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Packing Joys: Round Two

Packing Joys: Round Two

Crazy week – though not much of an interesting one, unfortunately. Six out of seven nights with minimal sleep was a bit of a record.

I’m very tempted to declare that I am never, ever moving house again (let alone moving overseas) because that’s more realistic than never shopping again, and I can’t imagine the pain of repeating this packing exercise with more stuff. How do you all do it?

Monday was our last day in Hong Kong, so after having some fabulous final meals with family and doing some last-minute shopping, we spent half the night packing then woke up relatively early for our morning flight.

Tuesday night was spent flying cattle on a budget airline, so the sleep quality was never going to be brilliant.

Wednesday saw us arriving at the Gold Coast airport not very long after sunrise. We made our bleary-eyed way back to BrisVegas and had a sane, early night after some packing. I was actually quite proud of us. Then again, we both sort of passed out so it probably wasn’t much of a conscious choice.

Thursday and Friday were absolute mayhem. We started with early morning carpet and mattress cleaning (with all the furniture tetris required), then packing, packing and more packing. For the first time in our lives, we found ourselves packing up an apartment we called “home” – and a year of being homeowners apparently yielded a great many material possessions, far more than we’d ever accumulated in our other years living abroad. We’d spent some time packing before Hong Kong, but the tail seemed endless.

Before long, I realised it wasn’t even a case of the 80/20 rule with the last twenty percent being particularly tricky. The space-time continuum was clearly warping on us as we packed, because we filled box after box of but it never seemed to make a dent in the mountain of stuff that remained. It was the gift that just kept giving, in defiance of physics and my declining sanity.

Imagine this: you pack half a dozen or so boxes, each a respectable size and neatly filled to the brim. As you throw in silica gel packets and seal them off with tape, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You’re getting things done! Making progress! Then you walk back into the room and look at the shelves, and lo and behold – they look every bit as full as they’d always been. It’s like taking the confusion from déjà vu and adding a heavy duty dose of despair.

After a while, I realised our leftover alcohol wasn’t going to drink itself and decided to help it along – which made things more bearable and left me able to see the funny side of things when we lost power and had to continue packing in the dark. We finally had the place clear by around 3am on Saturday morning, and I swear my pedometer would have clocked kilometres of walking bad and forth across our not-particularly-huge apartment. My feet and back were dead.

Saturday morning involved some errands around the neighbourhood in the morning, followed by cleaning. And more cleaning. Between the two of us, working almost non-stop with only a brief break for a MacDonald’s lunch, it still took almost ten hours – which, frankly, struck me as a little ridiculous because we got an two-bedroom apartment instead of a house in order to avoid having too many spaces to clean.

Keep in mind that we’d done a fair amount of pre-cleaning before Hong Kong because we had scheduled inspections with prospective renters, so it wasn’t as though we were cleaning from scratch. Our place is also generally quite tidy (credit goes to Bruno). Even so, the sheer number of surfaces was somehow unexpected – I dragged the tray of cleaning supplies from room to room, applying copious amounts of everything from Windex to Domestos, from bleach to isopropyl alcohol. Soap suds, oven grease, grout lines… the list of things to clean was endless.

We finished before 10pm that night, returned to my parents’ place, then spent a few hours hanging out with my brother given that we weren’t going to see him again for most of a year. He quite willingly agreed to help us finish some of our alcohol, so we relaxed for a while over card and board games.

Sunday involved sorting through the, oh, twenty or so boxes we’d moved from our apartment to my parents’ place. There were electronics, valuables and delicate odds and ends we needed to stow; there were perishables and other similar things we wanted to “donate” to my family; and there were all our supplies for our upcoming almost-year of travel. That part wasn’t too bad because we’d done some classifying earlier on – but we still had to do some work to get everything appropriately organised, labelled and / or packaged.

We also had various housekeeping things to finish, from disk backups to paperwork filing to laundry, so all in all, we didn’t wrap up until just before three in the morning – and of course, we’d booked an early flight requiring us to be awake by four-something. Our sleep-deprived humour at the crack of dawn would probably have disturbed anyone who heard us.

It was done, though, and it took a team effort over a couple of days when Bruno – being the indestructible half of the relationship, the one that doesn’t usually get sick and hadn’t been sick in years – had just come down with a Murphy-induced cold. Still, he worked through it valiantly and it was indescribably sanity-saving to have someone there to share the, uh, character-building experience with me.

As I told him afterwards, those days and nights of packing and cleaning did what my other “milestone” events never did – they made me feel like a responsible adult, more so than my career, more so than buying an apartment, more so than getting married. My inner kid all but disappeared this past week, giving way to Adult Angel who’d filled an apartment as a homeowner planning for the future, and who could therefore never again just jet off overseas for a year with minimal preparation as she used to. It’s not that I wouldn’t jet off again, but I’d do so with a much greater appreciation of the effort involved and the motivation required.

Still, we’re finally done! The flights to Santiago were quite uneventful, and I’m typing this in bed on my third continent within the space of a week, with the Andes visible out the window. If anything, given all the effort it took to prepare for this trip, I’m now even more determined to make the most out of it. My inner kid is ready to come back out and have some good ol’ fashioned fun…

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