Moving brings a meeting of the minds

Moving brings a meeting of the minds

by Mary Ellen Collin

I love to pack, which makes complete sense for someone who craves order, logic and control. Even when employers pay moving costs, I let the packers pack the breakables, and I happily assemble 80 boxes of everything else.

We now face a job loss-related move back to our old hometown and condo. With no corporate relocation, cost is an issue, but thank God we don't have to revisit the good old days of two friends and a truck. We're going to pay a company to move us, but not to nestle and pack everything that could shatter or crack. Getting our breakables across the state becomes our responsibility.

We decide to take all of our large, framed photographs on our first trip back to check on our condo. A week before departure, I tell John I plan to put all of the photos on the floor and count them so they will be "ready" when it's time to pack. He patiently convinces me that they're safer on the wall, that the packing process will be easy, and that counting isn't really necessary.

I don't have a pause button once I undertake any organizational process, so I turn my attention to packing. I worry our carry-ons might take up too much room, so I dig out duffel bags we haven't used in years. I try three different boxes until I find the smallest one that will accommodate my cleaning supplies. Four days before we leave, I pack the cleaning box and a week's worth of clothes for a long weekend.

When it's time to load the Jeep, John slides the first long photo in vertically. I question his plan; he explains it. I suggest a more space-saving logistical arrangement; he relocates the photo. It's not a contest of wills (but I win).

The long pictures go along the back of the seat. John wedges himself into the back of the vehicle, and I start bringing him the 16 by 20s. I assume he will use hundreds of yards of Bubble Wrap to completely encase every picture, but instead, he rips off small pieces to wrap around the corners of the pictures as he stacks them. I ask why he doesn't use more and he says this will be fine. It's not a contest of wills (but he wins).

Twenty pictures, two duffels, a box of cleaning supplies and one toolbox later, we still have room. We add a box of smaller pictures and a 3-foot-tall pot. I fret about his too-judicious use of Bubble Wrap, so he compromises by wedging in a few pillows to cushion the load. By the time we set off for the other coast, I feel like Ma and Pa Kettle go to St. Petersburg - all we are missing is a bed tied to the roof, and a few kids and dogs hanging out the windows.

We reach our condo and unload everything — perfectly unscathed. One trip down, several more to go, and I'm feeling confident. Thanks to one obsessive strategist and one practical voice of reason, our crystal and china will be in very good hands.

Mary Ellen Collins and her husband, John, live in Boca Raton St. Petersburg, Fla. When she's not grappling with the ups and downs of making a house a home, Mary Ellen reads, does yoga and worries about coming up with column ideas. E-mail her at

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