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The Best Laid Plans
The Covid Pandemic can be blamed for many derailments in the second decade of the 21st century. Our plans to move from one continent to another were certainly one of thousands of such postponements. By the time we finally had the right documentation from the Italian government and there were no more quarantines, we were fortunate enough to sell our building privately and avoid having to clean our apartment every time a realtor needed to show it to prospective buyers.
Even though the store space had not been rented out (we did not want to have a lease issue when we sold the building) we still had over fifty years of living in our home above the shop to sort though before we moved. While my husband is a borderline hoarder, I throw things out faster than the speed of light, sometimes regretting the loss later. After a few futile attempts at preparing our home for moving company estimators, we decided to simply contact the movers and have them guide us and make their proposals. At our age, we realized that we did not want to do the packing ourselves, and that we also needed a removal service for items that weren’t going to make it into our new digs in Italy…which we still don’t have. And as we discovered in Part I of the Big Move, you need the actual Elective Residency permit to move and store your household possessions in Italy without having to pay customs.
After researching moving companies online that are really equipped for handling an international move, we discovered that when you read the fine print, there aren’t many. We decided on three, one of which did the estimate totally by video call on our cell phones – which I found a bit unnerving. A second company farmed out our request to another firm that would be their subcontractor – which we found to be equally unnerving. The third company actually had a scheduler call me with an appointment time, and a real person came to visit us who thoroughly inspected all the rooms, opened all the closets and cupboards with us, and outlined the steps we needed to take (and also crossed off ones that weren’t necessary). She said that when we signed the contract, she would set a three-day time frame for the move. Interesting note: end of May through June is the busiest period for movers, so the fact that we were not moving until the end of July made scheduling easier…and pricing less expensive. Her company sent us an estimate with some provisos. She also outlined for us which items would need to have special crates built. They would hire a specialist to crate art objects, chandeliers, antique or fragile furniture. Needless to say, we chose Interstate Moving Relocation Logistics located in Springfield, Virginia.
Preparing For Day One
There were two areas that this company made clear that they would not move: the first was cash, stock certificates and valuable jewelry; the second was liquor and wine. Since my jewelry collection includes an admittedly large number of cheesy, outlandish earrings and my valuable jewelry can be stored in a container the size of a tuna can, this condition was not hard to adjust to.
The second was a bit more difficult. The RWM (Resident Wine Maniac) has come by his initials honestly. He had acquired and stored a rather large (by my standards) wine collection, somewhat messily but in a temperature controlled space that had been first used to store ice and later coal under the sidewalk attached to the basement of our vintage building, When we first committed ourselves to moving to Italy, he blithely predicted that we would with our friends drink through his collection. This proved difficult, as he kept purchasing more wines. We did our best. After much hand-wringing on my part and a fair number of wonderful wine-filled meals, he found a wine merchant who was willing to store his wines until we could ship them overseas, A) in cold weather and, B) when we had our final residence permit so that we would not have to pay customs. We are still virtually kissing her feet.
Our moving consultant said that Day One, all packing would be completed. She estimated 200 boxes and crates. Day Two, a different crew would crate and move all designated boxes and furniture into trucks and store our belongings in their stateside warehouse. Day Three would be reserved for her recommended company to remove the remainder and leave our building (with its 5 floors, including basement) “broom clean”. You can either have the moving company arrange for the parking (a fee is charged) or you can do it yourself. We chose the latter, as the City of Alexandria makes it very easy to accomplish this online.
We decided to go through our books, which were many, and select which ones would make it to our future English library in Bologna. KD’s sharp-penciled editor informed me that Alexandria Library happily takes your unwanted books, and we off-loaded about 30 crates (but not my cookbooks). Our friends took pantry items and liquor. My lemon and lime trees were bequeathed to a friend who is a mixologist manqué and has a green thumb. I did have to hug my fig tree goodbye, but fortunately the new owner of our building loves figs. Saying goodbye to the planters on my deck and bequeathing them to a dear friend who manages to revive plants that I throw away proved not to be as difficult as I had thought.
Preparing For Day Two
Having solved the moving company issue and found a fairy godmother for the sacred wine collection, our moving consultant recommended that we use an appropriately named company 123 Junk to clear out four floors of unwanted relics. We purchased a roll each of yellow, blue and green painter tapes The yellow would be for furniture, or whole areas that would be packed by movers; the green would be stuff to be removed by 123 Junk; and blue items were to be left for the next owner or our friends who wanted to take them. Belongings in our daughters’ bedrooms were left to the Bologna daughter to organize. Paybacks are hell. 123 Junk’s estimator said we would be charged for 1 4/5 trucks worth of “stuff” that would be donated, recycled or trashed. Their informative website is very clear as to what they will and won’t take.
The packers were a group of five women, who started at 8am and followed all spaces that were marked with yellow tape. Everything was carefully insulated and packed, each box inventoried for its contents and numbered. They were finished before 3:30 pm, and the final box count was 109 and not 200. The whole experience of watching them quietly wrap and pack was mysteriously calming.
On the second day, around 8am a very different crew arrived. Three BIG men with three smaller but very fit and agile assistants. The crating specialist arrived a bit later and set up a small carpentry shop outside the shop entrance of the building and proceeded to build five crates, then insulating each piece that went into them in different ways. He quietly left a few hours later, and the moving crew was also finished before 4pm. They went through the remaining items marked with yellow tape, and even pointed out to us items we had missed that we meant to have included. We again only watched fascinated, as they worked through the building.
Preparing For Day Three
Day Three arrived with a procession of three, soon to be five bright red trucks bearing the logo of 123 Junk at 8am. The men, all in matching red shirts, started at the basement level and cleaned everything out and proceeded to go through each room and remove everything that had been left behind marked with green tape. Our friends who had wanted the items marked with blue tape came at the same time and removed their treasures. Refrigerator and freezer were cleaned out, floors were swept and vacuumed, We signed off to the guys in red, and even though they had brought the extra trucks, the remnants of our life at 323 Cameron Street fit exactly into the originally predicted 1 and 4/5 of another truck. Our house, which was built in 1810 and had stored grain, been a gun shop, a coffee house and an art studio and lately a kitchen store, was ready for yet another new owner. We take with us decades of treasured memories, and our dedication to find a new home to hold the next decade’s beautiful stories.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.