The move: a photostory

Once upon a time, we lived in Leeds, in a rather boring suburban semi that I often dreamed of leaving for a more exciting location.

Little did I realise that my husband, M,

had interpreted ‘more exciting’ literally, rather than understanding that I meant ‘somewhere we can buy fresh croissants’ or, at most, ‘Saltaire’. And so it came to pass that we decided to move, emptied our bookshelves and cupboards, and put all our belongings into boxes.

Note the irony of the ‘fragile’ tape here.

On Monday morning, a man with a van who moved so fast I could not capture his image came to carry away most of our things to the Big Yellow Extortionate Storage facility.

Then only a few essentials remained.

But… what’s this?  All these address labels on the boxes say they’re going to Evanston, Illinois!  We’re moving to the Chicago suburbs!

So… I guess we’ll have to sell our beloved car, the one mentioned in my wedding speech in which M saved me from the Graduate Centre basement back when we were just good friends…

… and men from DHL in no fewer than 2 vans and after at least 6 phonecalls from the man I like to call roving Pete will have to come and take our boxes away for shipping on Tuesday.

And we will spend a final night on our bedroom floor before packing our sheets into our cases and ditching everything else.

It all feels very very empty.

At 6.45 on Wednesday, off we go to Leeds station with two rucksacks and two suitcases, one of which contains another suitcase, a printer, a few kitchen things and some books, and proves to be far too heavy to be allowed on the plane.

Luckily my mum is waving us off at Manchester airport and takes 3 kilos of books out of it to post to us later.

We fly to Chicago via Dublin, first on this little plane.

This route proves to be a mistake.  Our transfer is only an hour; the flight from Manchester is late; Dublin airport is unexpectedly huge and to transfer you have to walk all the way through baggage reclaim and up a poky back corridor; security involves the full taking off belts, unpacking laptops, putting your moisturiser in a little plastic bag faff that we’ve already done at Manchester… and then, when we think we’re making the flight with 10 minutes to spare, we learn a horrifying fact.

US customs and immigration have a post in Dublin where they pre-clear all passengers.

So while our flight waits and everyone on the plane develops a murderous hatred for us, we incompetently speed-fill several forms, the immigration guy discovers that London have issued our J-visas wrong and makes a series of fruitless phonecalls, then (as we later discover) staples our I-94s to the wrong passports, and there are recriminations all round between immigration, Aer Lingus and Dublin airport staff about our flight leaving late.

Still, we sort out the stapling at the other end, and what else could go wrong?

Oh, yeah… the luggage.  Lost.

But it’s still only mid-afternoon in America (though late evening to our travelling bodies) and we hop on the shuttle to Evanston, where we check into the Margarita European Inn for 3 nights…

… go out and buy a change of clothes and some toiletries, checking out the local wildlife on the front lawn on the way…

… and even make it over to Lake Michigan on our pre-dinner stroll.

But where are those damn bags?  They don’t show up until Friday morning, by which time our laptops are nearly out of power (the converter plug was in the suitcase), so are our mobiles (chargers, ditto), and we’re embroiled in a complex exchange of emails with DHL America about the boxes containing the rest of our belongings.  They need some customs forms that DHL UK told us weren’t necessary, and it takes until Monday to resolve it all.

Meanwhile, we go and check out our new apartment, on the edge of campus in a block for new, relocating faculty members.

We buy a futon in a local shop and bring it to the apartment by taxi.

And then the luggage arrives, with many tags from its adventures.

We drop it off at the apartment and head over to IKEA, in Schaumburg, many many miles away.  There we spend so much money on sofa, bed, dining table, chairs, chest of drawers, lights and bedding that First Direct helpfully stops my debit card.  But not my credit card – ha!

We hand over the furniture for delivery and come back home with just two blue bags.

Next day, two Mexican guys with a far more stoical attitude to lifting than the DHL men deliver the flatpacks.

(M appears to be resting here in anticipation of doing most of the furniture assembly on his own, while I play around on the internet checking out prices for TVs.)

And on Tuesday, joy of joys!  The boxes arrive.

However, the DHL man’s merry tossing around of the fragile boxes does not bode well, and sure enough 7 bowls, 5 glasses and a pottery jug are broken.

And who knows if the electronics will still work?

Anyway, at least now we can unpack…

… eat dinner at our new dining table…

(if I stop writing my blog on it, that is)

and go to sleep in our newly assembled bed.


About scepticalexpat

British 30something wannabe academic, moving to Chicago for three years in August 2010.
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2 Responses to The move: a photostory

  1. jane says:


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