(Originally posted January 6, 2013)
I’ll start off the story of how we got where we are with a decent amount of exposition. If you’ve read my previous reports, you already know some of this, but I feel like a refresher never hurts.
Tracy and I grew up in Colorado, but until recently we had been living in New York City. I had gone to school there starting in 2006, and Tracy joined me there after she graduated in 2009. Our life there was interesting, but not exactly what we had hoped for. We both found ourselves getting burnt out on living in the big city by mid-2011, so we had been planning how to make a change for about a year before we actually made one.
Our plans evolved over the year leading up to the actual move. Part of it was impacted by the fact that my health went a little south toward the end of 2011. I won’t bore you with all the technical details, but basically I have dysautonomia, also known as a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system. Since that system controls everything from breathing to blood pressure to digestion, the slightest problem with it can throw your whole body off. There are a whole slew of symptoms but it most often manifests itself in me as an inability to stand for long periods of time without almost passing out. I also will have episodes of severe brain fogs where I feel dizzy and generally unable to think very well. Consequently, our lives have been more than slightly disrupted since this has been a part of them.
The original plan that we devised for ourselves stemmed from our visit to Disneyland in September 2011. We realized that we enjoyed California—at least what we had seen of it—and that it seemed like the polar opposite of New York, which we were ready for! Hence, we started devising a plan to move to the L.A. area once our lease was up at the end of August 2012. We started doing our research about California living over the first half of 2012, all the while saving as much money as we possibly could to prepare for the move. This would have meant that we wouldn’t have been able to visit Disney at all in 2012, but amazingly, we won our trip to Walt Disney World during Lou Mongello’s fifth anniversary podcast of the WDW Radio Show. That trip, in May 2012 was absolutely amazing. Everything about it was as close to perfect as I can imagine a trip being.
Unfortunately, our luck seemed to run out soon after we returned from WDW. I had a major flare up of my health issues at the beginning of June, which lasted much longer than we would have hoped. I was left unable to do much of anything for our last two months in NYC. We hoped it would pass and I would be ready for our move to California, which we had tentatively planned for early August. We were going to fly to Colorado and stay with Tracy’s parents for a week or two. We planned to buy a car there—you don’t need a car when you live in New York City—and then drive out to California.
As June turned to July and I still wasn’t feeling better, we realized we needed to rethink the plan a bit. Tracy’s parents very kindly consented to host us on a more open-ended basis while we saw what would happen with my health and tried to devise the best possible plan for when to complete our move. This brought us to the beginning of August, and our last week in NYC. We had both finished up with our jobs and had turned our complete focus to the move.
We found U-Haul’s moving service called their “U-Box.” It’s basically the same idea as the PODS moving containers where you load up your box with all of your possessions and then the company moves it for you. Luckily with U-Box, they also simply give you the option to store your possessions in the box locally before they ship them off to your destination. Since we had no real idea where exactly we were going to end up (or when), it made the most sense for us to have our box stored in the New York area until we knew where to tell them to send it.
Knowing the dimensions of the U-Box in advance, we found ourselves the night before our move with all of our worldly belongings packed up into boxes—or thrown together in other ways—while we prepared to load up the next day. We mapped out these dimensions on the floor of our apartment and then piled everything together in a mass that emulated the U-Box. We had to be as sure as possible that we weren’t going to exceed the space limits.
The next morning, the moving company that we were using to transport and load up the box arrived at our apartment. The movers came upstairs, saw our pile, and asked exactly the very last question we wanted to hear from them: “So what are your high priority items in case everything doesn’t fit?” Balking for a second, we regained our composure quickly and asserted that we were pretty sure everything would fit fine. After the pair of movers made more trips than I care to remember down to the box, we luckily found that we were right. Everything fit no problem, and we closed up the box really hoping that we would someday see our stuff again in one piece.
We spent our last twenty-four hours in New York doing what I think any logical set of people in the middle of a move would do—we ate a lot and went to the zoo! Okay, we also did lots of cleaning and grunt-work to turn our apartment around before vacating, but we knew that finishing everything in time to make one last trip to the Central Park Zoo before flying out was the most important.
We had to bid farewell to the animal friends we had faithfully visited at least monthly during our last year and a half in the city. First, there was the disgruntled llama named Frankie. Frankie was the biggest brat ever. There is a petting zoo at the Central Park Children’s Zoo, and he became our biggest frenemy on all of our visits there. Refusing to be pet but loving to be fed, he always stayed strategically out of reach at any given moment. Then on this last trip, suddenly Frankie was friendly. He seemed to know that this was goodbye, because he let both Tracy and I pet his afro several times without pulling away. I think it was his last act of spite.
We were also sad to bid farewell to the sea lions we loved visiting at the zoo. Sea lions are my favorite animals, and we loved watching the crew here.
Finally, we had to pay one last parting visit to the area of Central Park by our apartment where every night there was a raccoon witching hour. There were tens if not hundreds of raccoons living in the trees and sewer lines in this area, and every day at dusk we would take a walk around to see them all as they came out for their nighttime wanderings. There were several sets of babies, and they were all just adorable.
These goodbyes accomplished—yes, the fact that most of the goodbyes we had to make as we prepared to leave New York were animals may give you an indication why we weren’t too torn up about leaving the place—our time for departure officially came. Exhausted from our days of moving and cleaning, we took a last look at our 500 square foot studio apartment and headed out.
It only makes sense that our last cab ride to the airport was as fraught with terror as every cab ride we took in the years of living in the city. Despite having our lives in the hands of a typical cabbie, however, as we got off the island of Manhattan and pulled up to JFK, I could already feel my stomach unclenching. Between our hellish last few months in NYC and the stress of moving, this was the moment when we finally felt like we could start breathing again. Phase one of the move was almost successfully complete.
Our bags were full to bursting—two pieces of checked luggage, two rolling carry-ons, and two backpacks held everything we would be living out of for the next indefinite amount of time. Amazingly, however, the entire flight went off without a hitch. We took one last look out the window as we took off from New York, and three hours later we landed in Denver. Even in the airport, the air felt more breathable—though of course much thinner—as we made our way to the exit. Both of our bags getting spat out of the baggage carrousel was another moment full of relief as we hauled everything out to the curb. When Tracy’s parents pulled up to the arrivals area to pick us up, I knew in that moment that while there was still so much up in the air, we were at that moment right where we needed to be. Some time at home would definitely do us some good!