- Ditch the moving company. They create stress and hectic, break things, at least one of the crew has a bad attitude and they cost you a fortune. Okay, don’t ditch them entirely, but limit their service to carrying the things you or your friends can’t/won’t carry. That is at least my plan for the next move. (In 10 years. Can’t face moving again soon.)
- Wear something that has pockets (you’ll have all that stuff you need to store somewhere), have a lanyard keychain (the best way to keep track of all the keys, old and new) and keep your sunglasses close (regardless of the weather, these are for shading your eyes in tears as you walk out of what used to be your dear home).
- Do not move clutter (just don’t!) and when you unpack, re-examine your belongings again. I decluttered half of my books upon arrival. I tell myself that libraries exist.
- Don’t throw away that empty extra plastic back lying around. You will need it. There is always more to collect (random items, trash, love letters) before you walk out of your old home.
- Pack a box labeled “FIRST BOX”. If you can have that box in a different color than the others to find it even quicker (are there like red moving boxes?), that’s even better. In that box, put essentials like toilet paper and bed sheets. Don’t put the charger for your phone in there. That item is so important you should keep it close to your body at all times.
- Speaking of the phone, you will need internet on your phone. Do not use up all your data before your move like I did. You will feel completely handicapped when you can’t navigate the new neighborhood, look up a hardware store, check your bank account or connect to WhatsApp.
- I unpacked within less than two days. Not because I am a great person but because I have nothing I don’t need so the whole “I didn’t unpack that box for a year” makes zero sense to me. I unpack because I am frantically looking for something in those boxes all the time. That’s a sure sign you brought non-clutter.
- Allow yourself several months to settle in and feel at home again. Home is where you make it, but you don’t make it in ten days. (Which sucks, but it’s true!)
There is a good chance this has been my most terrible move so far. You would think hiring movers and paying them a serious amount of money would simplify the process and save you energy but no. At least not with this company. My stove is not working at all (after they installed it, it went beserk heating up a random hot plate to the maximum while showing that it was off so it had to be taken from the electricity), my lamp is broken, my posters buckled, screws lost and plants hackly. The water pipe under the sink is leaking, the lights in the kitchen only partially function and the cabinets not completely reassembled…and this is not even all that I am listing. In addition to all that, their boss apparently has trouble estimating time because they needed until past 9 pm on two days (!) to get done.
Luckily, my mom came and helped me, with impressive patience and endurance, to assemble an IKEA closet (a serious pain…taking several hours). I spent the evening unpacking and cleaning up after the movers that thought it absurd to clean up any mess they made or even discard their coffee cups.
But now I am home, at least in my Lebensabschnittszuhause [life phase home, in German you can even have a life phase partner if you don’t plan to grow old with her/him], a new word I discovered on Twitter and find very fitting. With my washing machine and my dishwasher, and my sofa, such luxury. Many of the neighbours came by already yesterday, introducing themslves with their last names (“I am Frau Müller, welcome to the house”), and in 90 percent informing me of the high risk of bulgaries and to under all circumstances lock everything I can. I am only a little scared now, but the neighbours seemed to be friendly, respectable people.
And the one thing that did not go wrong with this move: the internet worked at once.
There is a lot of things I despise about moving but there is also a few I love. Like declutterig deluxe, you know when you are standing there, the person who helps you move next to you, hectically asking, „Are you keeping this?“ And then suddently, the sentimentality is toned down in the face of „Will I pack, carry and unpack this without resenting myself for my decision?“ I can ten more easilly part from old flower pots, extra sciccors and bottles that I had thought to become romantic candle holders.
Today, the moving men dissembled my kitchen for transport and I was shocked to see how much dirt there is in the places you hardly can reach for cleaning. Winnie, the leader of the movers who told me about all the celebrities he helped move („My last move to Düsseldorf was the neighbor of Verona Pooth!“), waved aside my disgust with the top of my dish washer. My home was more or less sterile, he said, compared to what he usually sees. The movers also thought I had a very well-decluttered home, „owning almost nothing“, and when I opened to basement for them to take my belongings stored there out, the smallest of the pack, looked at me unbelievingly. „That’s all? I rarely see a basement with so few things.“
Maybe their utterings were just psychological tricks, what they know they need to tell people who look at the full moving truck and cannot believe how much baggage they are carrying around with themselves in life. But I prefer to take them as compliments for my domestic success.
The renowed Heling Agency for Awesomeness is opening an office in West Germany Dizzeldorf as of 2016. The lease for the premises was signed today.
