Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nothing left but the view ...

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity and emotions. So much so that it is only now, sitting in Starbucks, after my last hair appointment, sipping on a cup of coffee and nibbling on a slice of lemon pound cake that I can appreciate the magnitude of it all.

September 4th our movers arrived (just late enough to have me thinking the worst and making calls to verify whether they were in fact arriving) and I started to relax at least momentarily. We had decided to hire the same movers that moved us in, to move us out. But, we both knew that young men in the moving industry come and go, and the odds of having the same three guys wasn't very likely.

Two out of three ain't bad! Amazingly, two of the three guys were the same and not only did they remember us, they remembered our stuff, where the storage unit was in the building and all sorts of details about our plans. They were as amazing this time as last, and until we arrived at Maple Leaf Storage and I had a look at the space that all of our stuff was going to have to fit in, I was actually feeling quite euphoric!

It looked impossible to me, but I tried to contain my fears and decided to stay away from the storage unit on the sixth floor, opting instead to pace the main floor of the facility for the few hours it took to unload the truck, shlep the boxes and furniture into the elevator, up six floors and complete the puzzle that was our life in a 10' x 15" space.

We kept getting positive reports from the young chap doing most of the heavy work. "looking good!" he kept trying to reassure me. "No problem, lots of room!"

Well, the last half hour was pretty hairy. "lots of room" turned into "no room" and my bike had to be taken apart, and the last pieces of the puzzle were just not fitting into place. In the end a bit of muscle to push and pull to get the rolling storage locker door to clear an second bicycle pedal, did the job.

September 5th was a day to clean the apartment, go through our luggage one last time to be sure we had everything we needed for the car trip, and the additional items we needed for Israel, Nepal and India. We have done and redone the packing at least four times. Each time we sit down to check our lists, we have forgotten completely what is in which bag and often times which bag is for which trip. The bottom line is we decided to unpack completely and start again. There is a lot of talking out loud to ourselves and then asking each other for advice on this piece of clothing or that.

Everything between us and homelessness is on the floor of one room of the apartment. For some reason these last decisions seem impossible to make. The stress in the room can be cut with a knife. 

By late in the afternoon we had everything packed in the appropriate bags, and everything left over was designated for storage. YES, I did say storage. We packed the rental car to the rafters and drove over to Maple Leaf Storage to see if we could open the door without everything falling on our heads and find a place for a duffel bag of clothes and a large array of misc odds and sods that somehow were not properly packed by September 4th. It took us an hour but we managed to find a place under or over or between our teetering tower of belonging. Wearily we retraced our steps back to our empty apartment.

Cousin Sheila pampers us again with a wonderful meal on her beautiful balcony with the sun setting over a perfect Vancouver evening. Stress subsides as we crawl into bed for our last sleep in this building.

One day to go. September 6th was our final day at 1425 West 6th Ave. Carpet cleaners arrived at 7:45 am, and did a great job. Marc and I had taken our packed bags down to the car and the apartment was almost completely empty. I had some last cleaning chores to do, but everything seemed to be falling into place. That is — until I realized I had locked the door of the apartment — with the keys inside!

This has been a fear of mine for the entire year we have lived here. But for the rest of the entire year we lived here, Marc would have been able to rescue me with his keys. But not on September 6th. I had taken his keys that morning and added them to my key chain in order to hand them all in to the rental agent scheduled to arrive an hour after I discovered I was locked out.

I have to tell you, I am proud of myself for keeping it together. Considering my mental state, the potential for a full blown meltdown was a real possibility. Instead, I called Marc at work and asked him to call the rental agent and make sure she had a key to the apartment with her. He managed to get the message to her in time and aside from me needing to clear away the last cleaning supplies from the apartment foyer and a jar of pickles I had forgotten in the fridge, the hand off of keys and the signing of the end of our rental agreement was a complete success.

It is only noon at this point, but to me it feels like midnight. I take a last look at the apartment as I walk out.

I am taken by the fact that all that is left of our life here is the view ...

I unplug the last phone and tuck it under my arm as I walk through the door and the rental agent locks up the apartment.

But day is only half over —and what awaits Marc and I over the next few hours deserves a post of it's own. So hold tight I have left the best for last!


  1. Not fair! Making us wait for you to reveal "the best". Great post, BTW. I felt I was right there beside you - packing and then repacking, gazing at your storage unit as the door squeaked past Marc's bicycle, and (oy) staring at your locked apartment door with the keys left inside. Homeless you may be, clearly still very resourceful. Remember this as you begin your journey (with all of us interlopers beside/behind you). Love you both.

  2. That's a brave and exciting thing to do - leaving a comfortable life behind and going on the road. You've become teenagers again! Safe travels - I'll be watching for photos and updates!

  3. You have brought back for me the tense anxiety of trying to remember all the details of a massive 'to-do' list while battling the emotionality of leaving the familiar, the comfortable, and the attachment to heartfelt possessions ('our teetering tower of belonging')...I was in tears by the end ('all that is left of our life here is the view').

    Now it's on to the good stuff; the adventures and experiences that will make this parting all worthwhile! Our best to you--