The First Weekend
The first weekend was July 4th. I took a Friday off and created a four-day weekend where I drove up with the wife and the Labs to stay at the local Red Roof Inn at Monroe and I-10. That weekend we started the long process to get Meg's student apartment organized, boxed and cleaned so she could move out by 31 July. You'd think that starting this early we'd have had plenty of time to get it all sorted and her moved out. That wasn't the way it would turn out.
It was a holiday weekend. It was also a full month since we'd last seen Megs (graduation), so we treated it more like a holiday than a working weekend. We wound up spending time at two state parks (Wakulla and St. Marks), taking photographs as father and daughter while mom tagged along viewing the scenery. The Labs came along, as they always do, and were pretty good pups, preferring to spend their time in air-conditioned comfort while the Cartoon Channel played back-to-back episodes of Scooby-Doo. Max got to spend time with his "original" person; it was Megs who adopted Max when he was a six-month-old juvenile delinquent runaway pup.
The next weekend was one I drove up by myself. I worked at home that Friday and then left for Tallahassee around 3:30pm. When I travel by myself I can make the best time, which is usually 4 1/2 hours from Orlando to Tallahassee. If I take the wife and the Labs you can be sure to had another hour to hour-and-a-half to the trip for stop-overs and a meal and whatever.
We actually got a fair amount done. I started to pull items together and get them boxed, and them to help her organize the packed items to get them ready to be moved later on as well as open up more space to work in the apartment.
The apartment was a 1 bedroom with a kitchenette and combined living/dining room. She'd managed to shoehorn a foldout couch, a table and four chairs, and several other pieces of furniture including an old 27" Sony T.V. we'd sent up to her years ago. During that weekend we gave the T.V. to Goodwill and got rid of some other items. I purchased her a vacuum cleaner since the one she had didn't do very much.
She'd spent the last two years as an art student. After two years and the small apartment was crammed full of books and projects and personal history, that needed to be sorted out and boxed up or tossed. It was a far cry from the clean and empty place I'd first moved her into. When I left that weekend I felt sure it would only take one more weekend.
July had five weekends. The middle third weekend was spent in Orlando. I needed to do work around the house.
The fourth weekend was another trek with the entire troop (wife + Labs) back up to Tallahassee. That was the weekend punctuated with the Norway terrorism and Amy Winehouse's tragic death. Meg's had started to work full time (40 hour weeks) and hadn't made much progress in the two weeks I'd been away. I was glad she had a full-time job (without medical benefits, unfortunately).
This time I kept an eye on the Labs while I let Megs and the wife work together in Megs' apartment. I'd show up to get rid of certain items or try to move stuff around. The place was slowly, arduously, getting cleaned up and organized. Because it hadn't been cleaned for years, I wound up vacuuming and mopping multiple times to get the dust and dirt up.
The fourth weekend was also the weekend I supposedly reserved a U-Haul van for moving the heavy stuff from her apartment to a storage locker up on Thomasville Road. We got advice from both U-Haul and the storage place that turned out later to be wrong, But in the end we worked around it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
On the Sunday of that weekend I drove home with the Labs, leaving the wife to stay with Megs. Megs had an air mattress for the wife to sleep on, and the wife was going to help Megs finally finish up.
The final weekend, this past weekend, turned out to be one of the worst I've ever spent up in Tallahassee. I'd taken two days of personal time starting on Thursday, spending the morning cleaning up around the house in preparation to packing and heading back up to Tallahassee with the Labs.
The trip back with just the Labs only took a half hour longer than normal. I stopped twice at rest areas for them, but otherwise just kept on driving until I hit the Red Roof on I-10 and Monroe. We'd spend every weekend in July at that Red Roof, to the point where Clarence Greene knew me by sight and greeted me as "Mr. Beebe" every time I checked in.
When I got there early Thursday evening I went over to see what kind of progress had been made in my absence. More stuff had been packed, but it was still going painfully slow. Like the drama playing out in Washington over the debt limit, this move was taking a long longer than normal and it was coming down to the wire.
