I've moved* 7 times in the last 6 years. 6.5 of those 7 moves can be credited to the brawn and generosity of my friends (and sometimes friends of friends).
The law of averages has been kind to me thus far in my apartment hopping lifestyle. I've never had to pack a truck in the rain, although I have had to drive a 14 foot truck towing a 4-wheel car dolly through the mountains of VA in a heavy downpour with 2 cats and an anxious girlfriend in the cab (mountains of VA = transfer truck central). I've never gotten into an accident while driving a moving truck. I've never had a flat tire or run out of gas or ended up on the side of a highway with a smoking engine. There are so many nightmares that I could be whining about right now, but I've never had to live them.
While my lucky streak held up for that other little .5 move, I can safely say that it was the most nerve wracking experience of my entire portability history. You would think that something so insignificant as a .5 move wouldn't be so scarring, but my pulse still quickens when I hear the belch of a large truck pass by.
I know many of the few of you who read this blog have driven a rental truck before, but trust me when I say this: until you've driven down the streets of brooklyn in a 16 foot truck, you haven't lived the fear I speak of. I don't mean to say that my fear is of a superior caliber than your fear; I just mean that our fears are simply not the same. Others of you may be thinking, "delivery trucks do it every day! how hard can it be?! some old lady driving a school bus has more balls than you!" And you'd be right on all accounts.
The one good thing that I can say about the combined 15 hour/2 day drive (besides the opportunity to listen to 8 hours of Ira Glass), is that it prepared me for what was to come. (Much the same way training wheels prepare you for riding a roller coaster). I made it through the tollbooths and the bridges without incident. My confidence rose with every last minute lane change and every blare of the horn (and there were many of both thanks to unforecasted lane closures). But as soon as I turned on to 4th Ave in Brooklyn, I was ready to call the moving guys and pay one of them whatever it would take to get them in the driver's seat. I was even prepared to pander to their masculinity.
After 20 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic and an infuriating pit stop for gas (would you just keep driving if you saw a moving truck trying to swing wide into your lane to avoid a parked car), we made the turn onto Sackett Ave. The sight of brownstones lulled me into a false sense of homestretch-ness.
I knew that parking was going to be an issue, but I wasn't really aware of the solution until Norman, the superintendent of the building, said in his Italian singsong, "yeah, you know, when a truck comes, you know, he can't get by, so you just move the truck and park again." It could have been worse. I could have had to move the truck 9 times instead of 3. I could have side swiped any number of cars, some of which were double parked and occupied by parents waiting to pick up their kids from school, but nothing horrible happened. The shear possibility for disaster was enough to stress me out (not to mention the look on Charrow's face whenever I re-parked the truck by trying to get as close to side as possible to circumvent another trip around the block). By the time we were unloaded, the throaty sound of an approaching truck was enough to make my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth.
Our original plan was to pay the "friends" who helped us move (the uninsured "friends" that we must never tell anyone from the management company about), and drop off the truck together. But there were boxes on the curb to be taken up and a Fed-ex truck that had been slowly making its way up the street for 25 minutes was fast approaching. So I double checked that I had all the maps, including my NFT book (care of Liz), and set off with a chorus of honking in my wake.
I got lost. Luckily traffic was so bad that I had time to readdress the map and get back on track. And then I got lost again. I finally had to pull over and call the drop-off place because I couldn't navigate the one-way streets well enough to get the one block that I needed, and I was off the NFT map. I asked the guy who took the truck how much I'd need for the bus ride back to Park Slope. "2 dollars," he said as I flipped through the cash in my pocket, "but you need quarters." When I asked if there was anywhere nearby for me to get change, he looked at me as if I was wearing a big slice of tenderloin around my neck and I had just asked where I could find the nearest underground dog fighting ring. I happened to have 6 quarters in my pocket and he rummaged up another 2 from somewhere behind the dingy counter.
1 bus transfer and 25 minutes later, I walked into the smallest apartment I've ever rented to start an existence in the biggest city I may ever call home.
*moved = relocation of all belongings from one dwelling to another. change in zip code not required.