Tonight I was going back through old drafts of blogs I had started and never finished and there were some real wacky ones in there. Unfortunately, most of them are doomed to stay in the draft file collecting cyber dust because I can’t for the life of me remember where I was going with them. But, lucky you, I found this one fully finished and unpublished for reasons I don’t remember. So here you go! Enjoy this little throwback to August and possibly the worst move of my life! Cheers!
Have you ever caught a total stranger off guard in their pajamas by walking out of the back room of their house completely uninvited and unannounced? No? I have. Twice. It was as awkward as you would imagine it to be.
Let me back up.
I don’t know about you, but I hate moving. Truly. Deeply. With a hatred so pure and poisonous that if it were to ever be condensed into a liquid form it would kill on contact. If you don’t count periods of transition — of which I have had many — I completed my 9th move this past week and it was a pretty heinous affair (I say “completed” as though the majority of my furniture isn’t still in my sister’s basement in Winston).
What made this particular move so bad? Well, let me tell you. It started with a series of paperwork in the days and weeks leading up to the move. For one reason or another, my apartment complex changed my lease on 4 separate occasions, the final switch being only a matter of days before I moved. It was a hassle, but it was finally sorted. On the day of the move, I attended a doctor’s appointment with my sister that lasted FAR longer than it should have. As a result, we had to pack my bags into our cars in a mad frenzy and race towards Raleigh in the hopes that we would arrive before my apartment’s leasing office closed.
According to the GPS, we would get there with 20 minutes to spare. According to the universe, we would most certainly not. We hit accident traffic not once but TWICE that made everything come to an absolute standstill. I watched our ETA climb steadily, and in a panic, called the leasing office to beg them to stay open just a few minutes past 5 so that I could pick up my key.
Begrudgingly, they agreed.
I’m sure the feeling of helplessness that slowly squeezed the life out of me for the duration of that drive is one that just about everyone can relate to — the feeling of having a hard deadline that you are powerless to meet as you slowly inch forward in traffic. But for the sake of everyone’s sanity — mine especially — let’s fast forward through the grizzly details of one of the longest hours of my life, to the moment when we finally pulled into the parking lot (going roughly 75 mph) and ran up to the office at 5:03pm.
The door was locked.
I knocked… I knocked louder… I all but pounded down the door.
An old man grumpily poked his head out, “WE’RE CLOSED.”
“Sir, I know, but I called ahead. I just need my key.”
“I said we’re closed.”
“Listen, I’ll be two minutes. Please, just give me my key. I have all of my stuff with me and nowhere to put it if you don’t let me into my apartment.”
He gave me the stink eye and slowly opened the door.
I ran into the office of the lady who had been helping me since I first contacted the complex about living there.
“Hi, here’s my rent check. I just need my key” I said.
“Yes, did you change your renters insurance?”
me: *dies on the inside* “What?”
“You changed units, remember? You have to change the address on the renters insurance.”
Right on cue the old man wandered by and grumbled. Angry at my continued presence in the office and the fact that I was not just picking up my key after all.
As quickly as possible I called the insurance company and changed the necessary information on my policy. Finally, it was sorted and she gave me my key. She walked me to the unit (to make sure the key actually worked) while I showered her with apologies and thank yous for helping me. As we were turning the key in the lock on the front door it occurred to me to ask, “Did you tell the people living her that I’m moving in today?”
“No” she said absentmindedly, “I normally do, but I didn’t have time to let them know.”
Immediately a giant rock slammed into my stomach. I prayed that they would both be in the living room when the door opened so the leasing office employee could explain that I was moving in. They weren’t. In fact, there was very little in the apartment to indicate that anyone actively lived there at all. Ten assorted and unmatched chairs lined two walls, a glass table without chairs sat against another. Two large box TVs sat unplugged and unused in different spots in the room. One random piece of ugly duct tape art hung lonesomely on an otherwise empty wall. An abandoned copy of the Al Anon handbook sat in a thick layer of dust on the floor in the corner
Did people really live here or was it a storage unit?
