All 5 people in our family moved to a new place in 2019. Amidst all the chaos, I hope I did more than just shuffle stuff around but sometimes I wonder.
I am a professional mover. I know you might be thinking that every day I get up and go to an actual moving company, put on a dark blue shirt with my name stitched on the pocket, pack boxes, load and unload a semi-trailer and figure out what to do with the 534 boxes and several thousand sheets of packing paper I have just used on a job. But I don’t always leave my house to do my work and I have never earned a dollar for any of it. Still, I consider myself a professional. How else can I explain that I move objects, people, pets, food and even invisible things and have never lost any of them? Sure, sometimes I break or misplace something but because I am a professional, I have good insurance and a robust reimbursement policy.
I didn’t start out as a professional mover or even plan to become one. It just sort of happened over time, a by-product of accumulation of years of marriage, kids, pets, empty picture frames that I’m sure I will use one day, books on “birthing from within,” decorative pillows and cans of anchovies. All these people and all this stuff have places to go: school, the vet for a follow up leptospirosis vaccine, a place on the living room wall, a dusty shelf, a corner on the couch or a precise spot in the pantry in a row of canned goods organized by height. Someone has to get them where they need to be. That someone is me.
Work starts the minute I wake up when I move myself out of bed and into the bathroom. I try to be grateful that I can move from place to place independently, but there are times when I don’t appreciate moving as much as I should. Like when I go to the muscle works class at the gym and force myself to move my muscles against resistance because being mid-life and post-menopausal has certain effects which make it much harder to move the two ends of my waistband toward each other. Having a reward for this type of work is key, so I move chocolate into my mouth.
Early on in my career as a professional mover, I thought I would only have to move myself but once I got good at it, others noticed. My husband was so impressed that after four years of marriage he expected me to move a baby into the world. I guess I did a good job because I moved two more babies after six and ten years of marriage. These are the kinds of moves you swear you will neverdo again but then you get rather attached to the contents and want to see what the next one will be like. Moving babies created the greatest challenge of my career: breastfeeding. No amount of on-the-job training prepared me to move milk from my breast, which had become the size and hardness of a cantaloupe, into my baby’s mouth which would suddenly appear to shrink to the size of a pin head every time my nipple went near it. No amount of chocolate helped.
Babies aside, most of my work is mundane and very repetitive. I move dishes into the dish washer, a toothbrush into my mouth, legs into pants, clothes out of the washer and into the dryer, a dog leash onto and off of my dog’s collar or snow from the sidewalk onto a giant pile next to the driveway. But once in a while I pay extra attention to what I’m doing because I might be making a move I will never make again. Like when I finally bought that red, 5-quart Kitchen Aid stand mixer and moved it from its box onto my kitchen counter, the mundane seemed miraculous and I experienced a kind of joy I didn’t know moving could bring.
It’s usually easy for me to understand my job as a professional mover, yet there are times every day when I am perplexed by the moves my fingers (even my fingers can be movers!) do to make things appear and disappear. I type words onto a computer screen and they end up as an email in someone’s inbox. I tap on tiny letter tiles on my phone and they end up as my husband’s turn in a digital crossword puzzle game. Or I stick a tiny piece of plastic into my computer and then I have something called an IMG in a 2014 picture file. How does any of that happen? Maybe I have a tiny moving assistant who grabs the message or tile or picture, checks all the possible places they could go and then moves them to the correct location – just like if my neighbor had a baby and I baked cookies and out of all the houses on the block, I managed to move them to the right house.
Even when I understand my work, some moves just don’t go as planned. I moved a ¾ guitar into my house when one of my daughters was eight. She played it for a while but then the ¾ guitar sat in a closet for about five years before her younger sister decided she wanted to play it. They tried to tune it using a ukulele and an electronic piano which had also sat unused for about five years. One sister insisted the other was tone deaf but they kept trying to tune the ¾ guitar anyway, tightening the strings until one popped off. I moved the ¾ guitar to the music shop intending to use the freed-up space for our full-sized son who had moved in for winter break. But then the music shop called and said that even though there was five-year’s worth of un-moved finger grease, dust, and general gunk on the metal strings, the guitar could be restrung and played again. So even though my work usually doesn’t cost me a thing, I paid $27.14 for new strings and moved that ¾ guitar backinto the house.
Every once in a while, I think I’ll take a day off or get a new job. But the reality is that every day is moving day and there is a lot of work to be done. If you have any moves in your future, be they big or small, I wish you the best of luck.