14 May 2009


In my last post, I referred to the van as a beast, and I after four solid days of driving it, I did not waver from this opinion. We encountered a bit of everything: mountains and rain tempests and hailstorms and border-crossing traffic, and I freaked out regularly (am I doing this right? is the engine supposed to sound like that? what gear am I supposed to be in? should I wait for him to move or try to squeeze into that spot? how will I get out of this space? what if something is behind me and I can't see it?). We learned that big huge vans, especially ones loaded with books and furniture, go pretty slowly, and that it takes sixteen instead of twelve hours to travel from Barcelona to Brussels or vice versa. But there were long stretches of smooth sailing, I learned to trust my sideview mirrors and find the clutch's sweet spot, and we had really good luck across the board.

First of all, the city driving went very well on both ends. And secondly, we were buoyed by the kindness of strangers and friends: the passer-by who parallel-parked the van for me in a tight spot (in front of our house!) in Brussels, the neighbor who carried furniture down the stairs with the Mister, the car rental agent who gave us a 35% discount, the neighbors who took other items off our hands for us, the Sicilians at our favorite neighborhood pizza place, the friend who cooked us dinner when we had no kitchen, the friend who gave us a ride when we didn't want to move the perfectly parked van, family who arranged for help when we arrived in Barcelona, and so on.

We sure did need help; those four days of driving were interposed with one and a half days of frantic packing and paperwork and carting of heavy objects up and down many flights of stairs. The good news is that the van is gone and the stuff is now in our apartment, even the sofa (we planned to sell it, but the buyer backed out and the van was so big that we could take it for its first road trip to Barcelona).

The bad news is that the stuff is now in our apartment.

As in, we now have two households worth of things crammed into our already-small space. This morning we did some major rearranging to accommodate piles of boxes and suitcases and furniture, none of which we have room for. I'm quite disheartened by the impossibility of it all, and the major projects we will have to tackle just to incorporate and/or sell or give away the stuff we didn't have time to deal with in Brussels. On our drive back, we solemnly vowed never to buy anything ever again.

But it feels really good to have one less household. For the first time all of our wedding gifts are in one place! My summer clothes and my winter clothes are in the same city! The two Murakami books that were in Brussels can sit on the shelf next to the two that were in Barcelona! All of our financial records can be merged! And so forth and so on. All thanks to the beast.


Astrid said...

Sounds incredibly familiar - the van/car rides. I don't know many trips we did between Milan and Toulon in 2006 and 2007 when we finally had our permanent house but it was nice giving up the garages we were renting to stack it all. It's incredible how much one can accumulate of things in a short space of time :)

Good luck in sorting it all out - I'm sure all the things will find their right spot in the end!

Ashley said...

Wow--that sounds pretty crazy. But I'm glad you've got all your stuff together in Barcelona! That's quite a feat!

Anonymous said...

i love the name of your blog :)