Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things you can do in a lifetime and yet some of us move constantly (military, travelers, those with a job who relocate frequently) while others stay in the same house most of their lives. Ultimately however, you’ll find yourselves at a point in your life moving house, whether it’s your own transition or you end up going through the experience through a sibling, son, daughter or parent.
Personally, I’ve moved a lot over the years even though my grandparents whose house I grew up in, kept that house until they died, handmade renovations and all. My grandfather added several rooms and a bathroom although they never did much to the land itself. When you grow up in small town America, there’s a nostalgia about it and despite how many places you meander to and through after you leave, something in the back of your mind always thinks you’ll return to a life which is similar somehow years in the future.
I never did. That said, the thought of an old antique house with big wooden beams and original hardwood floors continues to entice me. The winding stairs with the long rails which we never had, but I always dreamed of. The big wraparound porches that New England is so well known for and we never had either….I was convinced one day I would live in a house with a New England wrap around porch, old wooden rockers and plenty of hanging plants from the fierce painted beams, likely some Victorian blue color.
Since childhood and the original house I spent my grammar school years in, I have lived in small African and Asian villages and funky houses and apartments all over the world, none of which have had walkaround porches, old rockers or a country kitchen with old copper pots. I have lived in a trailer park in the Arizona desert, a mobile home in the middle of nowhere, a flat on the Atlantic along the Florida coast, a house just outside Cambridge Massachusetts, in a rooftop room in Turkey and about the same size room in Greece. I’ve lived on a kibbutz and on a farm in New Zealand. I’ve lived out of my car on America’s East Coast and in an old fashioned boxed van named Balou in southern Africa.
For longer periods of time, I’ve lived in countless city apartments, from Amsterdam, London, Paris, Sydney and Johannesburg to Jerusalem, Boston, Fort Myers, San Diego, New York City and most recently, San Francisco.
The truth is that no matter how often I’ve moved, I always seem to have a hard time letting go — of the “stuff,” the people I met in my community and all the memories I shared with others while I was in that “structure.” As if memories really go anywhere…..they never leave you, you simply bring them with you to the new structure and start all over again sharing new ones. You have new gatherings, parties and holidays. You have new game nights, walks in the nearby park and long conversations about philosophy and life itself. You share sorrows with your neighbors and friends, watch people die and be born. And then it repeats itself, whether you are in a new house or whether you stayed in the old one.
Life is made of cycles. And, a move is a major transition to a new life cycle.
Last year, we got the news that we had to vacate our apartment on the hill in lovely San Francisco. Unique in many ways, it had distinct beautiful molding from yesteryear, a patio garden that was so filled with magic that some friends swear they’ve felt the energy of fairies and angels floating about. I wouldn’t be surprised since humming and blue birds would visit daily and there was so much serenity to be found in that mystical garden, you’d never know you were in the middle of San Francisco.
The Nostalgia Part of Moving
A couple of months before the eventual move, we began to box things up, take paintings down and pass along our gratitude through various rituals as we began the transition. For the longest time, we didn’t know if we were going to move south, east, or north (west would be in the ocean of course).
Even the garage was full — could we really get rid of enough stuff? Would our next place have enough space?
Hours upon hours upon hours of articles and photo edits were made in the office and suddenly a room filled with memories, ideas, character, faux painted walls and great artwork looked like a a pretty basic square room, nothing less, nothing more.
As did other rooms. The emotion was slowly going away as the items filled with energy, meaning and emotion were either sold or packed away. We’ve all been there!
The patio with the hammock dismantled and those surrounding urban views.
Did I mention the views? We were sad to say goodbye to those glorious urban views from our apartment in the City by the Bay! If you’re over 40, you likely remember Journey’s Lights, with a smile. It had been so long since I had rural views, water views, mountain views or anything in between, that my main connection to life itself had become urban.
Below, Anthony and I exhausted on our couch on one of the final nights in our San Francisco abode.
The Inevitable Garage Sale
If you’re planning a move, chances are you’ll want to sell some items, which we did. While it can be tough to get much through a garage sale (or frankly through Craig’s List or Next Door), we made the attempt. At the very least, it’s therapeutic and declutters some of your life before you make a transition to a new one. And so, Anthony and I prepared for a garage sale and to our surprise, countless of our friends showed up to help and share burgers, beer and wine with us all day long.
