Part 6 of the series about surviving a devastating fire
Moving house is always a bit of a stressful time, packing / unpacking, dealing with boxes, organizing “stuff”.
Moving into a place with nothing, one would think there would be less stress from packing / unpacking. Whilst I would somewhat agree, of course it is a different kind of stress when moving somewhere with nothing, due to losing it all. The emotions aside of the loss of irreplaceable items, the stress is more around having to start from scratch again. As mentioned in a previous blog, the emotion of having to replace even something trivial, heightens certain emotions.
In some cases, there is the emotion of getting something new – almost exciting in such a situation, but when having to replace something you have cherished, your emotion turns to a kind of grief. I really don’t want to trivialize other kinds of loss (especially human loss), but I want to try to give perspective around certain material possessions that many of us take for granted every day (remember the colander!).
My key priority when I first moved into my apartment was the safety and comfort of my cats. If they could settle and have a semblance of normalcy, then I knew I could concentrate on me and what I needed.
Organizing items in a sequence was important to me – it is in my nature to be organized, and typically I like to plan things. Of course it is hard to focus and plan in such circumstances, but as mentioned in previous blogs, I did go into my “Project Management Mode” to get me through the early days. And that was key for me moving forward.
How did I do it?
I was so lucky, many friends had given me all sorts of things, small but so very important – toiletries, toothbrush, clothing, an air bed, household items like toilet tissue and paper towels, everyday things we typically have in our cupboards.
I cannot thank all my dear friends for making sure I had the “basics”, so I could concentrate on getting the cats and other stuff sorted.
I really could not have dealt with all of this without the amazing people around me.
Deliveries, deliveries, deliveries!
From day 1 until I cannot remember, I had deliveries every single day. Small items, medium items, big items.
When I first moved in, we had an old front door, I had no bell, USPS and UPS were a nightmare. I was home, but they couldn’t ring a bell.
My landlord was working on getting a new door / entry system set up, but it took a while!
My FedEx guy is amazing – He would beep his horn when he arrive, so I could run down the stairs and let him in. Then he would kindly bring the boxes up to the third floor. Forever grateful to him.
As for USPS and UPS – it was hit or miss. I would sit at my countertop during the times they would typically arrive, and shout down to them, but more often than not I would miss the USPS folks. And then I would have to chase up and go fetch the packages from the post office.
My main furniture came directly from the companies I ordered from, and I had them set it up, which also meant they removed the packaging – yay for that! That was my sofa, bed, coffee table and side table. Everything else was on me to dispose of the packaging and boxes.
In NYC we have to ensure our recycling items (boxes in particular) are flattened and taped. Thursday nights were box flattening nights. There were boxes everywhere, including the lobby of my building. Thankfully my landlord is very understanding.
I remember one night in October, exhausted from receiving boxes and setting up my bedroom furniture, which came in huge (HUGE!) boxes, with that damn styrofoam stuff, I had a complete meltdown. I lay on the kitchen floor among the boxes and just cried and cried and cried. I was exhausted. When would it end.
Multiple trips up and down the stairs made me miss my main floor home even more.
I understand that when anyone moves, they have to deal with boxes. Packing one end and unpacking the other. But a move of that nature is planned. For me, none of this was planned, it was a new start, which in one way is exciting, but for me it was a daily reminder of what I had lost. I was physically and mentally spent.
As time went by, the boxes (especially the huge ones) got less frequent, but each week I would still have a bunch of boxes to deal with. This obviously included my typical deliveries of Chewy and shopping of course.
As I look back today on those weeks and weeks of boxes, I feel a sense of accomplishment. The apartment is pretty much all together now. Although I do now have huge boxes containing my window shutters sat in my office and bedroom. The cats like them, as they are about 6 feet tall, and so they like to sit on top of them!
They also love sitting in the boxes and playing in them – for them it is always a fun thing.
And now life is kind of back to normal. I hope to have the shutters installed by the end of March, and hopefully that will be the end of big boxes!
As I sit and reflect on these past few months, it does give me a feeling of pride and accomplishment. I may have had the odd meltdown, but I can look back now, and look around my apartment and see the results of what all those boxes were about – The boxes were about rebuilding my life.
Next up in my series of surviving a devastating fire, I will talk about the little things that make my new place feel a little more like home. The coming to terms with all that happened on this newly carved out journey of my life.