On Friday afternoon, I left work, but instead of going home, I went to a movie theater on the way. See, at home were all of those judgmental boxes, rolling their eyes at me as I sat on the couch. I’m pretty sure I even heard one of them call me lazy, which is so not true. And besides, it’s only a two-bedroom apartment. What are his friends and he doing hanging around anyway? Freeloaders.
After the movie, I walked the mile and a half home. Grabbing a bus would have been faster, but clearly getting back to my crowded apartment wasn’t my goal. I mean I’m not good at confrontation, and I was dreading telling those boxes that they weren’t welcome to stay if they were just going to be stacked. Seriously, they really needed to help me pack.
When I finally made it to my apartment, my roommate April was back from her week’s travel for work. I’d really been waiting for April’s help before I started packing since she’s way better at organizing than I am. As I’ve mentioned before, I try – I really try – but I can’t wrap my brain around it.
I’d been on-and-off brainstorming all week how I’d go about packing, and each time I only served to get myself in a whirlwind of anxiety. In fact, Friday morning I texted April and asked her to talk me down off a ledge. She was kind enough to call me and tell me that I didn’t really have that much stuff and it wouldn’t even take the whole weekend and I should just calm the heck down and it would be OK. Sigh, that’s all I needed. It worked…for a few hours, at least.
After eating dinner, April asked if I wanted to start packing boxes. Since I was effectively wound tighter than an I-don’t-know-what with nervous energy, I agreed, and we got started. First, we culled through the dresser in the living room, deciding which items were communal (i.e. lease documents) and, more often than not, throwing items in the “recycle” pile. It’s amazing how much unnecessary junk can accumulate in one three-drawer dresser. Papers. Old ethernet and telephone cords. Lightbulbs.
We then moved onto the kitchen with April taking the lead as I finished up the dresser. The weekend before I’d started by packing up dishes and glasses, but there were still plenty of cabinets to empty. Pots and pans. Silverware and cooking utensils. “Do you want these spices? Who bought the aluminum foil? How old is all of this tea?” And the list goes on.
On April’s recommendation, I went to my room with one of my two small carry-on pieces of luggage. She said that everything coming with me to Springer Mountain in Georgia should go into a box, and other items that will/may need to be shipped should go in the carry-on (i.e. extra clothes, spare pair of glasses, etc.). Good idea. That was enough direction to get me moving.
Before the night was out I’d brought down two full loads of recycling and one bag of garbage to the dumpster. And April had effectively filled six boxes with kitchen supplies. I’m still not sure how she did it. I would have taken twice the amount of time and still not have finished the job.
Case in point…
The next morning I woke up at about 7:30 and spent a couple of hours doing some research online for a friend. April slept in until about 10:30, so I figured I’d get started on my bedroom before she woke up. I then spent about an hour flitting around the apartment inefficiently.
The night before, April had said that I should figure out what I want to wear for the next two weeks and put those clothes in my large suitcase. Then everything else from my wardrobe and two closets could be packed up.
So, on Saturday, I figured that’d be a good place to start. I opened the wardrobe, but then a few papers on a neighboring shelf caught my attention. I looked at them and noted that they were receipts from money I’d given to charity in 2012. I thought, “Oh wait, do I need to keep these for the sake of my taxes? Hm, I’d better call my mom” (she’s a CPA…and so much more). “Now, where is my phone? Oh, it’s in the other room.” After the call, I decided the paper had to go in the recycle bin, which meant I had to go back to the living room right away to dispose of it.
“OK, glad that’s done. Now what next? Oh right, picking out clothes for the next two weeks.” After spending two minutes at this task, I threw my hands up in frustration. “How the heck am I supposed to know what and how much I’m going to wear in the next two weeks?!” So, instead, I switched gears, easily pulling out clothes from the wardrobe that I knew I would not wear in that time. This went much more smoothly, and I eventually took those stacks of clothes to the now-empty dresser in the living room for easy transport.
By this point, April had woken up and showered, for which I was grateful since I had hit a wall. She literally talked me through the next two weeks of clothes and told me to box up everything else. Phew! All better. I can do this.
Keep watching this train wreck, folks. It doesn’t get better.
Since the clothes from the wardrobe had already been moved to the dresser, I began on the clothes in my closet – suits, dresses, work pants and shirts. After finishing the first box, I anticipated that I would be able to completely fill one more, so I thought, “OK, where am I going to store this first box?”
We’d run out of space in the living room, so I scanned for a place in my bedroom. I have a small three-tiered folding shelf, and I thought, “Oh, I’ll just fold it up and store it behind my door. Then I can put the box where the shelf currently is.”
The only problem is that the folding shelf had toiletries scattered on it – moisturizing lotions, deodorant, etc. Well, that brought my attention to my toiletries. In addition to the shelf, I had some toiletries in the hall closet that needed to be boxed. I went to April and asked,
“How would it make the most sense to box the toiletries? Should they go in my small Rubbermaid drawer or in a cardboard box?”
“Wait, are you done with the clothes in the closet already?”
“No, I finished the first box, and I’m trying to find a place for it. I was thinking I could move the folding shelf and put it there.”
“Good lord, child. What am I going to do with you? Go get another empty box, put it on top of the full box, and finish emptying clothes from your closet first. Then deal with your toiletries. Finish one task before you start another.”
It’s embarrassing, but this is how my brain works (or doesn’t). Actually, I was hanging out with some girlfriends from college a few months ago, and one of them – who is very well organized and tidy – was lamenting about her husband’s cluttery ways and how she’s talked to him about it “over and over,” to no avail. I immediately came to his defense, explaining how hard and frustrating it can be. When we were in college, I thought I would “grow out of it” when I had my own place, and only recently have I realized that it’s less about “I want to be tidy and well organized” and more about “I can’t figure out how to do this.”
Anyway, this is how it went with the packing until we got to the 90% completion mark, at which point we decided to run errands. The thought process went something like this:
“I’m tired and sick of packing.”
“We’re not done yet.”
“Yeah, but we’re almost done. The forecast is calling for snow. Should we go to Target before the weather turns?”
“I thought you didn’t need anything at Target.”
“I changed my mind. I have a boreal forest growing on my legs. Let’s go get some wax.”
All of a sudden I was very interested in waxing my legs because, let’s face it, I’d rather have torn out the terrified and screaming hairs from each and every pore on my leg than continue packing up my apartment. I wasn’t finished, but I was done – stick-a-fork-in-me done.
I never ended up getting back to the last 10% as errands turned into relaxing turned into not packing. But I still have a few days to finish up the last few boxes. I think it’ll just take me about an hour, and I have an execution plan to keep me on track. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I’m so ready to finish packing and moving. I feel like I’ve been devoting so much emotional energy to it that I haven’t had enough time to start freaking out about my thru-hike. And I’m thinking it’s definitely time for that to take center stage.