Moving is never easy, for many reasons; from boxing up belongings, placing items into storage, selling and donating unused items to dealing with the emotional ramifications of starting over somewhere new; leaving old friends and making new ones. My husband has a beautiful way of describing his connection to past homes. He talks about learning the rhythms of a house.
His keys jingle in his hands as he fingers the house key and glides it into the lock, turning it clockwise; it opens easily. He takes his shoes off in the entryway, setting them down on the bamboo shoe rack and stepping onto the soft carpet, which gives way under his heavy, but gentle step. The sound of his keys and wallet make a clinking and light thud as he sets them on my desk to his left. The sun is bright coming through the windows as it passes between the plantation shutters. He squints then looks away. Turning, he takes ten steps to the base of the stairs, smelling the aroma of something delicious coming from the kitchen. Ten more steps up the stairs to the landing, feeling the smooth banister, his left shoulder brushes the art on the wall, then six more steps to the top of the stairs, where the temperature increases by 8 degrees. As he turns left and walks just three short steps past our son’s room on the right, he tip-toes, not to wake him.
These rhythms become part of who we are. We become one with our homes. So moving is more than just putting belongings into a box and giving a forwarding address to the post office. And, moving to another country has even more challenges. I knew that we would have to make some lifestyle changes by moving to London, but giving up our ‘greeness’ wasn’t one of them.
So in preparation for our move we had three separate garage sales. I posted several Craigslist ads and sold everything we no longer used, or felt we didn’t need to bring to London. At the end of the third yard sale, all left over items were donated to Goodwill, a nursing home and some folks who came by from our “free ad”. The items we really love and want when we return went into storage.
I took a trip to the local dump to dispose of items too large for pickup and for toxic items that they dispose of properly, like windshield wiper fluid, paint and batteries. I made a trip to the pharmacy to properly dispose of out-dated prescription and over-the-counter medications, like some old Benadryl I had found. I went by my veterinarian’s office and returned an unused bottle of my cat’s medication after he passed away just a month before our move.
Next, we sold our cars. My husband’s prized black Mustang GT with the white stripes that he could never quite get clean sold first. There was always some yellow-y spotting on them. But he loved this car, regardless. He rarely took it out though, since he worked from home. Not a very green car, I know. But we sold it, as well as, my car and my mom’s car, since she was moving with us. We were moving to London where there is great public transport and everybody walks. Plus, we were getting a company car if I really wanted to learn to drive there.
We didn’t have much control over our packing supplies. My husband’s new employer paid for the moving company to come and pack us up and ship us overseas. I was happy to see that they used paper over plastic, even for breakable items. I only hope it was recycled paper. All of our belongings were headed for a ship and would arrive 4-6 weeks later. We kept out a few items to live with until we could be reunited with our things.
The final days before we left, my husband was in Shanghai working, so my mom, my 2 year old and I prepared to vacate. First, the furniture rental company came and picked up our rented furniture. We just had some basics – a table, couch and recliner. We returned the air mattresses to our friend and placed the other items back into storage or gave them away. Then we did a nice, green clean on the house we were renting. We used Vermont Organic soap for the fridge, floors, toilets, cabinets and counter tops, vinegar and water for the windows, Shaklee Scour Off paste for the stove top and porcelain, and a hepa vacuum cleaner for the carpets. We also had a professional steam cleaning company come in and steam clean the carpets. No toxic chemicals – because that’s how we roll in our home.
We did the walk-though of the property with our landlord, who was thrilled with the condition of the house. He said it looked like we never lived there. It was that clean. But, boy did we do some living in that house! My son turned one and took his first steps in that house. We had a big costume Halloween Party there. We had loads of play and running around in that house. We had crayons on the wall and play dough in the carpet. Our beloved 14 year old dog, Diego died while we lived there and our sweet cat, Oscar died in the backyard just a month before. My son fractured his tibia, got a cast and turned two in the same day while we lived there. I planted vegetables and canned jam. I made birthday cakes and baby food there. We had peaceful afternoons rocking and nursing and loving in that house. If only our landlord knew how much living we actually did there.
The last two days we spent in a nearby hotel with a rental car. I took one final trip to the storage unit to drop off some things and then we rested in the hotel from all the hard work we had done. The day of our flight I had one last thing to do. We packed up the car with our suitcases, passports and visas and headed to San Francisco International Airport. But on the way, I had one more stop to make. I exited the freeway to visit my local Aveda store to drop off a bag of caps I had been collecting for months. I ran in and handed the bag to a young girl at the counter, who laughed when I said I was running late to move out of the country but had to get these to her!
All that good karma and I still got rear-ended on the way to the airport! Fortunately, my Mom, son and I arrived in the nick of time and got buckled into our seats. Now we are ready to embrace our new life and home, and slowly our bodies will attune to the rhythms of our new home in an old Victorian brick building with lots of creaky floor boards and 3 flights of stairs to climb. We look forward to becoming part of our new home and creating more memories along the way. I will continue to share my thoughts and musings on motherhood and our path to sustainability from across the pond. So keep an eye out for more posts from Pure Mum!
Anyone have any green moving tips or stories to share?