Adventures in Packing, Part Two

Photo of black cat sitting on top of a large box on which is printed "I was handled with care."We successfully transferred houses, so obviously that means that we successfully packed all our shit. Even though it is in my past and was successful, I still feel as if I have some things I have to work through in regards to it.

I mean, really. Packing an entire house worth of stuff is like a whole THING. When you touch every object in your house, you learn some stuff.

Like even just the shelf in my kitchen that held bottles of vinegar. I had three bottles of balsamic vinegar that expired in 2009. THREE. When you pour out those bottles, your kitchen will smell strongly. In addition to the balsamic vinegar, there was sherry cooking wine that expired in 2007. There was rice vinegar that expired in 2008. There was malt vinegar that was older than one of my kids. Also, it’s weird, because I don’t know what you do with malt vinegar.


I learned a lot about labeling boxes during this move as well. Unfortunately, I plan on never moving again, so this knowledge will be wasted. If you ever move, let me know and I will come by with a handful of markers and some brilliant ideas. These ideas include:

1. The crucial information to put on the outside of the box is the destination room of the new house. It doesn’t matter what room it came from in your old home. It barely matters what is inside the box—although it might be helpful to put that information in one spot on the box. For example, writing “purses” on every side of a carton doesn’t give the movers any information about that box. It also creates the impression that you have too many purses.

2. If you just mark the destination room instead of the contents on the box, there are certain items that you might want to make a note of on the outside of the box so you can have a chance in hell of finding them again. These things include your social security card if you are starting a new job, the end-of-year gift cards you so efficiently bought early for teacher gifts, and your antidepressants.

3. As the day of your move gets closer, you will give way fewer fucks about box organization and labeling. This is a mistake. Although frankly, unless you wrote “DELIVER TO KANSAS” on the box, it will probably make it to your new home and you’ll find it again. You know, eventually.

4. The things that you waited to pack until the morning of the move should probably go in a box labeled “OPEN ME FIRST!”

Some of the things I learned from packing were less upsetting than the above. For example, when I reached the top shelf of my corner kitchen cabinet, I realized that the taco chihuahua is still one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Photo of ceramic chihuahua. There are three taco-sized spaces in his back for holding tacos.

See? Super fabulous. He holds tacos while you put your fixins in it.

The taco chihuahua definitely made the trip to the new house. There were, however, things that didn’t make the cut. Like this Valentine’s Day cookie I found in my cabinet.

Photo of a shortbread cookie with red filling in the shape of a heart.

I didn’t taste it, but I’m pretty sure it would have killed me if I had. Do you know how long ago Valentine’s Day was?

In addition to my vinegar shelf, I also went through my spice racks. I went through a phase a few years ago where I cooked adventurous recipes that asked for lots of spices. Consequently, I have (had) a large number of herb and spice bottles with, say, a tablespoon gone from the top.

Nearly all of it was expired.

Also, remember how all that balsamic vinegar was smelly? Ten years of spices in your trash can is also a powerful smell. And it makes you sneeze. It will, however, attract cats.

Photo of empty spice jars on a counter. The top of the garbage can into which I have emptied the spices is also visible, with a at sniffing at it.

She didn’t get a lot closer than this.

It turns out that empty glass spice jars are a hot commodity on Freecycle. Especially if you have 26 of them. I had five people begging for them within ten minutes of posting.

Let’s see, what else did I learn? Oh, yeah, I learned that you’re going to need more packing tape than you have. Seriously. You didn’t buy enough.

Sadly, you might also learn that some possessions are fleeting.

Photo of a ceramic light switch wall plate decorated with Peter Rabbit. It is broken into five pieces.


We bought that before Sam was born. His first room was decorated with Peter Rabbit stuff. This was on the wall in one of my kids’ rooms from that time until I unscrewed it and promptly dropped it on the floor last week.

In another blast from the past, we rehung a closet door that we had taken off of Sam’s closet several years ago. I asked Alex if he was sure we had the right door as there were three of in them in the basement. He turned it around to face me and said, “Yes, I’m sure.”

Photo of a wooden door with many small cards taped to it. The cards all feature either Thomas the Tank Engine or Bob the Builder machines.

Ah, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. Those two were a big hit in my house for a long time.

