River is a regular commentor here on the blog but does not have a blog of her own. When I knew I’d be moving I sat down and thought – who would I like to guest post on the blog? River was one of the first people I thought of. :) Please take a moment to show River some comment love – she shows us plenty on a regular basis but we usually can’t return it so now is your chance!
My first husband was in the Army. Between 1972 and 1986 we moved house 6 times. You’d think it would be hard, but no, the Army made it all sooo easy. K. would come home and announce he had been posted to a new area. The very next day he would go off to work and I would start cleaning walls and doors.
A few days later the inventory pages would arrive. That’s right- pages, plural. 11 of them. EVERY SINGLE THING WE OWNED had to be listed along with the condition and approximate value. This is where I discovered that we owned 2 dozen unused wine glasses and 500 books. Furniture items had to be closely examined and every nick , dent and stain written in the available space. Then there were the personal items, clothes, toys etc. Here we had to estimate how many boxes we would need to pack all these into. So I went merrily about the house, spending about ½ a day per room, listing everything.
At the end I thought I had done a pretty good job and walked around patting myself on the back. Until K. pointed out that several of the items listed to go in the truck were items that we needed to take with us in the car. The pram, the highchair, the 4 dozen nappies. I crossed them off the inventory. The pages were submitted and a moving date was set.
The day before the move the packers arrived. Yes, packers. 4 hefty looking women who packed up Army families for a living. I watched, astounded, as they packed up my entire house in mountains of paper and stuffed everything into large sturdy cardboard cartons, in LESS than ½ a day!!. I didn’t have to do a thing except make cups of tea for them.
We spent the night in a cheap motel, paid for by the Army. This was part of the moving process. A cost was estimated on number of family members, to be used for motel accomodation and meals also an allowance for petrol. Early next morning the truck arrived, loaded up and vanished. We drove to Sydney from Brisbane. Although, since I never learnt to drive it was up to K. to get us there safely.
We arrived in Sydney 2 days later and spent a week in a motel. K. went off to work every morning and I was left alone in a city I didn’t know, with 2 babies, minimal clothes and toys and hour of daylight to get through. We managed to have fun anyway although I can’t remember now what we did.
Then we learned a house in the suburbs had been assigned to us, all the way out in Glenfield, past Liverpool. K. was working at the Watson’s Bay base. Hours and hours of travelling for him, leaving at the crack of dawn and getting home in time to kiss the babies goodnight. So we settled in. another baby came along and No.1 child started school.
Then K. came home one day and announced he had accepted a posting to a new area. And the whole process was begun again. Only this time the inventory list was easier. I’d kept a copy of the previous one and only had to transfer stuff we still had, add new things acquired, and omit stuff we had gotten rid of. Simple, really.
The process was repeated several times in the next few years as we moved from Sydney to Melbourne, back to Sydney, back again to Melbourne etc. Eventually we settled in Adelaide where K’s military career came to an end. After so many years in such a structured lifestyle, “free” life was so much different and many adjustments needed to be made.
Looking back on those years now, I’m surprised at how well the children handled it. Every couple of years they were uprooted, leaving friends, changing schools, making new friends, and they did it all (mostly) cheerfully, with few complaints and in later moves even packing and unpacking their own personal items alongside the professional packers. They thought it was fun to live in a motel for a week or so at a time while waiting for a house to be assigned.
They watched a lot of tv it’s true, but they also saw a lot of different areas and made many friends, some of whom my oldest keeps in touch with even now. I’m still in Adelaide now, the chidren are grown and gone from home, K. and I divorced years ago. All in all, it was a happy life, that’s just the way things were, getting on with it seemed the best thing to do. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Thanks for allowing me to post this, River. I am very grateful you agreed to guest post because I wanted to know more about you and I know I’m not the only one. ;) What a wonderful guest post showing a different kind of life in this broad brown land we call Australia.
I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on the state of the packing which is going very well, even though I don’t have the burly army ladies to help! Of course on Sunday there’s the weekly wrap up.