energy level that equaled theirs, but I know that I don’t have the energy to haul even a handful of my boxes down to the sidewalk. I’m grateful to pay for the help (gone are the days where you pay your friends to help you move with pizza and beer). Still, this is a tough thing to do on your own, and many aspects are emotionally taxing and really can’t be assuaged by stacks of £20 pound notes.

Life reduced to brown boxes and Sharpie writing.

Two years ago, I wrote about my guardian angel brother coming over to London in order to help me move in. I might prefer independence in some aspects of my life, but there are so many other instances where I hate to do stuff alone. Moving is inherently stressful. I’ve had these weird phantom pains in my hip flexors for days—which I can only chalk up to some strange manifestation of stress. It’s hard to convey, but the simple act of having someone who knows you well—even if they’re just standing around and cracking jokes during a period of transition—is immensely curative.

Dakar was about 4 moves ago.

When I moved back to Washington, DC from Senegal, I went through a similar experience. As a young officer, I might have been trained to drive a warship, but all these years later the mere thought of dealing with a few crates of my belongings on my own felt far more daunting. In this case, my good friend Liz— who also lived in Senegal, —came over with her baby strapped to her back and helped me work through the process. She knew me (and the military moving process) very well, and she made me feel like everything was going to be fine. And of course it was.

I own too much stuff.

As the boxes start to disappear from my kitchen, and my ass starts to feel frozen from sitting on this granite countertop, I know that today will be okay. Even if I get a few parking tickets (again, a dilemma that will be solved with money), I know it will be okay. I’ll soon be in a new living space and will tear back into my stuff toassemble everything anew.

I will miss this view.

As the town streets have reminded me that it’s Christmas (no American Thanksgiving here to speak of), I have already decided on what I will unpack first. My little brother, when he was out here two Novembers ago, set up my entire living room. He even went so far as to put up my faker than fake-looking Christmas tree. The one we procured at 80% off from the Ocean State Job Lot back home in Falmouth several years ago. By doing this, he had me feeling immediately at home in my strange new place. So, if I can just get through these next couple of hours, I will forgo everything else and dig out the Christmas tree. I might be 40 years old, and seemingly mature enough to handle a move on my own, but the kid in me really just wants to kick back in my own space with something sparkly and reminiscent of home. I’ll get there soon enough.

But it might take until Christmas before I reach my tree.