Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Leaving On A Jetplane....

As many of you may already be aware, in just under a week I will embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life. I will pack up the last of my belongings--the ones that aren't in storage waiting for the movers--board a plane, and fly across the country to my new home. A home that, as of yet, I do not have.

Now, I know it's been blogged about in a thousand places before and it will be blogged about in a hundred places after, but I am here to tell you that an Army Move is exponentially more stressful than any normal move. Not only am I moving some 2000 miles away from my dearest friends and my family, I am going with no arrangements for housing and my belongings following behind. Sure, we're on a waiting list (8/33, the last time I checked), but there are no concrete plans. At worst, we'll be slapped into the on-base hotel until our apartment is available. At best, our apartment will be ready when we arrive. I'm not holding my breath for that.

To add insult to injury, our previous landlords would not give an inch on our move out date. They had been informed that our tentative move out date would be March 22, 10 days after my husbands graduation date. We told them that it was subject to change, nothing is concrete in the military. However, they wrote down simply the 22nd. Imagine my surprise and frustration when I called to let them know that our actual move out date would be something like April 2nd and they flat out refused to let us stay! We were told that we could vacate the apartment by the 22nd or we could stay until the second and pay them an additional two months worth of rent. Or, we could choose to stay, not pay the rent, and be evicted.

Thus began one of the most stressful weeks I have ever lived through.

I got off the phone, sucked up my pride and called my brother-in-law. He readily agreed to let us crash in his basement for the several weeks we had left, and then I called my mom for boxes. She'd known this was coming and set several dozen aside from her recent move.

Now, I have never considered myself much of a slob. I have also always thought of myself as an obsessive de-junker, much like my dear mother. I would tell myself that material belongings mean nothing to me. I was wrong. I spent all of that week sorting through what we would be keeping and what we would be giving away, under the (mistaken) impression that we would only be allowed to move 800 pounds worth of our belongings. Three days and two dumpters full of garbage and discarded belongings, we'd pared it down to the essentials. My coffee maker was gone, the microwave, the kitchen table and chairs, the various shelving units not dedicated to books. All of it gone to those less fortunate or the way of the landfill. I cried when my husband--aided by my older niece and nephew--carried out several bolts of fabric that had been partially damaged in our ceiling collapse fiasco over the summer.

When he gently suggested that I could maybe cut down on the number of books now sitting in the dozen or so boxes surrounding us, I put my foot down. Actually, I stomped it several times and threw a proper temper tantrum, the first of many minor melt downs. He let me keep all of them.

Now, it was time to pack. Normally we'd have some wonderful men in jump suits come in and do this all for us on the Army's dime, but because we had less than a week to be out and they needed 8 days notice, it just wasn't going to happen. So, I started sorting and packing. It took far longer than I had really anticipated, and when mom showed up to help get some of the work down, I once again broke down into tears. Though it took four days, I was absolutely convinced it would take an elephant standing on my boxes to break what little we'd saved.

For those of you facing a move in your future, let me offer this little bit of insight. Do not pack up every single one of your dishes at the beginning of a move. By day three, we were living on pizza and soda out of the bottle.

The move went smoothly. Several trips to the storage shed we'd rented out, no mishaps or dropped boxes. Everything was wonderful and we'd finally be installed into the dim basement we would call home for the next couple of weeks. I was spending time with my mom and my nieces and nephew, we had our plan tickets arranged, our housing was finally arranged and we had an appointment to sign our contracts. Wonderful.

Then things began to go wrong. First, we were informed that if we were not on Fort Meade at the Housing Office at 9 AM on April 1, we'd have to pay a cash deposit or lose our apartment. This was followed by a frantic call to the transportation office to rearrange our plane tickets. We asked if we could leave on the 31st instead of on the second as we had planned, and they agreed. The next day, my husband gets a phone call from one of his AIT classmates saying that he has my husbands orders. At Fort Bragg. 700 miles away from where we need them to be. This means, of course, that my husband has this other man's orders. In Utah. This was quickly taken care of by the Sergeants at the recruiters office and we take a deep breath, count to ten, and pick up the phone again.

This time, we're getting a hold of the movers. They just want to know what day is pickup and about how much weight we're moving. We don't know how much weight it is, having never had to think about our belongings that way before, and they ask to meet us at the storage shed so they can estimate later this week. We're fine with this, of course, wanting to be as helpful as we can. This is when the man we are speaking to informs us that they will be unpacking and repacking everything we've just spent the last week lovingly wrapping up, so they can create an inventory list. Wonderful. Cue yet another micro melt-down.

Finally, my husband calls to verify our flight information and they inform us that they haven't actually purchased our tickets. Until he faxes his orders in, they've placed everything on hold. Alright, no big deal. Stephen promises to get them faxed in the morning. As he was getting off the phone, they said, "You do know that we've only purchased a plane ticket for your wife, correct? HRAP travel isn't paid for." So, now we have one plane ticket to Baltimore and we have to be there on the 31st. Having understood this to all be taken care of, we'd spent what little money we had on packing materials, which will be thrown away April 1 when the movers repack everything, and an upgraded storage shed to keep the thousands of dollars worth of books from being damaged. Great.

The husband has said he will try and straighten everything out in the morning and we will see. At this point, all I can do is wait. Carpe Diem, they say. What an exciting adventure, and its only just begun.