A Moving (and Mowing) Experience

The Move

The day finally came when we moved our daughter’s belongings to her apartment in West Hartford, about a mile away from the law school she’ll be attending. We didn’t know the apartment number or the access code to the building until a couple of days before we left so the prelude to the move has been a bit more stressful than expected. We also learned that her apartment is on the 3rd floor of a building without an elevator. What fun.

My wife and daughter loaded the 10-foot rental truck and the back of my wife’s Subaru Outback on Friday afternoon. I was spared this part of the work because my wife is the jenga ninja when it comes to packing stuff into cars and trucks. The truck was only about 1/2 to 1/3rd full, but everything was covered in furniture pads and jammed together so as to be stable in transit.

Just before 7 am on Saturday, I took off in the truck bound for Connecticut. My wife and daughter followed in the Outback about an hour later.

I was anxious about the drive, not having driven a truck of any sort since I moved to the DC area decades ago. No worries. Everything went smoothly for 40 miles when the tire pressure warning light came on. No bueno. I pulled into a truck stop and visually inspected the tires. They looked normal. I topped off the gas tank and hit the road. The idiot light came on and went off, probably a bad sensor. I checked again in Delaware then forgot about it.

I had to drive I-95 most of the way to Hartford because the rental contract penalized rather severely for extra mileage. Also, many of the alternative routes were for passenger cars only.

I was cooking with gas until I made it through the toll booths at the GW Bridge into New York City. That’s when I encountered a 60-mile traffic jam. Deep breaths. After two hours of stopping and going, I lucked out. The last 60 miles all the way to Hartford were uneventful. The Google, however, guided me to the address of my daughter’s apartment in Hartford. Luckily the actual destination in West Hartford was only a couple of miles distant.

After a little over 7 hours I arrived. Having had nothing but snacks to eat since leaving home, but wanting to avoid driving the truck, I skipped lunch and started to unload. Having parked about 100 feet from the door, I was pretty pleased to have packed a hand truck from home. This allowed me to shuttle batches of small items to the base of the stairs. I then carried the items up the 5 half-flights to her apartment. Over and over and over. Bicycle legs and lungs for the win.

I had made the last-second decision not to wear hiking boots for the move. Instead I pulled some old Hoka running shoes that my doctor had recommended to mitigate stenosis pain. With their absurdly thick midsole, they feel like pillows. They worked amazingly well. I didn’t have the slightest bit of back trouble during the move.

The building is old but her one-bedroom apartment has an updated kitchenette and bathroom. And the place is huge. After making 20 or so trips up and down the stairs I barely put a dent in filling the place.

The dining and living room during the move.

I was pretty gassed by the time my wife and daughter showed up and we began the process of moving the heavy stuff. We had one full-sized mattress, the pieces to a platform bed (it disassembles), two book cases, a table, a heavy box or two, and five boxes for a yet-to-be assembled Ikea dresser. We made relatively fast work of things and in a couple of hours finished getting it all upstairs. At this point we were all exhausted.

My level of exhaustion was close to that from my ride across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California in 2019. My body had nothing left. I was doubled over in fatigue.

We took the truck to our assigned drop off facility, 11 miles away in Manchester. It was closed. My daughter tried to follow the website instructions to do an after-hours drop off but was stymied by the software. I tried on my phone and scored a generational triumph as I managed to get the software to work. After 20 minutes of cussing, answering questions, and taking photos that would have made Officer OB proud, we bid the monster farewell and left for our hotel, sore and utterly knackered

After showering we drove to a pizza place in downtown Hartford and had a wonderfully greasy pepperoni pie. We would have eaten anything to be honest but it was staggeringly good.

Desert was cheesecake and Advil.

On Sunday we drove to the Quaker Diner in West Hartford and hoovered us a fine breakfast. Then we made a Target run and went back to the apartment for more fun with assembling the dresser and setting things up. The dresser turned out to be your basic Ikea disaster. Two pieces were damaged in the process so they would make the trip back to home for replacement.

The bed assembly went without a hitch. The Ikea dresser not so much.
We may get Covid from eating here but it was a diner food emergency.

After a few hours we needed more shelving paper so I returned to Target and searched for lunch. Whole Foods was a fail. The bagel shop next door was a fail. Finally, I settled for a Subway a mile from the apartment. It was staffed by two young men who were either stoned or had the IQs of zoo animals. They messed up the order twice. I played supervisor and they finally got it together.

After eating we finished setting things up and with the two broken dresser panels in hand we left the apartment at 6 pm. An apartment this big needs a sofa so it was off to some furniture stores. At the second store we found a sectional sofa that would make it through the narrow doors of the building. It will be delivered thank god.

At 7 pm. we hit the road for home. In the rain. Near Southport our journey slowed to a crawl again. This time for about 45 miles. At least we were in the Outback on the truck-free Merritt Parkway. Once into Westchester County the traffic abated. Still, the old parkways of this area of New York can be nerve wracking, especially in the dark and in the rain. We lucked out and drove across the Bronx and onto and across the GW Bridge without the slightest back up. The rest of the drive home involved minimal traffic delays even in the mixing bowl in Delaware. We made it home before 1 am. Suffice it to say, traffic from Newark to DC moved well above the posted speed.

I was a zombie from driving. Despite taking two Advil PMs I couldn’t fall asleep. I finally conked out around 3:30. After five hours I woke up. Groggy and sore everywhere. It may just be that moving is a young man’s game.

I ate breakfast then, naturally, went for a bike ride. I was so out of it that I actually became disoriented riding on familiar neighborhood streets. Three separate times I literally had no idea where I was. Somehow I managed to ride 30 miles without colliding with a tree. It’s a wonder that I found my way back home, I showered and slept for three hours. Dead to the world.

The Mow

You don’t really feel the pain of an extraordinary physical effort until the second day afterwards. Tuesday morning came and everything hurt. Now I could have taken a nap but I am after all a few spokes shy of a wheel. I decided that it would be a great idea to do some yard work in stifling heat and humidity. Perhaps the move damaged my brain.

I began by building up a sweat by trimming some bushes in the yard. Then I mowed my crabgrass and zoysia lawn that had grown incredibly dense in less than two weeks. The lawn was so thick that the mower bogged down several times. I was not having fun.

After trimming and blowing, I spread weed and feed on the lawn. This will confuse the lawn because it’s mostly weeds. (Do we grow or die? What does this jerk want? Let’s give him more crabgrass.) By the time I was done, my clothes and skin were covered in sweat and weed and feed. They don’t show you this on the TV ads for do it yourself lawn care.

After a quick shower and lunch I realized that my body needed more abuse so I went back outside for a bike ride. I was no longer groggy but my legs felt like lead, Normally I loosen up within a couple of miles of riding but on this day it took me 15 miles before my legs had any pop to them at all. With the heat index well over 100 degrees F, I rode another 15 miles. Along the way I downed four large bottles of water. My tummy was sloshing the whole way.

Years ago we visited some friends at their townhouse in Maryland. They had a new deck. I asked if they built it themselves. One of them replied, “Oh no. That’s why God invented money.”

Someday I’ll get religion.

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