Moved to Denver

, I packed most of my worldly possessions into a truck and drove a thousand miles across the country with my girlfriend to set up a new place to call "home".

Even considering the *ahem* challenges of compressing two apartments' worth of stuff into a single moving truck, the work of moving turned out to be pretty straightforward if not lengthier and more exhausting than anticipated. The exhaustion was equal parts physical and emotional – shuttling furniture and boxes to the truck for hours, summoning every ounce of Tetris mastery in my being to fit it in, making last-minute decisions of what could be considered expendable; saying goodbye to friends I'll only see on Facebook from now on, holding back tears while hugging my parents, getting into the truck and driving away.

But onwards we went, and eventually we made it through and arrived in Denver.

The process of setting up a new life is actually pretty tedious. There are emissions tests to be conducted. Vehicle registrations to transfer. Drivers licenses to acquire. Utilities to set up. Utilities to call support about when the internet doesn't work. Utilities to call support about again when the internet still doesn't work, and apparently requires a visit from a technician to resolve.

There's the inevitable trip to IKEA when you realize your new apartment has almost zero built-in storage and you now have nowhere to put any of your stuff that's just sitting around in boxes. The moment of sad realization at the register when you see how much you're spending. The mundane trips to grocery stores to stock your empty refrigerator. The constant re-arrangement of drawers and cabinets.

Now you have a new address, so you have to update every website you've ever given your billing and shipping addresses. The IRS wants to know you moved. The USPS wants to know you moved.

And then at some point... you look around and realize you're home. This is home now. There's art on the walls, and lamps in the corners, and fewer and fewer cardboard boxes sitting around making you feel guilty.

So here we are. It's been a fairly draining couple of weeks, but now we're all settled in. The weather has been gorgeous – warm and sunny, with the exception of a freak snowstorm on Mother's Day (70°F and sunny on Saturday, six inches of snow on Sunday, with Monday warm enough you could hardly tell it snowed at all). The scenery in Colorado is nothing short of beautiful, with plenty of hiking trails and open spaces for both us and our dog to explore to exhaustion. Even my car gets better fuel economy here.

I think we'll be okay.

In other news, I am now the Web Content Administrator for AORN, a non-profit organization in Denver, a position I'm especially excited to take on. After spending six years in a large corporation, as great as the people and experiences there were, I really wanted to find someplace smaller where each person could make a real difference. It'll also be particularly refreshing to have an income again, so there's that.


Moving to Denver

In two weeks, I'll be packing all my worldly possessions into a truck and driving across the country, a thousand miles from the only place I've ever really called home.

I've lived in Milwaukee pretty much my entire life. With the exception of my time away at college, this city has been home. And even then, Milwaukee was still home in a way that the cinderblock dorms and cramped off-campus housing never was. I grew up here, made friends here, have friends here. But it's time to move on.

When my last job ended, I knew it was an opportunity that would probably not present itself again for a while. I have no real estate to sell off, no children to pull out of schools, no real concrete reasons not to pack up and go try something new somewhere else.

So we're moving to Denver. My girlfriend Sarah and I are packing up everything we own and moving from a great city on the coast of a beautiful lake to a great city at the base of a gorgeous mountain range.

Why Denver?

Why not? It's beautiful in Denver. You can see mountains from just about anywhere. Seasons don't try to kill you. In Wisconsin, winter lasts nine months, during which the snow never melts and you forget how to be warm. Summer lasts maybe three months, during which the sun has a personal grudge against you and you forget what it's like not to sweat. Spring and Fall are myths.

We thought about a few other places. Portland is weird but has never seen the sun first-hand. San Francisco is amazing but has no concept of personal space. Denver has a great climate, tons of places to go hiking, and won't bankrupt us within days of arrival. And, perhaps more importantly for Sarah, it has tons of good breweries.

Sarah and I spent a week there earlier this year to figure out where to live, get a lease in place, and get our bearings for where we'll be spending our time. It turns out the housing market is insane, and the rental market specifically is worse.

We were originally hoping to find a nice two-bedroom rental house with a fenced yard for Sarah's — scratch that, I've been informed the correct pronoun is our — dog Tiki and maybe a garage. That dream quickly devolved into "let's just find somewhere we can be afford to be not-uncomfortable." We settled on a very nice apartment complex, which isn't quite what we had in mind but is nice enough and affordable enough to make do for a year while we find somewhere closer to our ideal.

The physical preparations

The physical side of this process has actually been remarkably easy, if somewhat tedious. You're forced to step back, really evaluate the things you own, and decide just how important your stuff truly is. You have to look at every possession and decide whether it's really worth it to pack it up, load it into a truck, unpack it on the other end of a long drive, and find somewhere to keep it. A lot of the time, the answer is "not worth it" and you find yourself making routine trips to Goodwill and finding friends and family willing to buy or just take the rest. (It helps when you know there's very limited storage space on the other end of the trip and can use that as a perfectly legitimate excuse for why you're trying to get rid of things.)

After months of preparations and waiting, it's down to the last two weeks, and now there's this need to be done with it, to get it all over with. Everything that can reasonably be packed has been packed. Everything that's left out either can't be packed (big bulky items like furniture or my vacuum cleaner) or is needed until right before the move (clothes, some kitchenware and the like). I keep looking around my apartment trying to find something that can be put away, yet finding nothing.

Every unsealed box is radiating a sense of incompleteness. Anxiety incarnate.

My spare bedroom is a study in ordered chaos. Mostly-full cardboard boxes and plastic storage bins sit on the floor and atop a desk along one wall. Empty boxes and packing materials lay along the opposite wall, waiting their turn to join their friends on the other side of the room. Boxes that were once taped shut are pulled open to give access to some item previously thought safe to pack away.

There's also the process of shutting down one life before starting a new one back up elsewhere. There are utility services to be cancelled, change of address forms to be filed, insurance policies to be transferred and apartment showings to conduct. The pantry and fridge need to be depleted. The chest freezer needs to be emptied and defrosted. A truck has to be rented. Each individual thing is easy enough, but it makes a formidable to-do list.

But at the end, it's all just stuff, so it's not so bad.

It's the not-so-physical part of the move that's difficult. But that's a subject for a later post.

Update: I moved to Denver!