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  • Jan Flynn

Tip: Pack the Wine Last

5 simple steps to preparing for a move

Step 1: Sell your house

If your house is in California, particularly anywhere in or near the San Francisco Bay Area, this is likely to happen with blinding speed. It’s nice to be on the shiny side of the region’s apparently pop-immune real estate bubble. Still, it’s a little disorienting when your house hits the market on a Monday and is in contract on Wednesday.

Don’t complain. Nobody wants to hear it.

Step 2: Notice you have a lot of stuff

You downsized when you moved to this place, vowing to live forevermore in Zen-like simplicity. You have broken your vow. Take a moment to regard the hundreds, nay, thousands of objects you still possess, all of which will have to be boxed up and translated to a different space.

Observe your anticipatory weariness. Now let it go. That collection of flower vases isn’t going to move itself.

Step 3: Assemble packing supplies

Take advantage of one of the helpful estimators offered by moving companies and big-box (excuse the pun) stores that help you figure the amounts and sizes of boxes you’ll need, along with bubble wrap, packing paper, tape, stickers, markers, etc. Become entranced by Home Depot’s animated video, in which objects float from their locations, are magically surrounded by the correct wrapping material, and descend into perfectly sized boxes which seal themselves.

Go to Home Depot, which is a half-hour drive from where you live. Find the location of the packing supplies, which, no matter where you are when you give up and ask someone in an orange apron, will be in the farthest corner of the store. Discover that they are out of packing boxes in the sizes you need. The same is true of almost everything else you went there to buy.

Leave with four sets of glassware-packing box inserts, guaranteed to fit the medium-sized, heavy-duty boxes that you will have to order online. Drive home.

Order everything online. Allow several more hours for this process. Become entranced by unintentionally hilarious reviews of packing supplies. Learn that it may take up to two weeks to receive what you’ve ordered. Open a bottle of wine.

Step 4: Begin packing

The boxes you’ve ordered arrive. The box they come in is badly damaged. Decide to overlook this troubling metadata. Gather all the other supplies that have arrived and are now taking up half of your dining room.

Begin by packing the contents of the china cabinet, including the English bone china and sterling silver you haven’t used since you moved to this house and in which your adult children remain uninterested in pre-inheriting despite your repeated offers. Start with the crystal stemware first.

Assemble your first heavy-duty, medium-sized box. Unwrap one of the glassware packing inserts guaranteed to fit said box. Assemble the inserts by sliding the cardboard separators into the slots provided. Attempt to place the newly created dividers into the box. Discover that the inserts are too long to fit.

Disassemble the dividers. Find a sturdy pair of scissors. Spend another half-hour trimming one-half inch off each of the cardboard inserts. Observe the blister forming between your thumb and forefinger. Re-assemble the dividers. Shove into the box, using colorful language to narrate your efforts.

Carefully wrap the set of ten champagne flutes you received as a wedding gift. As you do, contemplate an alternate reality in which you would actually use all ten flutes at one time. Discover that the flutes are too tall to fit the dividers. Take two ibuprofen.

Start again with shorter goblets. Succeed in filling one layer, using massive amounts of packing paper. Solemnly promise to recycle all of it when you unpack. Begin packing the second layer. Discover that the piece of cardboard meant to act as a divider between layers is too long. Trim. Take a deep breath and explain to husband why you’re swearing like that.

Succeed in packing all the glassware, even the flutes. Seal box. Observe that you still have all the china, the serving pieces, and the silverware to go. Notice that it has taken you three hours to get this far. Observe the creaking in your knees as you attempt to stand.

Open a bottle of wine.

Step 5: Repeat endlessly

This is your life now. Accept it. In your fitful slumber, dream of packing yourself into a giant box which then shrinks so you don’t fit.

Imagine the boxes all filled. Imagine the movers taking them all away. Imagine the house empty. Imagine the relief.

Regard your broken fingernails, your desiccated cuticles. Observe as your mind recoils at the thought of unpacking everything at the other end of this transition.

Open a bottle of wine.

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