“We are relieved to finally have found a space that fits the requirements of Heling”, co-owner Helen said. The place is located in Eastern Dizzel in the up and coming district of Flingern-Nord or Flake Town as Heling calls the district based on its name that reminds the Swedish-speaker as the word flingor (flakes).
The Hamburg branch of the agency will continue to operate under Ingrid’s captaincy. Helen expects the cooperation to continue as sucessfully as before: “Our expansion is not a sign of growing apart but rather of spreading the word about Heling to all parts of Germany”.
Heling Agency was founded in 2014 and delivers international awesomeness. The clients of Heling Agency include leading names such as The Swedish Church and HE Postcard Services.
Today my colleague wrote an email to our boss about an invitation text. “Our textexpert Helen has suggested the following changes”. Oh, did I like that title! It is almost as great an honor as my title “Hustysk” even if I don’t feel entirely qualified for either title (when I compare myself to my professionally writing friends or when someone asks me something about German traditions and I have to look it up.)
Before I got to work, I answered questions about the Stockholm Card via Whatsapp in my sleep (my former boss would be so proud) and moved house. Talk about efficiency. My new place where I will live until Christmas is equipped with a real kitchen that has four chairs. I doubled my amount of chairs from the attic room – let the dinner parties begin! I can even host overnight guests (o come all ye faithful), the internet actually works (can hardly get used to that) and – håll i hatten – I have a TV! As I prefer watching the public channels (taking back my license fees), the programme is a bit depressing (the refugee question is a big topic). The bathroom is at least as tiny as a Swedish corridor bathroom (people over 1,80 metres cannot use the toilet) but it is not as warm here above Dizzel’s roofs, such a relief. Now I only have to unpack my five bags…
Maybe providence is planning for me to marry someone from the U.S. Army. Not that I am particularily fond of armies (no yellow ribbon on my non-existent car) or have a record of dating U.S. citizens, but the fact that I am constantly packing and unpacking large moving boxes makes me think that maybe the point of all of this is that by the time I marry that U.S. Army Sergeant, I will have transformed into a Military Mom who is totally okay with moving every year. (In army language, they call it PCS (permanent change of station), you see I am educating myself already.)
Because these past days, I have spent hours and hours packing. What do I absolutely need in Düsseldorf the next four months? What do I need to be able to access very quickly in Hamburg? What can I ship and what do I need to carry with me? How do I store my ball gown?
You would think packing and moving would be very easy if you are renting out your apartment with furniture and have been frantically decluttering ever since you moved in. Let me tell you, it isn’t. It still means these moments of wanting to throw everything away (“I only need two dresses and one pair of shoes anyway!”), questioning your moving decision (“What am I supposed to do in a city where Ingrid does not live?”) and wanting to ask God if this is ever going to end (while knowing the answer, Hebrews 13,14).
The one thing that I have learned at least during my now, about 26 moves, (apart from free yourself from clutter!), is:
Label your boxes with numbers and keep a document in which you write down the content of the boxes in as much detail as possible. For example: “Box 4: Winter coats, green and grey, winter boots, velour and black, white woolen hat, black mittens”. It really helps because if you use your moving boxes more than once, writing on the boxes will become a complete mess. Also, with the document, you will be able to guide someone from a distance to locate your green winter coat whiile you sitting somewhere else with the document. “It’s on box 4, check for the box with the big 4 on it”. (Ingrid, now you know what is awaiting you once the winter makes its entry in Dizzle.)
After I carried a giant box to the parcel service (“Are you sure this is under 25 kg?”), I have given up for today and shall put my feet up and watch my latest TV discovery from Denmark: “Rita” is a series about a very outspoken and rebellious woman. Rita is a school teacher who is competent in the classroom, but seems to need a teacher of her own, when it comes to her personal life. It is an entertaining and distinctive show, and also, they speak Danish which is amazing in itself. You can watch it on Netflix.
When my friends and family want to send me something, they usually contact me digitally in advance to ask for my address. That is (mostly) not because they are forgetful but rather because it is hard to keep up with my ever-changing domiciles. In the past four years, I have changed my address fourteen times. It’s ridiculous. And the 15th move is just around the corner!
The tenant of the prettiest apartment with the biggest kitchen I have looked at last week decided to give her home to me during the fourth months she will be in Finland. (Dare-devilish to move to Finland in the fall if you ask me.) The apartment is situated in a calm residential area on the fifth floor. Without an elevator. But unlike my current attic room, it has an oven, a freezer, functioning internet and I am allowed and able to host visitors. (I have come to the conclusion that it goes against (the Oriental part of?) my personality to not be able to be hospitable.)
