When Packrats Move

Brace yourself, it’s another Joe guest post

Before getting married to my wife Suzanne, I decided to invest my remaining assets in a Coop apartment in Forest Hills, Queens. It was a nice size place with two bedrooms, a big living room, large walk-in closets, and foyer hall on the top floor of a pre-war building right on Queens Blvd.

When we got married, Suzanne moved in, bringing with her a lot of books, albums, videos, a computer, desks and clothes. We were both making good salaries so things were good, and we indulged our interests, acquiring more books, music, videos, including laser discs, and audiobooks (for my hour-a- day commute). Of course we also had to buy bookcases and racks to hold all those books and videos and audio CDs. (I was also clever in designing storage, taking full advantage of the 10-foot ceilings and foyer walls for bookcases.)

The plan was to stay a few years – maybe 5 years or so, then buy a house. The real estate market tumbled a bit, although more stable in Forest Hills than most, but it delayed our move plans. We also couldn’t agree on neighborhoods. That all changed when my friend and sometimes work partner Herb introduced us to Sea Cliff and Glen Head, a pretty hamlet on the (Long Island) North Shore, not far from the city, but full of hills, trees and quaint village living areas that appealed to both of us.

So, we started looking for a house, and found a nice colonial on a corner in Glen Head, with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a study, den, 2-car garage, and several 100-foot trees. It was just what we were looking for, so we made the decision to buy it. We went to contract in April, so started packing. I decided that we’d have to move into the house first, then sell the apartment, since it was so packed with our stuff we could not show it without scaring off prospective buyers. I had an idea to help ease the move – rent a storage facility and start moving some belongings out to it. So, most mornings, I would fill a cart with boxes of books, videos, CDs and other items, take it downstairs by elevator and pack my car, a Toyota hatchback, and take it to the storage space, which was on the way to work.

After a few months of that, I was satisfied we had lessened the expected moving day load and when we closed in mid-July, I hired a moving company with a large trailer to move the contents of our apartment.

Moving day (August 10, 2001) was hot – reaching almost 100 degrees, and the movers started moving things out to the truck. It looked like the reverse of a clown car – repeated trips of carts out of the apartment and down the elevator for over 4 hours. Finally, the lead mover came to me and said “Sorry, the truck is full!” They hadn’t even moved anything from our 2nd bedroom, which served us both as a home office.

OK, so we would have to rent a truck ourselves and move that another day. When they arrived at the house, everyone was suffering from the heat but unpacked for an hour until suddenly interrupted by a violent thunderstorm, which also knocked out power, which meant stacking boxes in the living room that couldn’t be put in the blacked-out basement.

With the phase I move done, we started unpacking and a week later rented a truck to retrieve both the remaining apartment room and the storage facility items, finally settling in to the new house.

The movers, Suzanne, and I agreed that no-one would believe that two people could accumulate that much stuff in an apartment and we had to admit to ourselves – we’re just a couple of packrats!

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