I’ve PCS’d a couple of times, moved on my own quite a few more, written a few how-to articles on how to have your perfect, effortless move and, well, let’s just say I haughtily considered myself a little bit of an expert on moving.

That was, until this PCS. Because now as I look back at all the articles I’ve written on the glee of moving, they seem to be laughing in my face and saying, ‘welcome to your own nightmare. Karma is… a witch.’

It started when the packers elected to pack for four days, leaving each day at around noon. Then when the movers arrived, one had to leave in the middle of the job. But he didn’t just take his person; he took a truck filled with half of our stuff. I didn’t even get a chance to wave that load goodbye; it was gone in sixty seconds. And then it was two other trucks each half filled.

Did we have an excess of stuff? No! We didn’t. We were so far under our weight limit because I was determined to be so far under our limit that I called a junk removal service to take away everything in excess we’d been hauling for the past five years. So why the three trucks? Just for fun, obviously.

”We will personally move your stuff,’ they said. ‘We’ll be there early next week to deliver,’ they said. ‘Get going,’ they said, ‘so you’re there to receive your goods!’

4:30 AM the next morning, the day after I waved goodbye to some of my household goods, I loaded up the car and the dogs and set off on a journey half way across the country. It was romantic, it was freeing! I was sans husband-the military member- because well, it’s the military and when are we ever in the same place at once?

Even my dog, panting in the seat beside me, his breath smelling of ten day old fish left on a sunny dock couldn’t deter me. Even when a bizarre foreshadowy anxiety crept over my body midway through the trip and I had to pull off to the side of the road because my stomach hurt and I couldn’t figure out why-I plugged on.

‘We’ll be there early next week!,’ I kept mulling over in my head. But then, the following week, I learned where ‘there’ was.

South Carolina. Which is roughly eight hours south of my old residence, in the completely wrong direction from my new residence. By about 1000 miles.

The cherry on top? At some point, my household goods were not consolidated, but instead had been divided into a few loads and were currently stored in different warehouses. In different states. I didn’t figure this out, of course, until someone from the moving company called me and asked if I was ready for pickup.

‘You mean delivery?’

‘No, pick up.’

Because not only are my goods somewhere out there, but the moving company had apparently not even realized that they had picked up our stuff in the first place.

Why? Because we were now dealing with a NEW moving company that had this, ‘thrown in their laps.’

‘Maybe,’ they said, ‘they could get it to me in two or three weeks or so.’

‘Maybe,’ I said as I looked at my daughter growing dangerously bored of playing with the same three toys I’d packed, ‘my head would explode.’

So, now, as I sit here on my folding chair with my computer propped up on the other folding chair, staring at the receipts for the $1.45 Hanes tank tops I bought because I was running dangerously out of clothes and well, I don’t want to spend a million dollars on a new wardrobe to alert the general public about our ‘lavish lifestyle,’ I want to share with you what I did wrong on my PCS. These things I didn’t pack? Maybe you should.

Mistake #1:

Did I pack pots and pans in my car? No! Why? They were going to be there in less than a week, after all. And I figured we’d survive in the four odd days without me cooking.

Mistake #2:
Did I pack reasonable clothes? No! I packed painting clothes. I also packed only a fashionable pair of heels and a pair of slippers. And it’s snowing. I’m not even going to tell you what my feet smell like, because thinly lined slippers should not be worn in the snow. Then in the heated house. Then in the snow. Then accidentally over dog poo. It’s not pretty.

Mistake #3:
Did I pack any reasonable, engaging toys for my child? No! Because at the time, it seemed more important to pack the two throw rugs I purchased previously because it would make the house feel ‘homey.’ And it does. My front entrance is really ‘homey.’ The rest of the home is really ‘bare-y’. My child is really ‘bored-y’.

Mistake #4:
Did I pack any extra lights? No. Because, well, I didn’t bother to check that there might not be ceiling lights in every room. So for the first couple of days, we watched the sun go down and with that, any discernible source of light aside from the fragrant candle I had also purchased. File that under ‘homey’ logic.

So where does this leave me?
Well, I have an 18 month old, two dogs, three folding chairs, no pots and pans, a pack n’ play, and a fridge full of microwavable macaroni and cheese. The only paper I have in the house consists of our medical and vet records, and with her single crayon, my daughter is eyeing them.

I’m drinking wine out of sippy cups, because it makes me forget the smell of my slippers, and eating macaroni and cheese off of paper plates and wondering just how much cancerous material I’m injecting into my kids body as I microwave yet another meal in a Styrofoam container.

I give myself time to grieve the fact that I won’t be seeing my stuff until possibly the next millennia, put on my paint splattered pants and paint splattered sensible heels, and haul myself to the store. I buy a few lights, a pot and some pans and at least six new DVD’s for my daughter- because after the seventieth rendition of ‘Elmo’s World,’ I am nearing Muppet homicide. I call DIRECTV to cancel installation until I figure out where/when/how my stuff is arriving and I apologize by sighing, ‘military move.’

‘No worries,’ they say, ‘it happens all the time.’

A dark smile spreads across my face, ‘yes, I suppose it does.’

Next time I PCS and I’m filling out all my forms, I think, I should I ask if the military movers cover a temporary Xanex prescription.

I make a mental note: call TRICARE in the morning. And remember to bring the pots and pans in the future.

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photo from Jenny Negron


1 Comment

  • This is brilliant. But sad that is does “happen all the time.” You’d think that if we’d be willing to uproot our lives all the time for the benefit of the military, they could at least get a move right. Apparently that is asking too much though.

    Our last PSC was the move from hell. It was a nightmarish experience. We were driving from Boston to Texas with a 3 month old and our dog. We were taking a long road trip en route and figured our stuff would be there in storage by the time we got to TX. Oh, what a nice “thought” – because that’s all it was! We arrived in TX three weeks later to find that one, the base had no room for us and couldn’t accommodate our pet. We eventually stayed in billeting but it was the “pet billeting.” Lovely, lovely situation that had going on. And two, our stuff had never even left Boston. We stayed on base for a week. The house we were promised to be ready to move into was delayed another week. And was in condition 10 times worse than the photos they sent us. But we had to live somewhere! We lived in our house with folding chairs, some pots and pans (did think of that one!), and an air mattress for another three weeks. With a baby. Fun times.

    Our stuff was 6 weeks late, completely damaged and delivered by ONE guy. ONE man moved all our things into our house. They didn’t even send a moving crew. We didn’t have that much stuff, but we had couches and thing. So of course my husband had to help. Apparently, they moved our things from truck to truck about 5 times, hence all the damage. The packers from the old house threw a very fragile wreath into a really large box, not wrapped at all, that was full of other stuff. Obliterated. And it was custom made.

    I just can’t wait to move again!!!!!

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