Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slowest Moving Miracle

Moving is never fun. International moving is no real exception here. I remember how I moved to Korea so terribly many years ago. I packed a suitcase full of my stuff. Kissed my apartment goodbye, and got on a plane. Seriously, I left pretty much everything else to be dealt with by someone else because dealing with the move was about all I was capable of doing. That worked out like one would expect with some built-in resentments, untied ends, and lost things.

I’ve never been good at things. Or at least the material things. I like collecting them I’m just not very good at keeping them. I used to have things from my past, my childhood. I collected and collected and brought things with me and I can tell you none of the things that made it with me to college made it out of college with me.

Just as many of the things that made that first trip to Korea are not making the final trip home. There are the pictures, the love letters, the photos, the random knick-knacks, the books, jewelry, toys, hearts, and minds, and all these things have gone somewhere else. I just don’t have them anymore. I have new things, more things, always collecting and compressing in on me and I never seem to get rid of them all, even though I try.

As I am trying ever more to deal with possession I have come to realize that it is perhaps it is not the best way to handle life with a trash can. In this move I decided to get an international mover instead of a suitcase, and actually deal with my stuff. Granted the sheer fact of doing that made dealing with all the stuff that much more difficult.

Arrangements were made sometime in October for someone to come and move my apartment. The person I managed to work all this out with spoke English, met the roommate, made a list and explained thow much things would probably cost. I was mostly contented. I set up the move to take place the day before I officially had to be out of my apartment. I made arrangements with my housekeeper to have the apartment cleaned the next day for my landlord. The manager of my move assured me she would keep the costs down and make everything easy. That the movers would take out the trash and do all the packing. Indeed, legally I couldn’t actually touch anything as it would go into the boxes. Having made the arrangements and knowing what to expect, I decided that I would not think about it until it actually happened. Which as with all things happened a lot sooner than later.

The day of the move I woke up on a couch.

The dog was sleeping at my feet snoring loudly. My friend the Irish, who has offered to take me in, was in his room snoring loudly. He and the dog had it timed out perfectly so that when one went quiet the other would fill in making for a perfect and continuous buzzsaw of loud snoring noise. I tossed a pillow at the dog who complained. Sadly I was pretty sure the Irish had locked his door, probably to prevent any pillows from being tossed in his direction.

A day before I had gathered up the possessions that I was keeping on me til I leave Korea. With that I also collected the mass of things the Irish was buying from me for his place, which included a treadmill and some other sundries. He met me at my place around eleven and with the help of the housekeeper a pile of all his things was made for delivery to his apartment. To get the things to the Irish’s place across town I enlisted the help of my bar owner. He called up a bongo truck company to come and move stuff. He met me with the bongo truck around four, and walked in, looked at my apartment, and kinda freaked.

“Hyun, it’s not everything, just this pile, here.”

“Man, you have lots of stuff. What are you going to do with all of it?”

“Most of it will probably get thrown away. The rest I’m moving on Friday.”

“Oh, so yeah, this guy will move the stuff. I told him fifty dollars; is that okay?”


And with that we began to move things down to the bongo. The bongo truck is basically just a flat bed pickup truck. Most of the things went down easily enough, with the boys moving and me directing what needed to go downstairs from upstairs. Since I didn’t want them complaining about my being a slow girl this seemed best. After the third trip down Hyun, the bar owner said, “Look, for fifty, don’t take two trips, move everything you need today, okay.” This meant adding some things that were slated to be moved via cab being thrown into the mix, including the bag o booze and my suitcases. For the most part moving these things was not that bad. It was the treadmill that was the real kicker. I listened as the three of the boys grunted together to get the thing down the stairs. When we got to the other side of town I moved things up the stairs including the dog, and then listened as they moved the treadmill up the second set of stairs. This ended with three grown men hunched over sweating bullets in the middle of December, all of them coatless at this point, and gasping.

I handed out water.

“Look, whatever you do, don’t ever buy one of those things again, it’s motherfucking heavy,” says Hyun.

“Having moved it I honestly never want to see it again,” says the Irish, proud owner of a new treadmill.

The Korean truck driver said nothing, but eventually agreed to drink some water. Once we had made sure everything was out of the truck I paid the man eighty and thanked him for his help. I agreed to see Hyun later in a bar type setting, and bought the Irish dinner.

In the bar type setting Hyun laid into me about the amount of stuff I was just tossing away. Eventually he convinced me that I should try to sell a bunch of the furniture to a recycler. I agreed to try it an made arrangements to meet him on the day of the official move. The Irish and I drowned our various moving pains together in a bottle of wine which made sleeping on the couch easier.

On the day of the move, when I awoke to the twin snoring engines; however, sleep had been fretful and all I could think of was the amount of stuff I had and did not want. I wondered about the wisdom of an international move. I thought about throwing it all away. I sucked it up, got dressed in warm clothes and took off for my old apartment at eight in the morning. The movers were coming at nine am and I had been charged with one task and one task only; make sure there is a place to park. With that in mind I stood on the cold street on a -7C day, and waited.

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