Because I spent so many years in tech marketing, I was astounded by how many CDs I found programmed with some of the oldest software you can think of…..a lifetime of technology launches and events flashed before my eyes as our friend Steve forced me to part with them. Why I had a hard time getting rid of them is beyond me.
A brisk day, the ambiance was perfect. Surrounded by some of our favorite people, we ate and drank while people came by and left with some of our stuff. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure as they say and we have always found that to be the case. I never saw the stuff we wanted to part with as junk of course, but a lot of it was old, from technology and purses to clothing, dishes and kitchen pots and beyond. I even had stuffed animals, several of which I gave away to children who came by with their parents.
Moving with California Movers
I reached out to several moving companies in the local area and avoided the national chains — they’re always more expensive and I find over-rated. We also had a piano that needed to go along with us and let’s just say, we were a bit concerned. Truthfully, I couldn’t remember how it got up those narrow stairs with a turn and thought that perhaps we had brought it over the balcony. Most moving companies won’t do that, so it either needs to fit or it could stay behind.
The guys from California Movers gave us a really great deal, with the idea of course that we might write about our experience, positive or negative, but simply write about it. One of the things we loved about their approach versus some of the others is how flexible and casual they were about it. I “get” that structure and rules brings about some comfort when you’re going through something as stressful as a move, however when the rules and parameters are so strict, you find yourself stressing more. For example, some companies charge extra for every wardrobe box whereas others throw them in (they’re only used temporarily so I find it absurd that companies would charge extra for them). Other companies don’t move pianos….period. Some will move uprights but not grand pianos. And, if your move goes over the allotted time, there are extra charges. You get the idea.
Luckily, California Movers handles pianos and Nick and Tony put my mind at ease about how the day would be handled. They also informed me in advance that they would likely go over the allotted time but no more than 2-3 hours was their best guestimate. It turned out to be a little longer than that, but not by much and one of the delays of course, was moving the piano.
As organized as we could have been with only three hours of sleep the night before, we got up early and prepared a large pot of coffee and bagels for the moving team in our small, anti-quainted retro kitchen on the second floor. Alas, the moving truck from California Movers arrived and although there was rain in the forecast, luckily the heavens from above blessed us with a dry day all day and into the evening.
They came with a team of four guys and although they didn’t look BIG (I guess I was expecting tons of muscles), I was astonished at how well prepared they were — there was no box too big or heavy for them to handle. It turns out that being nimble, quick and getting through smaller spaces while you move is even more vital, something I learned from observing the process. And technique matters a lot.
For furniture, they used blankets and protected the corners of each piece. They brought plenty of wardrobe boxes and we were not charged extra for their use.
When it got to the piano, things got a little tricky. The narrow San Francisco hallway really wasn’t meant for a large upright piano and for well over an hour, they were stuck in the middle of the hallway debating how to get it around the corner. In Russian, a strategy was discussed, which oddly enough put my mind at ease somehow. There was a moment (or two) we all didn’t think the piano would make it and suddenly a miracle came, not long after a thoughtful discussion about all the options of making it work. When in doubt and it’s “technical,” bring on the Russians. The beauty in watching the process was how little they stressed, but just persevered.
Quite frankly, I don’t think any moving company would have handled this process so seamlessly. I’m not saying that there weren’t “tense” moments as there would be moving ANY piano, but at the end of the day, we didn’t have to hire a piano moving company separately and our piano made it with no issues to the structure itself. This was a huge relief and the guys made me feel like it was going to work out, even if they weren’t quite sure themselves at times. This is the sign of leadership and great customer service.
We had to make a few runs which included crossing the Golden Gate Bridge — 1980’s music, pizza and soda, the latter of which we never eat, were all part of the journey.
The old wooden door from Caroga Lake, which three generations of our family (and friends) have all signed, made it as well — across country and then through yet another move.
Two thumbs up for our team at California Movers who worked tirelessly to get our fragile and not so fragile objects to our new home. And for most of the day, they did so with a smile and always with utmost professionalism. We definitely recommend them for your move if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area or Northern California. Be sure to watch our video below from that glorious day.
Below is a video which summarizes our moving day with California Movers. Enjoy! And, for more information on California Movers, visit their website — ask for Nick or Tony and they’ll take care of you!