Last Saturday, Time magazine book critic Lev Grossman informed his 1,300 some-odd Twitter followers: "Just moved house. Took 11 hours. Nobody should ever move. Everybody just stay where you are."
My heart went out to the man. Of all human endeavors, few are as tedious, as unpleasant, as garment-rendingly annoying as moving house. I can think of a few things I'd rather do less, but only a few. Like undergo surgery without anesthetic. Or be waterboarded. Or watch a running loop of John Cusack romantic comedies.
Organization books and self-help gurus will tell you the only thing standing between you and a flawless moving day experience is careful and deliberate planning. This is a lie. The laws that govern moving are as universal and unyielding as those of entropy or gravity or inertia. Do what you will, frail human, your plans will be dashed upon the merciless rocks of the Five Immutable Laws of Moving House.
1. The Law of Possession Diffusion
This law states that, regardless of how many boxes you have and how many items you have discarded while packing, the amount you have left to pack will expand to fill and exceed the storage containers available.
If you purchase 50 boxes, you'll find you actually need about 70. If you purchase 70, you'll find you're about 20 or so short. And so on.
One reason for this odd discrepancy between the amount of possessions you have and the amount you perceive yourself as having was described beautifully by E.B. White in "Goodbye to Forty-Eighth Street": "A home is like a reservoir equipped with a check valve: the valve permits influx but prevents outflow. Acquisition goes on night and day — smoothly, subtly, imperceptibly."
Imperceptible until you are required to put it into a box for transportation to another locale.
2. The Law of Transportation Insufficiency
In accordance with this law, it matters not how many or how large of a conveyance you manage to hire/borrow/blackmail out of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or casual acquaintances. It will, regardless of its size, be insufficient to transport the amount needed in one trip. Two trips will be required, minimum. Perhaps three. Or more.
This law has a corollary: Very few people share similar ideas as to how a moving van should be loaded. Regardless of who you badgered into loading your particular conveyance, each will hold diametrically opposed views as to where certain items should be placed. They will argue these views with a passion comparable to a Baptist minister on the final night of a revival in which no souls have been saved.