The woman helping me looked around at the scuffed and dingy walls, “It needs painted in here. Put in a work order for that and have a nice weekend.”
My sister and I looked around, and after whispering uncomfortably about what we should do, we began to unload my stuff. It was at this point (walking from my room back to my car for the next armful) that I startled my first roommate. She was in her pajamas and beginning a load of laundry.
I explained my presence in her house and introduced myself. She said her name.
I didn’t catch it.
I asked her to repeat it.
I still didn’t catch it.
To this day (one entire week of living together later) I’m still not sure what her name is. I’ve actually only seen her twice in passing since that initial meeting.
**EDIT** It would be two more weeks before I learned her name. She’s lovely and we get along quite nicely now when our paths cross.
Fast forward about forty-five minutes and I sprang myself on my other roommate (also in her pajamas) and repeat the same uncomfortable encounter — except I did catch her name. Aside from briefly introducing her to my fiancé and his mom later that night, I have not seen her again since then.
**EDIT** we now talk nearly nightly and she’s walked with me through the ups and downs of all of my radical life choices since arriving in Raleigh. She is also lovely.
Honestly, the only evidence that I even have roommates is that sometimes dishes are sitting in a different place in the kitchen than they were the last time I was in there. Oh, and one of them set off the fire alarm at about 6 this morning and then apologized to the other one when she came out of her room to see what was going on which I could hear perfectly from my bed thanks to paper thin walls.
But back to my move. Fast forward through the next couple of hours in which I went and picked up a bed/set it up/made it/said goodbye to the people who came to help me/ and suddenly found myself standing alone in the middle of my unpacked room. It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have any wifi (I figured that either the apartment would offer it as a part of utilities or that my roommates would already have a router and I could chip in on the bill… neither proved to be true). I knew that I had a conference at the University first thing the next day, but I didn’t know when or where or how to get there.
Tired but resolved, I drove around Raleigh until I got to I-40. I drove down 40 until I got to an exit that had a food sign for McDonalds (aka free wifi). I exited and drove until I got to the McDonalds — it was closed and under construction. I kept driving until I found a Harris Teeter. I wandered through the store looking for the bathroom when some guy called after me, “Hey man, sick hair!”
“Thanks!” I said, feeling a little bolstered by the compliment.
“….ma’am” he quickly corrected upon hearing my voice.
Aaaaaand I deflated again. I thought man had been a colloquialism.
Eventually I found the bathroom where I sat for an hour, looking up details for the conference and trying to get my phone to let me add data to my plan so I could use it for maps to get home (it would be 2 more hours at a Starbucks the next day before I conquered the data problem). Finally I gave up and went “home” to the weirdly empty apartment with ghost roommates and no furniture and cried about how much I hate moving.
One week later, things are mostly better. I’ve unpacked a bit and I spend most of my time on campus anyway (let’s be honest, the library will always be my home–the apartment is just where I sleep). After three absurdly long orientations, I am ready to start my job and excited to delve into my program.
**EDIT** Spoiler, it didn’t work out.
As I get to know the city, Raleigh is slowly worming its way into my heart despite all of my meltdowns along the way.
If this were an adventure novel I am fairly confident that I would be the main character’s whiney (but endearing) sidekick. I’m not sure if it’s considered acceptable to be the sidekick in your own life story, but it’s a role with which I am quite comfortable. 😉
Oh how three months can change everything! My living room is furnished, my roommates are not strangers (and I even gained a 3rd), my room is unpacked (but messy as ever), the university library is no longer my home, I am marvelously content with where I’m at, and as I’ve learned to take ownership of how my story unfolds, I am slowly becoming the main character. How’s that for a happy new beginning? (because it is certainly not my ending)
Until next time,
I'm nobody with the urge to be somebody and a gift for telling stories. My hope is to use this site to hone my writing for a wider audience than college professors and family friends. So cheers to you, dear reader! Please let me know what you think