Saturday, June 03, 2006

Moving: A Failure of Natural Selection

This is my thought of the day, after walking through the streets of New Haven and witnessing dozens of little dramas unfold on and around the ramp of many a U-Haul: Humans are not adapted to move. That's right, I want to argue that moving is just not a naturally selected skill that we possess. Let's think about it: first, we were hunter-gatherers, who had no possessions. Then came the agricultural revolution, so we adapted not by developing stronger backs, or universal desires to give up our earthly possessions for monastic living--but by plopping ourselves into small villages, where we would more likely than not live out the entire length of our days without moving our bodies beyond a 25 mile radius, let alone picking up and moving all of our crap to another city. Thankfully, technology is now helping our poor bodies adapt by making some of this crap smaller and easier to carry (I can't believe I ever actually owned a desktop computer with tower and monitor!), but we're still far behind any true evolutionary success on the issue.

Five Things I Hate About Moving:

1. The Rectangle Tango: having big queen size bed to maneuver down winding flights of stairs, through too-small doorways, requiring the inevitable rectangle tango, in which the holders of said bed do an awkward two-step as they attempt to position and contort the bed through various variations on the conventional lengthwise pickup-and-charge pose.

2. Tchotchkes: not significant enough to take, not meaningless enough to throw away. What to do?

3. Books: I love reading them. I love buying them. I love living with them. I HATE moving them. One sheet of paper is so light--how can a few hundred sheets suddenly become heavy enough to injure if thrown? I will never give up the supreme pleasure of curling up in a comfy chair on a rainy day and reading a chick lit novel in one sitting; or leafing through an old favorite book to reread a memorable passage or chapter; or just the smell and excitement of cracking the cover of a new acquisition...but packing all those pleasures into cardboard boxes and lugging them one by one (so many!) to their new home does make me think for a moment about the possibility of replacing my entire library with a single, thumb-sized, 100 gigabyte flashdrive.

4. Helping: The only thing worse than moving your own moving someone else's. You get none of the nostalgia of finding that old shirt you used to love and thought you lost, none of the satisfaction of deciding once and for all to throw away your college notebooks that you know you'll never read or use, and none of the fun of looking forward to your new place. You do, however, get all of the hard work, all of the exasperation, and all of the idiosyncratic instructions and annoying packing rules from whoever you're helping. And don't forget the years of guilt (on your part) and resentment (on theirs) if you happen to drop and break the heirloom vase or tear the vintage band poster.

5. Anticlimax: Feeling that sweaty exhausted pride of having finally moved every last box out of the old house...only to realize that you now have to completely reverse the process into the new one. Auuuuuuuugggghhh! Really makes you start to reconsider minimalism as a serious way of life.


At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8/16/07: how did i miss this one!!!
you missed the moving of the boxes that were never unpacked from the last move .. that is number 6 for me!
and.. does that mean i do not have to help you move next year??
oh.. but it is so much fun!!


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