Today I hired a cab to transport an old Billy shelf, plants and my big red chair from my mum’s place home. I planned it badly, though, for the middle of the afternoon, when Gergö is at work. He started his new job on September 3 and will work from home. For the time being, he works at the office. His desk and chair are assembled now, but he is still waiting for his work laptop to show up, so he is using a desktop machine at the office.
I figured I only need to take out the shelves and carry the empty corpus (that’s what Ikea calls it) to the elevator with my mum. Turns it was about 1 cm too high to fit into the elevator. I really really didn’t want to carry a Billy down four flights of stairs with my mum. And the cab I’d hired explicitly said they only do transports from sidewalk to sidewalk, so I resigned myself to not being able to get this done today.
I had forgotten about the casual sexism of men used to doing heavy lifting. They showed up on time, wouldn’t let me load the car and when I said that the Billy didn’t fit into the elevator one of the guys carried it downstairs alone. I’m a feminist, but I will let strong men unload heavy things from the car and carry them much further than contractually agreed upon.
I paid them and even gave a big tip. The joke’s on me though, because I sent them away saying that I can get the shelf out of the lift and the 2 metres to my front door alone. I couldn’t. Not because it was too heavy, but because the wall on the 5th floor is lower than on the ground floor and blocks me from getting the shelf out from the elevator. I ended up taking it out on the 4th floor and sticking a note on it saying “Sorry, I will carry this upstairs later”.
I got lucky in most other aspects of the transport, though – the casual racism was minor and I managed to change the topic quickly and hear about the cab drivers side business as vegan pastry chef instead. And it only started pouring down once I had everything safely inside the apartment (or well, on the 4th floor of the building).
The last two weeks were exhausting. I knew that I hated moving apartments. After all, I’ve done it four times in three years. But I had, as usual, underestimated the amount of work that goes into filling an apartment with furniture. When we left Vienna three years ago we didn’t take any furniture with us. We sold, threw away, gifted and donated all of our furniture and most of our other belongings. And the last three apartments (Palaiseau, Paris Bercy, Paris Clignancourt) were furnished.
We still managed to accumulate a lot of things while living in France. We asked three moving companies how much it would cost to transport our stuff to Austria. The estimates were 2 000 € upwards, so we decided to move by post. One package of up to 30 kilos cost 59 €. Gergö estimated that we would need 10 boxes, I thought 3. We donated a lot of household things to Emmaüs (it’s a lot like Caritas).
We posted 7 boxes of clothes, personal belongings, favourite mugs and documents to Austria. The 6th one I called box of shame, because frankly, it consisted mainly of things I should have let go of but couldn’t. The 7th box consisted of things I had forgotten about. If it had been a word document I’d have called it “box_last_last_final_2.docx”.
We took it to the post office on Wednesday, our very last day in Paris. I was nervous about returning the apartment because our landlords were extremely thorough when we moved in. They basically counted every tea spoon and pillow case. So I reckoned that would happen again. Instead they did a cursory tour of the apartment, offered to write a cheque for the deposit but agreed to do a transfer instead. 30 minutes later we were in a cab on our way to the airport. Way too early, but there really wasn’t anything left to do in Paris.
I said something like “I was nervous, but I think I handled that pretty well. I didn’t freak out and I didn’t even cry once.” Gergö said he thought that I was indeed calm, but he thought that I was catatonic, sitting on the sofa, reading on my phone. And I was trying very hard to distract myself with funny gifs and uplifting buzzfeed listicles on home improvement. I even mostly stopped reading my twitter feed for the last two weeks in Paris because I felt I couldn’t handle any more terrible news from all over the world.
We arrived in Vienna fairly late. My dad picked us up and had an inflatable mattress, blankets and pillows borrowed from my sister and my mum in his trunk. We spent our first night on the inflatable mattress in an otherwise empty apartment.
Our fancy new mattress was delivered on the first day. The delivery people brought them up and put them on the floor of the living room. I asked if I needed to sign anything. “One second, there’s more”, they said and brought in two large boxes. I was surprised because I hadn’t ordered anything else. But I signed the papers, they left and I lifted the boxes. They were very light. I opened them and they were empty. There was absolutely nothing in it. I have no idea who messed up and how, but for some reason our mattress delivery came with two boxes of air.
The first two days we spent without anything to sit on, except a hand crocheted carpet I had insisted on bringing. My sister and my mum brought over the triplets for a picknick on the carpet and jumping on the inflatable mattress. Since then we have been to Ikea twice and had a large delivery by them as well. The apartment has filled up with Ikea flatpacks, empty cartons, assembled furniture and the detritus that comes with all of this. I borrowed my sister’s orange cart (the one that fits three sitting three year olds) to bring a cartload of carton and plastic to the Mistplatz (the place you take the recycling that’s too big for the bins or for which there are no bins).
We are slowly getting there…