All our stuff in 5 square feet

I always forget how hard moving is, even though I’ve recorded my past travails in great detail. Perhaps forgetting is a survival skill, because if I ever truly anticipated the full physical, emotional, and mental effort involved, I’d never move again!

This time was no exception, even considering a massive furniture sell-off and a full week to pack and prepare. The unusual thing was that we’re not really moving. We’re just storing our things while we make our way around the world. In order to do so, we reserved a 5×5′ climate controlled storage unit in Santa Rosa: climate controlled to protect our things from the heat and cold, in Santa Rosa for cost savings (cheaper than San Francisco) and proximity to friends we can stay with when we return.

The irony is that this “move” was the exact opposite of our move from Santa Rosa to San Francisco, which meant that in addition to packing everything up, we also had to factor in an hour-plus drive each way to deposit our stuff. We planned to rent a U-Haul van or truck on Friday to do everything in one fell swoop, but we waited too long to reserve one. No vans were available, and all the big trucks cost $1.05-$1.49/mile, so we were looking at around $150-200 just to make the trip and come back. Factor in the hassle of picking up the van and dropping it off during their business hours, and we made the snap decision to rent a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck from Zipcar. The theory was that we could bring all our stuff up in two trips on Friday, renting it from 10am to 10am the next day (for $100), have dinner with friends in Santa Rosa on Friday night, drive back to the city, and use the early morning hours to drop things off at Goodwill. What were we thinking?!

One factor out of our control was traffic. There was a surprising amount of it getting to Santa Rosa on Friday, and a surprising amount on the way back. We thought we’d be back in the city to make our second run around 2pm, but instead we got back around 4pm. Another issue was that we were concurrently trying to sell our couch. We had been in communication with a promising candidate on the way back to the city, but when they came over to our place to check it out, they ended up not wanting it!!!

Zipcar pickup truck packed with 30 boxes of our stuff
Zipcar pickup packed with 30 boxes of our stuff

The first run included thirty 16x12x12″ boxes of all our packable things, and the second run included all the shelves and small furniture we were holding on to. All the odd-shaped stuff. And we still had a lot of work to do to prepare it all. So we spent two hours (until 7pm) prepping things (conveniently I was able to park the pickup truck directly in front of our apartment when the carpool lane ended at 6), and then it took another hour and a half to bring everything down and arrange it in the truck.

Somehow, amazingly, it all fit, but we were heading out of the city at 8:30pm, and the storage place closed at 10pm sharp. We weren’t going to get there until 9:30pm if we were lucky, and we didn’t want to get locked into the compound after it closed (they warned us). We had to change plans en route. Stephanie called our friends Adam and Eveline in Santa Rosa (who were planning on taking custody of the cheese cave/wine fridge) and asked if we could spend the night, our truck parked out front, furniture covered by a tarp. They said bien sur.

Just before we reached the exit for the storage place, the clock read 9:30. Even though we probably couldn’t get all our stuff up and arranged in 30 minutes, I figured at least we could unload something. At that point Stephanie was hanging on by a thread (energy-wise), and I didn’t want to push it. But I saw a glimmer in her eyes, she said, “Yes, as long as we’re back in the car at 9:50”. So I took the exit and we sprung into action. The unit was on the third floor, right near a giant elevator, and they had a platform hand truck available. We loaded it up with as much furniture as we could, brought it up, and then came back down for one more load. We almost emptied the truck, aside from all our shelving, and the backseat full of frames and artwork.

From there we dropped off some things at Kat and Eric’s house, and then made our way over to Adam and Eveline’s. It was around 10:30pm when we finally got there. We’d been up and moving since 7 in the morning, so it was nice to finally sit down, sip some peppermint tea, and chat before heading off to bed.

As the sound of their meowing cats started to rouse us Saturday morning, I realized I’d forgotten to extend the Zipcar reservation past 10am! I grabbed Stephanie’s iPhone to tack on a few extra hours, only to discover it couldn’t be extended. Someone had rented it immediately after us. We had to be back in San Francisco by 10am! That meant we had to leave the storage place in Santa Rosa around 8:30am to safely make it back on time. It was 7:30. Ugh. We had an hour to get to the storage place, unload the rest of our stuff, and complete the puzzle that was fitting everything into a 5×5′ space (without knowing in advance whether everything would fit!). We said our good mornings, hugged everyone, including little Zacharie who had woken up to find two strangers in his house, grabbed two croissants fresh out of the oven, and raced off to the storage unit. It would have been a lot harder to make it happen had we not spent 20 minutes unloading the night before. Incredibly everything fit together, packed right up to the door, without any usable floor space to spare. We were on the road by 8:30, and made it to the parking garage in San Francisco with 15 minutes to spare.

Our 5x5' storage unit all filled up
Our 5×5′ storage unit

Which left us with one final mission to complete: sell a sofa and armchair set on Craigslist in a single day!

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