Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 22, 2013

Garret Leiva: Things get messy during life's moments

Local columnist

---- — Life is full of moving experiences: weddings, the birth of a child, a friend lost to cancer.

Then there are the moving experiences that involve bubble wrap and boxes.

Our neighbor friends left this week. They sold their house — not easy in today’s real estate market. However, the hard part was packing up all the accumulated homeownership.

They had a week to vacate a house that was no longer their premises.

We’ve all been there at some point: moving day. U-Haul. I haul. We all haul a sleeper sofa up three flights of stairs.

Packing up your entire house can feel like an exercise in futility. It also does wonders for the thoracic vertebrae.

Helping move all the earthly — and ungodly heavy — belongings of others can put a strain on muscles and relationships. This is why I always lift with my legs while biting my tongue.

Moving a coworker or casual acquaintance can be awkward, especially if you spill open an unmarked “Fifty Shades of Grey” starter kit. When a move involves family or friends, however, decorum is tossed aside like a moldy bean bag chair.

I’ve unloaded garbage bags stuffed with frying pans, underwear and cans of WD-40. I’ve also carried colored-coded boxes into color-coded rooms. Moves can test friendships and crush fingers; like when you negotiate an 8-foot armoire through a 6-foot door.

When it comes to packing, men and women move in different directions, if not orbits. The female packer cocoons wedding china in four-ply bubble wrap. A man would use socks out of the dirty clothes.

While gender is a packing XY-factor, age also plays a role.

In my early 20s I traveled light. My life fit in a few paper bags. The hardest part of leaving for college was squeezing giant dorm room stereo speakers into my car.

Along with the first real job came another big move into adulthood: an apartment.

The first place my wife and I rented was a 400-square-foot hovel literally above our landlord’s head. The place was so small you could change TV channels sitting in the recliner — without using a remote.

Our next dwelling offered more elbow room. In fact, there was enough space for two elbows on the kitchen table. It also meant moving our first couch, bed, dresser and plenty of et cetera up the stairs.

I shudder at the thought of packing up our suburbia washer-and-dryer lives at this point.

Years ago, U-Haul used “adventures in moving” as a marketing slogan. The ad genius who came up with this gem was obviously still living in his parents’ basement. I’m sure the idea conjured up epic family-bonding trips in the boardroom.

Out in the real world, most of us like to avoid “adventure” with all our worldly goods in tow. Thankfully, our neighbors had an unadventurous move a few miles down the road.

I’ve had several moving experiences in my lifetime. Unlike the miracle of birth, I wouldn’t call them all a labor of love.

Reach Garret Leiva care of the Record-Eagle or via email at