I’m a little bit of a control freak, so I didn’t let Alex pack very much. (He also doesn’t get to unpack very much.) The exception to this is his closet. I required him to pack that himself. Unfortunately, this very competent and successful attorney turned out to be UTTERLY INCAPABLE of doing things like taping a box shut and walking across the room to pick up a flat box and turn it in to a cube.

In related news, when someone proves themselves incompetent and unwilling to learn the simplest of tasks, unsolicited advice from him will riiiilly, riiiilly made a person mad.

I had a moment when I was packing my basement when I stopped to think about all the afternoons I spent down there with Susan and her kids. I felt sad to leave the only house I’d known her in. Then, a couple weeks after that day, I found, covered in spider webs, a little vase she had given me with a flower bulb in it. I, of course, had killed the flower immediately, but I kept the vase. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but it is going to hold something special in my new house.

Photo of a small green vase, still covered in the spider webs I found it in.

I’m bringing her love to my new home.

There were probably more lessons that I learned from packing, but I guess the most important is that what really matters is that you take the love and laughter and joy of your family and your friends and bring it with you from your old house to your new house. Because without all of that, you just have walls and a door.

With it, you have a home.

Also, I never found my brown clogs. How did I pack my entire house and not find the pair of shoes I’ve been looking for for weeks? WHERE ARE MY BROWN CLOGS?

23 thoughts on “Adventures in Packing, Part Two

  1. I randomnly thought of Susan today too. I mean, I think about her all the time, but how she came in my head was random.

    I wish you so much love in your new home.

  2. You will find your brown clogs as soon as you buy another pair. Also, I love your taco chihuahua. How have I never seen this? So glad that your move is over. Good luck in your new house!!!

    • I’m sure you’re exactly right about the clogs. Also, maybe I’ll get everyone taco chihuahuas for Christmas this year.

  3. The ONLY vinegar I know what to do with is malt vinegar. Do you never eat fish & chips?
    Are you sure you weren’t cleaning out my spice cupboard? I recently found some curry powder that a friend had mixed for me when we shared a house together. She left for the US in 1985. I think it might be valuable by now.
    I think I might have your brown clogs here. Have you got my welly?

  4. I wish you had written this the weekend before you moved an unpacked, because then it would have coincided with the weekend I was moving and now unpacking. because everything you wrote would have helped me with what I am going through right now. I am not quite sure how boxes labeled “girls room” are in the garage. Oh wait, because my husband unpacked the POD. And the boxes labled “living room” are in the spare bedroom. Makes sense, right? TO A PSYCHO. Or a husband that doesn’t give a gerbils butt about where boxes go.
    And right now, I just want to find my toaster and my utensil holder. I am not sure how one loses those 2 things. There are no more boxes labeled “kitchen” but I distinctly remember packing the toaster because when I did I got crumbs all over everything else in the box.
    It’s probably labeled “girls room” and out in the garage.
    Congrats on the new house! Let me know if you now need anymore vinegar…seems I have some to spare…

  5. We’ve lived in our house for almost 30 years, having bought it as ignorant twenty-somethings who never had the time or the energy to move someplace else. (We’re an odd combination of busy and lazy.) There are still things in the basement and upstairs in the garage that belonged to the previous owners. I suppose by now they’re not likely to come back for them.

    • It’s funny because I’m sure I’ll have boxes to unpack for a loooong time, but anything that belonged to the previous people is already either completely sterilized or in the trash.

  6. I would like to reserve you and your marker for August when I will be moving from a spacious home to grad student housing with my two kids and their million pounds of stuff. I’m keeping the kids (for sentimental reasons, like the taco chihuahua) but I don’t know how I’m going to pare down everything else. On the bright side, anything I manage to lose will be something I don’t have to find space for when I unpack…

  7. Malt vinegar is really good on fish & chips, or either one by itself for that matter. It’s a British thing. Now everyone will know what house warming gifts to bring you, vinegar & spices. ;-)

  8. Welcome home. Anything that is still in boxes in 2 years’ time should be thrown out, without opening the boxes :-D
    I was thinking about Susan this morning too. I first met her at your old house… I’m glad you’ve got something from her for your new one.
    <3 See you soon!

    • Good luck with your move! And fortunately I was smart enough to remember where the sheets and toilet paper was. Also, the Clorox wipes. All very important.

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