Another Lesson in Revaluating What Matters

Deciding what furniture to bring to Florida was a real challenge and I realized that many of the things that fit into my Connecticut home weren’t going to fit into my Florida home.  I halfheartedly placed items for sale, but really had no bites.  I wasn’t too concerned about things not selling because, truth be told, I was so darn conflicted about parting with them anyway.  “What the heck?…..I’ll just take the stuff with me!” became my mantra.

But the day before my moving company was scheduled to arrive, anxiety had taken over and I was pacing around wondering about the space I would have for furniture in my new home.  Suddenly, a memory flash came to me….I had the dimensions of my new home!  Now where the heck did I put that paperwork??  After ripping through files long ignored, I found the schematic for my Florida house.  With that and my measuring tape in hand, I began evaluating every piece of furniture I had – and that is when I found myself tearfully blubbering “it won’t fit…it won’t fit…..it won’t fit…..”.  As all of you who are Baby Boomers know, we hold onto things that meant something to our parents.  China dishes.  Oriental rugs.  Dining room sets.  And yes, in my case, Mom’s dining room hutch, her side tables and her curio cabinets along with a couple of other things I was holding onto.

My Mom was an incredible woman.  She came to this country as a war bride after WWII and things were tough financially for my parents for a long time.  But she persisted and endured without complaining.  One of the things I did hear her mention often though was how she would love to have a dining room and a formal dining set.  Finally, in 1985, my parents bought their own house and in it, my Mom placed her brand-new French Provincial dining set.  She was so thrilled and I loved seeing how happy it made her.  Since her passing, I have had that dining set and I treasure it – more than anything because of the joy it had brought Mom, not because I am the Martha Stewart of the neighborhood.  But now here it was, 2016, and I found myself sadly looking at her beautiful hutch because I knew that it …..just …..wouldn’t .…fit.  “I’ll repurpose it!” I thought to myself.  “I’ll cut the top off and put it into my new kitchen as a cabinet!” (obviously, I have OD’d on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip).  The “how” of that idea didn’t really come into the picture – it just sounded like a great solution (or more appropriately – a great pacifier for my emotions).  But then I did more measuring and realized that it still wouldn’t fit.  “Well, I will figure out something and just keep it in the garage until I do”.  The fact that I couldn’t even budge it, never mind move it once it was placed in the Florida garage was only a minor detail.  And then reality hit.  It just wasn’t going to fit and it was silly to pay movers to bring it all the way down to Florida to become an immovable garage fixture with “stuff” in it.  Plus, if truth be told, I loved it more than anything simply because Mom loved it and every time I looked at it, I saw Mom’s smiling face.

As the Baby Boomers downsize, we are finding that the Millennials aren’t moved by the history of our items.  They don’t even like some of our things. Your grandmother’s exquisite living room set is now being replaced by an assemble-at-home something or the other from IKEA.   The younger generation places more value on experiences and quality of life rather than quality of furniture.  I suppose they just might have a point.  But this has created a glut of once-beloved, beautiful furniture on the market and we Boomers are struggling with the reality that our treasures just aren’t worth that much.  It isn’t that I wanted so much money for my Mom’s hutch – I just felt so…..well……disloyal to consider low prices.  My parents had worked hard and struggled for years and they finally had a few special things.  But I found myself with no one to sell the hutch to for a decent price.  It just hurt.  I sat staring at it for a long time and finally came to a few conclusions.  First, Mom doesn’t care about that hutch anymore.  She is in a place now where peace, happiness and contentment surround her without things.  And second, more than anything, Mom’s wish for me was to be happy.  She isn’t looking down at me from Heaven with a scowl on her face because I’m leaving her hutch behind.  She is looking forward to me finding new joys in Florida.  I know that is what is most important to my Mom and to my Dad too.

I hardly watched the guy who took away Mom’s hutch.  Basically, I pointed him to it and turned my back.  He had paid me a pittance that I won’t even mention here.  But I console myself with the thought of some new person spotting it in the guy’s store.  Slowly a widening smile grows across his or her face with the realization that they can afford that lovely piece of furniture.  Someone who is just as thrilled as my Mom was to have it in 1985.  Someone I could not find on Craig’s List or Facebook yard sales, but someone who was out there nonetheless.  Best wishes to you new owner!  Use it in good health!  My Mom and I are thrilled that it makes you happy!

