Another milestone of parenthood: Moving day


R. and I just took two days away from our workweek to go to Montreal. No hot jazz music or luscious dinners out or very comfortable hotel rooms this time. We were there to do a job: to move our daughter from one apartment to another. This job had another dimension besides the physical labor. It marked the end of an era.

A. has been living in above-average student housing. For three years she has rented a space in a building that is in essence a private dorm. It’s been very convenient, only a few minutes from campus. The building is well-maintained and fully equipped with recycling facilities, laundry room, and a full-time manager-in-residence who has a real talent for judging people accurately on first contact. Jill decided right away she wanted A. in her building, and made it possible to rent a tiny studio that first year, plus matched her up with a roommate and a bigger, better place for her second and third years.

Now that A. is moving on to grad school, she felt ready to move out of the McGill Ghetto (yes, that’s what people call her former neighborhood). She and a long-time friend, also a soon-to-be McGill grad student, decided to find a place together in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, a lovely residential neighborhood west of downtown. They struck gold on their first look around on Craigslist. Let me describe the place: three bedrooms, large living room, refinished hardwood floors, freshly painted and patched walls, new kitchen, new appliances, all for $850 per month INCLUDING heat and hot water. Plus the bus stops right in front of the building, and a lively commercial district with a good supermarket is only a couple blocks away.

Everything worked out. Jill found new tenants for A.’s old place, releasing her from her lease on May 1. The new landlord said she could move in a few days early. So the evening of R.’s birthday and A.’s last final of the semester, we drove up to move her.

We got one unpleasant surprise on Tuesday when we reconnoitered the new place: the renovations were not yet complete, and the kitchen was still completely gutted. The contractors seemed to be milling about rather aimlessly as well. A. let them know that she was moving in that day, and we took off to pick up the rental van.

I have certain anxieties that I cannot shake. One is driving in urban areas, especially congested ones with crazy drivers. Montreal meets all of those criteria. So when it fell to me to reserve a rental vehicle for the moving, I decided the thing to rent would be a cargo van, like plumbers and the like use. And that is what I thought I reserved.

What I actually reserved is a panel van which is one of those U-Haul type trucks with the huge box on the back - in this case a 12 foot box. I was immediately horrified, convinced all sorts of calamities were imminent. Fortunately R. seemed to be OK with driving it, which was good, because I had no intention of driving anything if I could get someone else to take the wheel.

It turns out that renting that truck was the most brilliant thing I did for this particular adventure.

First of all, when you are driving a big truck, everyone stays away from you.

Second, you don’t have to worry about the fact that there is practically no legal place to park in the area where A.’s old apartment is. When you are driving a vehicle that says “moving day”, you can park anywhere you want, and no one tells you to leave.

Third, we were able to move all of the furniture and practically everything else in one trip. If we had had three more boxes, we could have moved everything. Getting it done in one trip is especially good when you are moving during a slushy late spring snow storm and are relying on friends to help. I must say, A. makes friends with some very good people.

After unloading the truck, our intrepid group found a safe place to stash the truck - hooray for Walmart parking lots! - and filled ourselves up with very good pizza. The day was not over yet. We managed to buy a new bed, collect the remaining items at the old apartment, pick up the cat, turn in the keys, and go back to the new apartment, where the three of us collapsed.

We managed to wake up on Wednesday before the contractors and landlord arrived. By the time we headed home, we had assembled two beds and a small desk, and had pushed some of the chaos into a more seemly shape. Only so much could be done, though, with no kitchen in place. By the time we headed home, the contractors had installed a kitchen floor and promised that the cabinets would be installed the next day. What was left to do was all the putting away that A. would want to do for herself. Let’s face it, most of us want to put our clothing and dishes away ourselves in the places we choose for them, and we don’t want our mothers swooping in and organizing our possessions for us.

It all went really well. R. and I were both able to butt out - to let A. make the decisions, and to let her deal with the situation with her landlord and the tardy contractors. We were there to support our daughter in her life, and she is perfectly capable of making good choices. It truly is her life now. I’m so glad that she wants us to be part of it.

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