Last month we joined many other parents in our demographic by moving to a smaller home. This was our fourth move in 25 years. It was different from the others, however. You see, there are moves in the early years, when your kids are toddlers and all your possessions can fit in a pickup. Where the furniture is particle board and weighs 30 pounds. It’s not really moving; it’s a fun adventure when people pitch in and everyone grabs something like a Big Wheel. Laughter and joy are plentiful.
Then your kids grow up, leave, and take with them a pair of jeans, a concert T-shirt and five phone chargers. What’s left behind is your problem. And that, let me tell you, is moving. Miserable, painful, never ending, torturous. I could elaborate further but it’s difficult to type while in traction.
Moving when your nest is near empty has four components. The storage unit comes first, but no one would ever consider bidding up this junk on A&E. Not even Barry who wears $400 shirts yet curiously spends days overpaying for trash. Next is the garage sale. This was a home run thanks to our neighbor Brandi Dickerson, previously chronicled in this space as the garage sale lady (GSL). She took charge. Employing fliers, yard signs, Craigslist, Star ads, dressing up the venue with framed artwork (for sale, of course) on the walls, playing Beethoven, and printing out decorative price tags, she elevated our garage to Barneys.
Memo to Clark Hunt — hire GSL stat. Day one is a bonanza of buyers with Benjamins exchanging hands. Day two things changed. The creepers arrive in conversion vans with intentions of trolling inside the house. People who make Honey Boo Boo look like a charter member of Hallbrook Country Club. “But the ads said this was an estate sale!” Sorry, bud.
Goodwill and Catholic Charities followed.
Which left moving day. Basements used to be fun hang outs for your high school kids. Now it’s the world’s largest compost bin, a smorgasbord of computer and game accessories, crutches, VHS tapes, guitar amps, baseball helmets, sleeping bags, Beanie Babies, American Girl dolls and a teddy bear whose button nose is missing thanks to Bernie. In basement storage room No. 2 we found a large box jammed with Natty Light cans and empty Vodka bottles presumably from that ‘no drinking’ party in 2008. We found enough nail clippers to give a manicure to Edward Scissorhands. More TV remotes than found at Best Buy. A Netflix DVD that went missing in 2009.
Moods quickly sour. Questions come to mind, like these: Who thought we needed 40 different couch pillows? Wicker baskets, sure, but 15? What’s up with multiple gift cards for businesses long since closed? Someone explain why we have enough protective cups to outfit the Royals? Why isn’t Apple’s stock price higher, given all the accessories we own? Is this stuff reproducing at night? Is Blockbuster still charging me a past due fee Shrek 2? Where is the Advil?
There were some keepsakes. We found a box of letters from my mother that forced an emotional pause. There was an envelope of savings bonds gifted for our first son that were 23 years in the waiting. (Depositing them at CapFed required 30 minutes as the youthful teller stared at them like she was holding a Rubrics Cube.) There were other things — paystubs, grade cards and Yearbooks from the time when polyester leisure suits were cool. My wife’s nametag from her days working at Macy’s as a 16-year-old was worthy of the safety deposit box. We rediscovered huge plastic tubs of grainy, sometimes out of focus photographs, reflective of a chaotic time when the parental zone defense fell apart. An accumulation of moments — road trips, baseball teams, birthdays, campouts, holidays.
Along the way you pause, sit on the carpet, reminisce and blink away tears.
When the time finally arrived and nothing remained, with the sun setting, Lori and I walked through the house and paused in each bedroom. We said goodbye to the home that was at the centerpiece of the best eight years of our lives.
Matt Keenan, a 913 freelance columnist, writes every other week. His book, “Call Me Dad, Not Dude. The Sequel,” is available at thekansascitystore.com.