by Bill Chapman
After much bullish expectancy our Realtor emailed us the signed Notice of Fulfillment of Condition which inextricably bound the Party of the First Part and the Party of the Second Part. We had sold our house and had now to prepare to move. The accomplishment of this important contractual measure immediately set in motion a parade of undertakings which we began to complete as early as 2:30 a.m. the next morning when our preoccupation with what was to come got the better of us and overcame all other matters of interest including our need to sleep. It was an inertia we weren’t soon to inhibit.
Almost in a trance I began the now predestined trek towards tenancy (our considered and chosen alternative to home ownership) by descending to the basement to examine the ten 4-drawer cabinets in which I had stored my dormant business dossiers for the past thirty-eight years. The army-green cabinets were ugly and neglected, an impersonal bank of obstinate steel. The forbidding task of culling or disposing of them had been a constant prick to my conscience and one I had succeeded in avoiding through wilful ignorance for longer than I care to admit. I always knew that its confrontation was inevitable (though I admit I had wickedly contemplated that it might one day fall to my estate administrator to deal with it). The inescapable moment was however at hand and I hadn’t any further privilege to ignore or delegate the chore. When choreographing an assignment it is my tactical preference always to address the weakest link in the chain. These relics more than any other article of our personal possessions pressed to be dealt with if we were to accomplish our move. I waded in upon the task with the diligence of a heavenly virtue. It was therefore with pleasant astonishment that I found the task less burdensome than I had anticipated. My deliberation and uninterrupted determination in the small hours of the morning had usefully promoted my assiduity. Likely I was overly cavalier in my review of the dusty files but after pertinacious application I adopted the conviction that there was little among them worth preserving. By and large the files were those which related to almost archaic real estate sales and estate administrations neither of which is common cause for subsequent revisitation at least with respect to matters of professional liability. Even if there were the odd file which contained some current real estate information it is certain that the Land Registrar had an original or elecronic copy on record. In the result I made the decision to shred the lot.
Apart from adding the on-site shredding company to my list of agencies to call, others included our Landlord, the movers, the insurers, the auctioneer, the rug cleaner, the snowplough man and the housekeeper. When the Landlord agreed to provide us the apartment keys in advance of our scheduled date of possession that gesture in turn triggered an avalanche of “bring forwards” to arrange the attendance of several others to get their own mechanisms in gear, among them the utility offices (hydro, telephone, cable and internet), the computer technician, the furniture restoration people and the drapery people.
Before the movers arrived to pack and before they came to remove and unpack our possessions, we succumbed to the advice of the movers and others that anything we could do to remove things in advance would be to our advantage. This initiated the first of what was to be an endless series of decisions. There is simply no “ block” manner in which to decide upon what to keep, what to take, what to sell, what to give away or what to set aside for later consideration. Everything requires discussion and further deliberation and of course there are always unanticipated ramifications and alterations. We enlisted our handyman for assistance and naturally succeeded in putting out our backs in the process. It would have been better to have left the work to the movers!
When moving day at last arrived and the bulk of things had been delivered to the apartment I stood transfixed among the array of cardboard boxes, rolled carpets and slanted picture frames and found myself muttering to the movers that they would have to come back the following day to return to the house half of what they had transported to the apartment. In our enthusiasm to keep as much as possible of our prized possessions we had seriously miscalculated the set-up of the much smaller apartment. The resulting surgery was unforgiving as it had to be. We partly relieved the pressure by enlisting some of our closer friends to purchase certain items which we considered especially favourable opportunities. The wheels of commerce were usefully greased by reciprocal friendship including on our part the sentiment to be generous to the people who had been good to us over the years.
What remained of our possessions was to be disposed of by auction. In fact I think I am mistaken to call it an auction as I believe it was more along the lines of a silent auction in that prospective buyers post the price they are willing to pay and it resolves in a contest of applicants. Whatever the process, when it was all over the auctioneer called to invite us to “inspect the house” (the scene of the crime). Once there we saw nothing but the empty walls of the house and a clean garage floor. Everything was gone. I later heard about one young buyer who bought my former chess set which I understand he secured for the princely sum of five dollars (though his opening bid may have been as low as 50 cents). I suspect that particular transaction was illustrative of the sale generally. No matter, I have already forgotten what was included in the sale (even though one bystander sympathetically – but mistakenly – commented that it must have pained us to part with such treasures). Our much reduced material possessions now at least qualify as our dearest.
The machinery of the move started up once again as we unpacked everything and experimented with the exact place for each article. It took us an entire day to mount the paintings on the walls. The empty boxes and packing paper were at last removed for recycling. We slowly adjusted to apartment dwelling, the need to deal with back stairs, elevators and subterranean parking. But when it was all done we were well pleased! The forced distillation of our material world had resulted in a most favourable nectar. We were also thankful for one important detail; namely, that a 7-foot bookcase expropriated from my former law office fit within millimetres of its intended landing place (a project which hadn’t been assured until the very last moment, much to the delight of the movers who were obliged to carry the solid oak object up three flights when it wouldn’t fit into the elevator).