Friday morning was spent renting a 10x10ft storage locker up on Thomasville Road. I discovered that we could have reserved a 10x5, the size we really wanted, with a $10 deposit the prior weekend when they still had a few left. Except the woman who waited on my wife and daughter earlier in the week hadn't bothered to tell them that. As it turned out the 10x10 was a better choice, allowing me to leave a cleared out path down the middle, placing furniture and boxes on either side. That meant Megs could go in and find anything without having to unpack the locker into the hallway. And the monthly cost of the 10x10 was only a little higher than the cost of the 10x5. Which was cheaper than when I had to do this for my first daughter a few years back. With the rental taken care of we drove to get the van.
When I got to the U-Haul I discovered that my so-called guaranteed U-Haul van wasn't guaranteed after all. The stoned slackers running the U-Haul on North Monroe near Lake Ella called to tell us that my guaranteed two-day rental to pick up at 11am had somehow been switched to a four-hour rental from 8 to noon that Friday. I was absolutely furious. They didn't give a damn. That weekend was a moving weekend for every student in Tallahassee (FSU and FAMU) and every single truck rental was reserved or being used at that time. Apparently this occurs at this time every year. I'd managed to miss it since 2004 because neither girl had had to move during a first weekend in August. This time my luck ran out.
We drove down to another U-Haul on East Tennessee, the same place that the last weekend had said they had nothing to reserve. The crew at that U-Haul were much more professional and managed to find a van for me to use from 5pm to 9am on Saturday. I said "fine" and planned to move through the night.
At 5:30 I got the van, drove over to the apartment, and moved the sofa, chests, a lot of boxes, side tables, book shelves, and anything else that could fit in the van and drove it up to the storage locker. That was run #1. Go back to the apartment and pull more boxes and other loose articles out and store them in the van. We head up to the storage locker and get there at 9pm. We load up two carts, take them up and store the items, then had back down to get two more loads.
Turns out the storage facility is only open until 10pm at night. Megs and I didn't realize this until we tried to go back in at 10:05 with our next and final loads. Couldn't punch in. That's when we noticed the small print on the far door as to the hours. So I loaded the van back up and left the carts out of the facility, drove Megs back to her place, then drove back to the Red Roof to crash.
Up 6am Saturday. Walk the dogs. Dress, then drive from the Red Roof on I-10 over to Thomasville Road to drive back up to the storage place. Remember I left the key to the storage locker at the motel. Turn around, drive back, grab the keys, loop back to Thomasville and finally get to the storage area. I'm the only one there.
Grab a cart, start moving stuff out of the van and up to the storage locker. Make two trips by myself. On the third trip come down to a coaching staff pulling out racks full of helmets and pads for football practice. In the hot August Tallahassee heat.
I finally got everything stored. Stopped at the local Walmart to pick up an Allen wrench set so we could take the bed apart. Megs had lost the wrench that came with it. It's now 9am, and I still have to stop and get some gas for the van. I'm a little late, but there's so much traffic I have to wait to drive up to the U-Haul store. While waiting I get a text message that I'm late checking in. Hey folks, look outside I think to myself. But I get out and rather than wait in the line that snakes through the store, I just let one of the guys outside know the van is there and they flag me on. Later I get an email for $60 for the complete rental, which isn't all that bad.
We spent the rest of the day picking through the aftermath in her apartment. I pull the bed apart and get it in her Volvo, along with more boxes. A few more trips to the storage locker to put all that in.
Meg's move goes to prove a major engineering law with regards to scheduling: 90% of a job can be done in 90% of the time. The last 10% takes the other 90%. We were down to the last 10% of the "stuff" in Meg's apartment.
Meg's move also uncovers a deep psychological truth with women: Moving is more than just moving stuff. It's an unwinding of all their memories. They stop and think about what everything means, and agonize over what to do with a lot of it. I've seen my wife go through this, and now both girls. And as surely as the sun rises in the east, I'll live through all this again.
For the month of August Meg's will be staying with a friend until she can find a more permanent place, hopefully with a roommate to split the rent. She's moved on to the next great stage in her life, trying to find a place to live on her own. I'm hoping and praying the Volvo hangs together long enough for her to live in Tallahassee. The friend's apartment is only a few minutes away from her job at FSU, but unlike her student apartment, she can't walk to work if the Volvo decides to break down (again). So I'm now living in fear, hoping she doesn't wind up out on the street living out of the Volvo that won't run. I obviously won't leave her there (she can certainly come back home), but she's determined to make her own way. She has a plan to eventually move to Austin Texas in a year. A plan that includes living and saving in Tallahassee, while she sends out letters and resumes. Her mom and dad are rooting for her.