By Susan Roberts
Yesterday I ticked one of the biggest boxes on my To Do list. Literally. It was a huge box called a Move Cube and my friends and I loaded it with all my worldly goods. I waved as it left my driveway on the back of a truck and felt as if an even larger load had been lifted from my aching shoulders. It’s out of my hands now, and the next time I see it will be in Melbourne, in about three months’ time.
Of course, not all my worldly goods were in it. A box that is 2,26 metres long by 1,87 metres high by 1,46 metres wide isn’t really big enough to fit all the lifetime trappings of a 53 year old hoarder, but I gave it my best shot. I’ve mused on and off for the last five years about what I will one day take to Australia when my time comes, and what I will leave behind, but I’m afraid my imagination was larger than the actual Cube and I had some difficult decisions to make.
When I was given the green light six months ago, I booked my Move Cube and began my planning in earnest. After a lifetime spent working in the theatre I soon realised that the only way I could work it out properly was to build a scale model of the cube and scale models of all my furniture, and play physical Tetris. Playing with the furniture was easy; the unknown quantity was the boxes and so called “small items” that always take up more space than you think they will. I solved the problem of the boxes by seeking out boxes that would fit exactly between the shelves of my beloved bookcases, and then filling only those boxes.
Unfortunately there are always items that are too large to fit into boxes and they have to be grouped together and painstakingly wrapped in bubble wrap. Pictures, mirrors, that cute cat-shaped blackboard that my friend Mandy made me before departing for Ireland twenty years ago and so on. Add to this the fact that the Australian authorities need to inspect certain things such as shoes, Christmas decorations and wooden articles, which have to be packed separately and placed close to the door, and the picture becomes more complicated.
All my curtains, bedding and clothing went easily in Vac-Bags which had the air sucked out, and my hope was that these would fill in the small gaps and cushion the furniture from bashing against each other en route. Despite my best efforts, as the day drew near I began to despair that I would never fit it all in, and I still hadn’t actually finishing the packing of things into boxes. I don’t think I have ever felt more unprepared for something in my life. And yet I had been planning and sorting for more than six months. How was this possible?
My friend Penny spent two days at my house packing things in bubble wrap and carefully placing them into the designated boxes, and I will forever be grateful to her. The night before the move, I didn’t get as far as sleeping because I spent it wrapping the furniture in bubble wrap, labelling every item (all 95 of them!) and trying to stay awake with a jar of coffee “borrowed” from work because I don’t generally drink the stuff.
Coffee at 2.30 in the morning kept me from falling over and a shower at 7, followed by a fruit smoothie, ensured that I was in reasonable shape by the time my friends Tina and Bryan arrived at 8.30. They found me still throwing clothes into Vac-Bags, even though I was convinced by then that it wasn’t all going to fit in. My landlord Terry, along with Alfred the weightlifter and his young friend, put a tarpaulin on the grass and carried the big table outside so that Tina and Bryan could wrap the legs in bubble wrap.
It was only when I heard the laughter and jokes coming from outside that I realised this was a day to be celebrated, instead of to be dreaded like an execution. I finally began to relax and let it all happen. The plans had been in place for months – all we had to do was work according to the scale model and see what was left over.
When the Cube arrived at 9, I was horrified once again by how small it seemed to be. The others didn’t foresee any problems. The process was short. It was all done in an hour and a half. The driver was impressed at the scale model and said he had never experienced such a smooth loading before. But no one was more surprised than me when it all fitted in and I didn’t have to leave a single box behind!
Tina, Bryan and I celebrated with brunch at a nearby coffee shop and then I fell asleep on my bed at last. It’s been a tiring six months.
Next on my To Do list? Cats on a plane; goodbye to my wonderful friends; me on a plane. I’m finally on my way, Australia…