5. Moving In

Somehow I managed to survive the process of getting here, which I liken to crawling through a field of broken glass, and I was certain it shaved months off of my life. Friday, 7 October 2022 marked the worst day by far of the entire ordeal. And I have only myself to blame: I was not thrilled by the estimate I got from one moving company, so I shopped around and found a mover willing to do it for less than half. But you get what you pay for. They were scheduled to arrive by 8:00 AM. By 9:00 AM I was on the phone with them. "Oh, my driver called out sick. I can be there by noon." That wouldn't do, so I told him 2:00 PM. He agreed. 3:00 rolled around, and I called them again, and heard, "Are you located at such-and-such a church?" "What?!? No!" He'd entered the wrong address on his GPS.

By 3:30, the one mover (it was supposed to be two) had finally showed up and started packing my stuff in his panel van (it was supposed to be a box truck). I cringed the whole time since it was obvious he paid no attention to the big red FRAGILE stickers on some of the boxes. Fearing he'd repeat the GPS error, I told him to follow us. And, when we made our first turn, he went straight. We stopped and I started yelling at him on the phone; a few blocks away he caught up. We started driving much slower at turns, and even used hand signals in addition to turn signals, and he still missed one turn, consequently winding up stuck diagonally across two solid lanes of traffic amidst a chorus of car horns.

And it still wasn't over. Once he offloaded his van, we had a "discussion" about payment. "Oh, we don't take checks." "The guy that booked this didn't say anything about cash only," I advised him as I stuffed a check in his hand. I found it odd—yet oddly not surprising—that our wayward mover had to verify the spelling of his own brother's name with him on the phone. We bid the little jerk farewell, and then I asked my ride to take me to the nearest bar-restaurant. We'd planned on making one more trip to get the cats, but I was far, far too shot to function any longer. And so I slept in my new home that night, alone, on a mattress on the floor. Too tired to sleep, I just listened to strange sounds in a strange place.

The next morning we went to retrieve the kids, which involved one last scare—one that very nearly stopped my heart. When I put my pillows and bedcovers in the car, out of the bundle popped Pris! She leapt out of the car and disappeared in a flash. I searched around frantically, desperately, and nearly fainted in utter terror. I'm not sure why, but after a moment, I staggered back into the house, where I saw her trying her best to crawl into a now-blocked cubby. Somehow she'd instantly managed to figure out how to get back inside, even though she'd never spent one second outside. Thankfully the front door was open; otherwise I've no idea what she might have done. I wasted no time getting them both into their carriers—a brutal process in and of itself—then spent the next hour trying in vain to calm back down, as I bled all over my ride's new car.

Naturally, upon their arrival, the kids were shell-shocked: for the first several hours, Zack hid behind the washer crying, while Pris remained frozen in her carrier. At least that night I had pillows and a comforter on the mattress, which was still on the floor (brand new bedroom furniture was on its way). I was counting on the tattered old comforter providing the cats with something familiar, and sometime after midnight I found them both in bed with me. By morning they were out exploring their new home, returning to some of their old habits and starting some new ones.

As I began the seemingly endless task of unpacking 52 boxes of stuff, I thought, how on Earth did I accumulate so much stuff? And that was after I'd sold/given away/thrown out quite a lot of it already. Then I began thinking about what I'd do to my new home. Although I didn't have to do anything, a few items nagged at me. First of all, the prior owner had one of those old super-compact stacked one-piece washer-dryers ("apartment washers"), even though there was more than enough room for a proper, full-size washer-dryer set, so that became my first major upgrade.

The kitchen was aesthetically fine, but functionally impractical, particularly for someone who loves to cook. Both the refrigerator and the range were jammed into corners: access to the refrigerator was awkward, and cooking was hobbled by the wall. And overall it was much too small—I ran out of space before I ran out of stuff, and that still left me with no room for food. So I immediately began taking measurements to see what I could do with it.

Other changes: I had every intention to replace the ancient gas furnace with a mini-split heat pump, and the water heater with an on-demand unit. These had the potential to knock the utility bills down a fair bit, as well as create new storage space. One of my longer-term projects was a deck. However, when I inquired about how to obtain permission, I was told that permanent additions to homes were now prohibited. That was fine; ultimately, I had a perfectly fine roof over my head, and that's all that really mattered. Still... there was one must-have on my list that would take top priority: a floor-to-ceiling wall mural of a lush woodland scene for the living room—that blue wall had to go. I started work on it even as I unpacked:

Renovating the Renovations

The floorplan above is how it was when I purchased it; below is the "after" version following all of my renovations.

A Little Archeology

What was it like before the prior owner's renovations? Here are some clues.

Above: walls were paneled, which was typical. Below: floors were cheap, gross vinyl.

Work on the kitchen revealed even grosser flooring on top of gross flooring.

Moving On, Part 3 < Index > The Coffin

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