The end of October roared into our lives with a flurry of packing, selling and cab rides to goodwill.
As I write this now, I can not for the life of me remember what we gave to goodwill. So. Much. Stuff. Here we are on one of our many trips to goodwill:
We stripped our lives bare, right down to the essentials, and we still couldn’t fit it into the allotted six Rubbermaid bins. Finally we broke down and bought another bin.
Kat was the queen of packing, and our bins were a mastery of space economy. Socks stuffed into coffee mugs, underwear padding dinner plates, cds slipped into slivers of space between larger items. She was Mary Poppins with a magic carpet bag.
It would have been perfect if every one of those bins wasn’t over the Via Rail weight limit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Know how moving days just wring it right out of you? Well imagine a moving day that lasts for a week. Moving days are like weddings – full of family, friends, chaos, celebration and tears – the culmination of an enormous amount of effort.
Kat’s parents arrived at 10 am moving day. Despite all the last minute trips to goodwill, the crunch to get the rental truck picked up and packed, all went extremely well. I didn’t start feeling the first waves of panic until I was driving the rental truck past the exit we needed to get to the train station because, guess what, the road was closed for construction.
If you don’t live in Toronto let me tell you, driving in that city will take years off your life. If you miss your exit, guaranteed you’ve lost a half hour before you’re back on track. If roads are closed for construction, you could be driving in circles down one way streets and past no-left-turning signs for an hour or more. This is why Torontonians are so cranky – they’re always in a hurry and things beyond their control are always making them late.
Thank goodness we had help. We never would have made it on that train without Kat’s folks, and my dear friends Derek & Tessie, whom I’ve known since high school. As I drove past our closed exit, with the animals whining in the back, and knowing that Kat, her parents and Tessie were wedged dangerously and uncomfortably in the back with the bins and crying animals, it was Derek’s calm directions that got me through it. When we parked illegally outside of Union station and unloaded the bins and animals onto the sidewalk as pedestrians swarmed all around us, it was Kat’s calm mother who got us through that. Derek stayed in the truck to direct Kat’s father back to the rental depot to drop it off, Tessie and I shuttled loads from the sidewalk to the baggage check in deep in the belly of the station, and Kat started the process of checking in our bags.
When Tessie and I returned with our third dolly-load of bins, Kat met us with a grim expression. “We have a problem.”
All of the bins were overweight. If they’re oversize, you can pay extra, but if they’re overweight, none of the unionized employees of Via Rail is allowed to lift it, nor are we as civilians allowed to load our own baggage.
So we had to repack our bins in the middle of the busiest train station in the country. We bought two cardboard boxes from Via Rail to handle the overflow and Kat had to unpack the bins she’s spent the past week cramming to capacity. Plates, mugs, socks and underwear was scattered in front of the baggage station, other passengers had to step over the chaos to check their own bags.
Getting the bins below the weight limit while still cramming every possible item into them became a live action game show. The stakes were high; Kat and I had reached our baggage limit and if we couldn’t fit our stuff into the seven bins plus two cardboard boxes, we’d have to leave things behind. We’d already given up so much! We’d set bin on the scale and start pulling things out of it until it was below 70 lbs, and then we’d add a few items back to get it as close to 70 lbs as possible, all the while waiting Via Rail passengers watched us with intense interest. In one case, a single sock put the bin over, so we had to split up the pair. The audience held it’s breath as we packed the last box – would we go over? No! The final box weighed in at 68.5 lbs – SO CLOSE! This inspired cheers and laughter among our little group, and bemused smiles from our audience.
The cats in their giant vari kennels were loaded on to the train with the baggage, and the dogs stayed on leash with us as their crates were loaded on board. We said our goodbyes to our friends and family, and then, utterly done in, we boarded the train. Getting us on that train was really the work of six people. Between the six of us, we pulled it off.