Beware of these words: "There's just a few things left at the house. It'll only take like an hour or so to get it all. Then we'll be done."
Five torturous hours later, you will be ready to pay your brother-in-law to start an accidental fire, to walk away and leave the contents of your hall closet to an uncertain fate, to curse God and die.
In my experience, the final 10% of items in a house cause more anguish than the other 90%, hands down. The trouble is, that 10% always seems to be stuff you actually really want to keep.
5. The Law of the Astoundingly Dirty House
If X equals the amount of time you think it will take to clean your old residence, and Y equals the amount of time that it actually takes, the Moving House Cleaning Equation would look like this:
Y = 3X
It's astonishing how dirty houses get. Even if you are scrupulous about being as tidy and spotless as possible, you really get a look at what a filthy creature you are when the furniture is gone and you are standing alone in your newly naked Old Home. Where the couch once stood are huge, anemic patches, blinking in the bright light of day, about five shades lighter than the surrounding carpet. The shower doors look like they have been through a hurricane. You peek in the oven and wonder if someone broke in overnight and poured all that black stuff everywhere.
Now is the time to determine if Y is equal to or greater than a) the amount of money you will lose for the deposit, or b) the amount your pride will suffer if you simply walk off and let the new owners deal with your past filth. Like practically everyone else does.
This last time I moved, I mishandled everything that could conceivably have been mishandled, except for one thing. Instead of ordering insufficient amounts of pricey pizza to feed the ravenous beasts transporting my worldly goods, I made a tremendous pot of beef stew. There is something about beef stew — particularly when coupled with large amounts of garlic bread — that nourishes the soul like nothing else. It isn't fancy, but it reeks of homeyness. Which is just the thing you want when moving into a strange new abode. (Particularly if you have a sister who points out, when you repeatedly try to walk into a wall, thinking the hall goes to the left instead of the right, that you may have just moved into the House of Leaves. "Be sure," she helpfully advised, "to take a ball of string with you if a corridor opens up there." Thanks for that, Victoria. And for the first sleepless night in my new house.)