Who is Gonna Move Me?

One of the most important considerations which every person moving out of state must make is “Who is going to handle my precious belongings and get them to my new home safely?”  Back in the day, I’d get a bunch of my friends together, rent a U-Haul, buy beer and pizza and all was good.  Now that all my friends and I have become settled into the Ibuprofen-powered set, that isn’t an option.  As I always do with anything major like this, I research it endlessly until I have made myself crazy.  First, I thought of everyone I knew who had moved and asked them who they had used.  Surprisingly, many of them had forgotten.  That was probably a good thing since we tend to remember the people and companies who send us into seething rages.  The only problem, of course, is that I didn’t have company names.  So then I went to that source of all irrefutable information – the internet.  Oh….My…..God.  I would read a review of one company and be relatively assured that all would be well with my world.  Then I would make the mistake of scrolling down the page where dire warnings of gloom and despair would besiege my brain.  “These guys were HORRIBLE!!!  My Mom was standing quietly for too long I guess and they mistook her for a statue, wrapped her up, stuffed her into a box, and shipped her off to St. Louis!  They said that they recalled hearing “some sort of squeaking”, but chalked it up to road noise.  The worst part was that we were moving to New Orleans!  It was months before we saw her again and no one at the office would answer our calls!!!”  YIKES!!…..

On top of everything else, my tenants in Florida waved a lease at me that didn’t expire until December.  It was a little difference of opinion, but I had to concede that they were right.  Which, of course, fit right in with the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision delayer (if you recall my list from a few posts back).  I was able to sell my house and still have time to get used to the idea of leaving Connecticut.  I would be able to spend the holidays with my friends and help Karen finish up the bait shop season.  And I could take a little more time looking for a mover – and now a storage facility.

I started first by calling some of those movers that give you a quote over the phone.  As I walked around my house describing what I owned over the phone to a complete stranger sitting who-knows-where, my brain was screaming “Are you NUTS???  This guy has NO idea if the table you just mentioned is big enough for 6 or for a Heads of State function at the White House!!  And he’s giving you a binding quote?”  I pictured myself in Florida, standing in front of my house screaming at a driver handing me a $10,000 invoice in addition to what I had paid upfront.  The internet had some of those stories too.  By the time a few hours had passed, I was in full-fledged panic and the nerves from my spinal cord injury were on fire.

I researched “how to pick a mover” and tried to find an article that was not sponsored by any particular moving company – no easy task.  I finally did get some useful information though.  I learned that I must be sure that my mover has a US DOT number, which is a unique license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation.  AND my source gave me a database from which to investigate this information!  AHA!  NOW we’re cooking!  With open spreadsheet on my laptop, I diligently compared license numbers, insurance information, years in business, etc., etc., etc.  And when I finished, I had myself a spreadsheet full of DOT numbers, insurance info, years in business and ……..not a whole lot else.  PLEASE!!!  I need someone to tell me who to pick!!  Obviously, the panic was not subsiding any.

After agonizing over this for several days, I employed my “Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow” decision delayer mode until I could handle going back to deal with it.  Hopefully, my brain would unscramble a bit as well.  Finally I got up the nerve to think about it again and called two companies who would provide in-home interviews.

We did the tour of my house and chatted a bit.  A few days later, the estimates came in.  I even visited one to see their storage facilities and got a good feel for the office staff.  I then analyzed my silly spreadsheet (made me feel like it hadn’t been a total waste), reviewed the estimates and then made my scientific and well-researched choice – which was to pick the one closest to me who also seemed most capable of dealing with my anxieties.  Alright, alright…not the most scientific but at least I had made a decision!  A few weeks after they had come they had moved my precious belongings out of my house, I was talking with a friend of mine.  She said that the company I used had been her mover and she had just loved them.  Now why didn’t I think to call her sooner?  It would have saved me a lot of Googling, spreadsheets – and angst!  Ah well – better late than never I suppose!