A little more than two years ago, I accepted a reporting position in Kansas and moved halfway across the country.
Last month, I accepted a new position in North Carolina, and, once again, had to move thousands of miles. These are the things I learned and observed along the way.
You have more stuff than you think
In Kansas, I lived in a tiny basement apartment. To put it into perspective, I didn’t have counters in the kitchen, the ceiling in the bathroom gave me (5’5″) just enough room to move around, and my living room couch was about seven feet from my bed.
Yet, somehow, I managed to cram boxes upon boxes of stuff into that apartment. Once you’re forced to pack up all of your worldly possessions, it becomes very clear what you care about.
Apparently, I care a great deal about books, movies, music and video games. Not that, that’s a shock to anyone. I would say about half of my boxes were dedicated to words and stories and ideas.
And I’m fine with that.
Moving is more expensive than you think
I had to move about a thousand miles. It’s certainly not a short move but I really had no idea how much it would cost me.
The U-Haul truck alone, not including gas and hotels, was about $1,000. That might not be a terribly exorbitant amount of money to some of you, but, remember, I work in the illustrious field of journalism.
It’s lucky that I was paid for all my sick days and vacation days when I left my old job. If that weren’t the case, I probably would have had to ask my family for a loan–A loan to move on to a better opportunity, which seems ass backward.
Walkie Talkies are cool
Okay, so I already knew this. When I worked as a cart monkey at Sam’s Club, they gave us Walkie Talkies to communicate with the higher-ups inside, which was literally everyone else.
However, for the most part, we used them to quote Star Wars: “Red five to Gold leader,” “Stay on target” and of course Chewbacca’s growl.
To say our bosses were displeased would be an understatement. And, listen, I’m not exactly CEO material, but I know if you give a bunch of 19-year-olds at a mind-numbing job Walkie Talkies, they won’t use them properly.
Anyway, my mom came down so she could drive my car, while I drove the moving truck. She brought a set of Walkie Talkies from work so we could communicate on the road.
She immediately undercut the coolness of the Walkie Talkies, though. After she contacted me, I jokingly said “Roger, roger” like one of the battle droids from Episode 1. My mom quickly responded with, “Okay, roger Baby Bear.”
You’re not a man (or woman) until you drive a moving truck
I drive a coupe that sits quite low to the ground, so I knew driving a truck the size of an adolescent elephant would be a challenge.
I didn’t realize that the cargo area would act like a sail in the strong Kansas winds. Gusts of wind tried to push me and all of my possessions off the road at every turn as they hit the side of the truck. It wasn’t especially helpful that it was also raining as we embarked on our trip.
But besides that, other motorists generally don’t care that you’re driving a vehicle you’ve had virtually no practice maneuvering. They just want to get to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.
Driving that thing through the mountains presented an entirely new challenge. It was essentially like driving a boxcar derby racer the size of house, which is to say no breaks, almost zero turning radius and a reckless disregard for anything around it.
An empty apartment is scary
I complained about my cardboard box of an apartment in Kansas, but I really did love that little place…and not just because it was a block from every bar in town. I mean, that helped.
It was small, and sometimes inconvenient, but it had character. Maybe I just feel like that because it’s the longest I’ve ever rented one place. I suppose I became comfortable there.
But seeing it empty was a shock. It was a physical representation of all the memories and friends I would be leaving. Packed up. Gone. However, I didn’t realize the sight of a new empty apartment would be worse. My new place is nice–an objective observer would say it’s nicer than my last–but it’s also unfamiliar. When I walked in for the first time, it was cold, sterile. There were no memories or emotions attached to it.
I guess that’s the point, though. Along with accepting my new job, I made a tacit agreement with myself to create new memories and make new friends. Looks like I better get to work.