I am also moving a bit away from work but it is only a five minute difference or something by bike and my co-workers who know town better than me have very clearly stated that the area is a good place to live, “and so close to Moltkestraße, you can totally hang out there all the time!”
So I am moving in the end of August and then I hope to catch up with baking, cooking and having people in my kitchen. It is not The Blue Table but it’s getting closer!
Some things never change. One of them is my inherited always just in time arrival to any means of transportation. The train leaves at quarter to? Then I leave the house at half. Mind you, I have never missed a flight and only two trains in 27 years (curiously enough both were going from Uppsala to Stockholm).
Something that is also typical of my life is that I have friends over until the minute I need to leave to move to another town. I still remember Nicola sitting on my floor with me in Stockholm 15 months ago until I was picked up to go to the airport. Today, Kajsa came by to say her goodbyes and Ingrid escorted me to the train station.
I spent most of the four hours train ride looking out of the window and after two and a half hours I knew I had come to the Ruhr area. How I knew? The train stations appearing used the old corporate identity of Deutsche Bahn. This is a mystery I must solve during my time in the Far West: why on earth does this region hold on to the Eighties so much? Especially when it comes to the train stations, this puzzles me because it so defeats the purpose of a corporate identity.
And now I’ve landed. It brings back the many times before that I’ve spent a first night somewhere. Locating a supermarket, finding the way home, putting sheets on the bed (in my case sheets designed by the Swedish Prince. Evelina gave them to me.) My temporary home reminds me of an upgraded attic chamber (it is so warm in here) and I still have to get used to the scarce inventory (the landlady itemized ‘two bowls, four spoons, five knives’) and the lack of a dishwasher, a sofa, an Ingrid.
Many people have written to me today to wish me luck. Thank you! I shall close with the most poetic line I received:
“Rhenfloden flyter glatt och väntar på dig”.
(The Rhine River is flowing happily, waiting for you)
Oh, Hamburg, we have had such a bad start. I was homeless, unemployed and miserably longing for where I had come from when I arrived to you. After a half-year-struggle, I finally started to get on my feet again. Although things have not been great, I decided to grit my teeth and make this work. And eventually, it did.
Slowly, I learned how to love you. I began to follow the local media, the regional politics, I started caring and participating and whenever I had been in a different city, I came home thinking like a real Hamburger, “Thank God I live here and not there”. My eyes started looking mildly onto your ugly spots and after a year, I could bring myself to feel some kind of affection for the unsightly cranes in the harbor that real Hamburgers think are gorgeous.
When I biked by your waters, I marveled at your skyline, my heart opened up to the many little white sailboats just some minutes from my door. I began to feel privileged to live close to a beach, to reside in the nation’s center of attention (in Hamburg, we hanseatically, gracefully spurn Berlin). What I had first just told myself on an intellectual level, had finally reached heart, too: Hamburg is the German city you want to live in.
How much more melancholic it is now that our ways are to part again, for probably some years. Just when I thought I had found my place, I was called way out west – a call I have carefully contemplated and will heed.
Louise came over for a short visit the day after I moved. I was determined to put up the fixtures for my curtains and we went all the way to the Baumarkt like real Heimwerker after we found that the fixtures my parents had given me were too small for my windows. After the odyssey there and back we decided we were strong independent women who dare to drill (even though I am really scared to drill on Sundays, weekdays between 13-15 and after 19 because THE NOISE. You never know when they will ring the doorbell again and scream at you because you exist). The strong independent women had to conclude however that in the moving chaos we were completely unable to find the crucial part of the drilling machine. Basically, I will have to unpack everything first now to be able to find that black box again.Speaking of unpacking, it drives me mad. I spent almost a day decluttering all the boxes in the living room. You can be proud of me, I have parted from a lot of very sentimental things, more than two very large garbage bags have gone, I have given away more than two boxes and there is more to follow in the other rooms.
Unfortunately the impulse to let go of everything usually only lasts a short while for me after carrying up all my belongings. That is the point where I always feel that “no way on earth do I have to have all this” and “I feel crushed by the mounting boxes”. This time, it has gotten so far that I have said to several witnesses that I should only own one or two pieces of signature furniture and otherwise move through life without beds and tables and shoe racks and chairs and mirrors. Let me just make this clear, I really do not think I own more than other people. It is just that they move less often so that it does not show as much. They also have entire rooms at their parents still while I now assemble everything on my own 46 square metres. But whatever – I need to go back to the boxes before the declutter impulse goes away…