Vent moment: Packing is one of my least favorite activities. Cleaning out dusty closets is another, which goes along with packing.

A typical move means sorting through all your belongings, deciding which items to keep and which items to discard, then putting the keepers in boxes labeled by room in order to maintain some sense of order once you arrive at your new place and have to unpack, unwrap, wash, sort, stack, and hang.

We’ve never had a typical move. Our first move was when we got married. We loaded literally all of our belongings, save a couple suitcases of clothes, into the back of my father-in-law’s pick-up truck, threw a tarp over the heap, and hauled ourselves down the PA turnpike to New Jersey. I had to hold a few things on my lap in the backseat, but it all fit, even the tiny armchair from our good friends M&G, which was our sole piece of furniture for weeks. The sparse furnishings made our one-bedroom apartment seem spacious.

Three years later NS finished his active duty U.S. Air Force commitment, and we were ready to move again. The military was responsible for that move, and they contracted with professional movers who pulled up to our small apartment with a full 18-wheeler, ready to rock. The three men took one look around, glanced at each other, and said, “This is going to be an early day.”  They were right; between their professional experience and our still-few belongings, they packed up everything in our one-bedroom in a matter of hours and had us completely moved into our newer, larger, two-bedroom by mid-afternoon. They made moving look easy! Not to mention they ensured nothing was broken before they left our new place. I will always believe that professional movers are worth every penny.

When we decided to move to Cayman, we had neither the advantage of few belongings nor free professional movers. At this point, we were seven years into marriage and had maxed out the storage space in our 1250-square foot apartment. Things like our beach chairs and golf clubs were permanently stored in our trunks due to lack of extra space. So I knew this move would be different.

These are NOT professionals. But the price was right. Thanks NS, DP, and MM!
It was. I think we started packing, albeit slowly and deliberately, the first weekend in August, and we didn't pick up the final scrap until August 29th. In a normal move, the packing categories are keep, toss, or donate. (I think; again, I've never experienced normal.)  In this move, the options were ship, store, pack (in a suitcase), lend, toss, or donate. Then there were sub-categories: Among “store”, we had three locations - parents, brother’s girlfriend, and friends. We also didn’t want any of our checked luggage pieces to weigh over 50 pounds, but we had to balance that limitation with trying to keep our “ship” boxes to a minimum. The various boxes and bags started to get unwieldy towards the end, especially when we began loading the larger items in the U-Haul truck only to come back inside to see unending boxes and bags strewn everywhere. I told NS it’s like an audit; it seems like nothing is done in the least until the last day when, all of a sudden, everything is done. The finale is satisfying, but the process feels snail-paced and discouraging.

One of our boxes looks a lot like DP!

However, in the end, everything found a home in either a box, bag, or dumpster. This included 15 shipped boxes covering 60 cubic feet of household goods. We used Thompson Shipping, who allowed up to 39 cubic feet to be shipped for a flat rate of $230 (not including port fees). Anything over 39 cubic feet made the entire shipment $7.70 per cubic foot.

Before packing, we wanted to get a good grasp on what a cubic foot would look like when translated to household items. One evening we were discussing this while in our guest bedroom/home office. Trying to conceptualize what 39 cubic feet would look like, we measured our printer, mentally converted to cubic feet, and decided we could ship approximately 17 of them. It seemed like plenty of room. At the time.

Deciding which household goods you may want for the next two years is no small task. First of all, we have the expectation of a fully furnished apartment. While it’s obvious that this will include couches, beds, tables, and dishes, it’s not entirely clear if it will include things like a can opener, a blender, measuring cups, or chip clips. You are faced with the dilemma of paying the shipping costs to hold onto things that are provided or risking that the house won’t include serving spoons and you’ll end up buying new. NS believes that being a minimalist is the answer to most of life’s dilemmas. I fully support that concept.... when camping.  I’m happy with the simple lifestyle for about 36 hours – not a second longer. So it was difficult for me to part ways with the majority of my kitchen and other household comforts. Two items we both knew had to come along: My Kitchenaid food processor and Kitchenaid blender – Christmas gifts, compliments of NS’ mom, which are used too frequently to be sacrificed on the altar of minimalism. Items that were in limbo until the last moment and ended up making the cut: My sheets and towels (I can’t feel like I’m in a hotel for two years!), the humidifier (for the heaven-forbidden infrequent head cold, not that the island won't have plenty of moisture already), and the tent (camping on the beach? I can get on board with that). Not packed (but already missed): stainless steel cookware, most books, beach chairs, and the rug we bought in Turkey. Oh. And our 52-inch TV. My family (more specifically, my brother), benefited from that rejection.

More on whether or not we chose wisely when we get to the island.


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