Moving house sucks. In fact, according to my chiropractor, moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, along with changing jobs and getting divorced. Given the circumstances, I decided to avoid changing jobs – two out of three is bad enough and a clean sweep would be overkill.
To be honest, I’m not sure why my chiropractor was so concerned. If anything, he stood to get a substantial windfall by my moving house. Inevitably, I’d overdo it and require his services if I were to have any chance of standing fully upright ever again.
For several weeks, I judged everything I owned in terms of whether it was worth packing or should be recycled into oblivion. My choices were, it must be said, somewhat arbitrary. I kept the school project from when I was seven – a short story about a magical sheep (and, let’s face it, ‘Avengers’ would have been vastly improved had more farmyard animals been involved). Other more useful items didn’t make the cut, mostly clothes. It wasn’t that I’d grown out of them physically as much as mentally. Suffice to say that I ended up with a bag labeled ‘shirts of regret’.
What’s especially terrifying about moving is the risk of some kind of condition or requirement you simply cannot satisfy. A couple of weeks before the big day, I read through a checklist from the movers and a chill went down my spine. In big bold print, it warned me to make certain the washing machine had its stabiliser bolts. These are, apparently, essential for ensuring that the washing barrel maintains its balance and preventing a disturbance to the space/time continuum. Frankly, it sounds like something we could all use.
To find the stabiliser bolts I had to imagine what I might have done two years earlier. This involved putting myself in my own shoes – many of which I’d already packed – and summoning up my earlier self. It was simple. Some objects demand pride of place, hung on a wall or displayed on a mantle piece. Other items are mysterious and there’s only one place they can go – the bottom drawer in the kitchen.
Batteries, odd bits of string and washing machine stabiliser bolts – they all belong in the bottom drawer. It’s the place to put anything you don’t need yet don’t feel you can throw out. I’d packed the bottom drawer a week earlier, but knew which box held its assortment of weird contents. Rifling through the menagerie of oddities, I soon found a bag of alien-looking plastic brackets and long, silver bolts. I knew in an instant these were stabiliser bolts.
It was a miracle. Now my washing machine would finally have the stability it so richly deserved, even if I didn’t. I continued packing, a task that seemed infinite. Given the enormity of the task, it was difficult to believe that I’d been here for a little less than two years. I had arrived at a time of crisis and was leaving not just with my dignity intact but entirely repaired.
The act of packing forces you to confront things you’ve successfully ignored for ages. Some objects hadn’t been unpacked after my last move, remaining veritable moths inside their plastic tub cocoons. It’s a melancholy business. Eventually, my house was a sea of boxes and neatly stacked items, patiently awaiting transportation to their new home. I was almost ready.
I was asleep when I heard it; a scratching at the front door. It sounded like a very large and grumpy possum, so I ignored it. Then the sound seemed to move. From the front to the side until I thought I could hear creaking at the back. As possums go, it was clearly very active. I decided to investigate.
When I move around at night, I’m like a ninja. I never turn the lights on. Instead, I rely on my enhanced panther-like senses to navigate through the darkness. As I got to the kitchen, I could see through the night shadows that the back door was wide open. Worse still, the possum in question was about six feet tall, standing on two legs and in the middle of my living room.
I wish I could say that I remained cool and said something awesome like, ‘Big mistake’ or ‘You’ve just made a very powerful enemy’, but instead I yelled ‘Hey!’ at the top of my lungs. The intruder bolted. I quickly locked the door before realising that there may be others still inside. Turning on all the lights I could, I inspected every nook and cranny until I was satisfied I was alone. It was only then that my thoughts turned to whether anything might be missing. Turns out, he’d taken my car key (but not the car) and a clip containing my license, ATM card and gym membership.
Thankfully, the dirty varmint didn’t steal the washing machine stabiliser bolts. Perhaps he was ignorant as to their value. Maybe he doesn’t wash his clothes. Either way, the bolts remained mine. Never before in the history of humankind has there been a better time to move house. As I write this, I can hear the washing machine gently whirring away, everything perfectly balanced. I feel exactly the same way.