From Thanksgiving 2018 through summer 2019, 10 of my family members, representing seven different households, will have moved. Our great family migration includes people in three different generations, starting from four different states. Some people moved from the East Coast to the West Coast. Some moved within their state and others moved several states away. Some are down-sizing, some are combining households and some are moving up. The moves included selling homes, buying homes, building homes, renting apartments and sub-letting apartments. It is just a curious coincidence that the moves all happened so close together and it has made for some interesting logistics challenges.

When all the moves are complete, many people will live in homes that contain someone else’s furniture, because there was a lot of trading. The family and a revolving team of professionals moved big furniture and car-loads of the smaller stuff into and out of each other’s homes as we decided what we needed, wanted or could no longer fit, while perusing our own household inventory and that of family members in the same position. Often, we helped those who lived in point A, whose stuff was temporarily located in point B and who were moving to point C, make arrangements to pack and label everything.

A TV stand in a master bedroom became a coffee cart in someone else’s kitchen. A forgotten basement sectional gets top billing in someone else’s new apartment. A kitchen table moves coast to coast. Lamps, nightstands, framed art, knick knacks and kitchen supplies move across country in moving trucks and in the back of hatchbacks, awaiting their new life. Basements, attics and garages serves as temporary stops for each other’s belongings as we juggle whose house is on the market, whose lease is up, whose new home is still being built, and who would put grandpa’s cappuccino maker to the best use. (It’s going to Seattle.) We also found perfect new spots for my uncle’s painting of my grandmother (both now deceased) and for the beautiful ornate vase another uncle found literally buried in rubble while fighting World War II in Europe.

Throughout, we gained new appreciation for the art and science of moving big heavy stuff up and down stairs, down hallways and around corners we thought they’d get stuck in. While plenty of family members who did plenty of the heavy lifting were women, all the professionals were men. Some Big. Some small. Some young. Some not-so-young. We hired some ourselves. Others were sent by employers who were paying for family members to move. There were countless texts, calls and emails reminding each other when each of our movers were showing up at each of our houses, and to confirm which of us were claiming which items. We also sent each other videos to show progress on a move, when the owner of the stuff being moved couldn’t be on site themselves. We used FaceTime to ask each other, “Do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want those?” and to allow movers to assess the stuff they’d be hauling, when they couldn’t be on site either.

Sometimes I pictured this whole episode as a great tornado scooping up the contents of several households, swirling them overhead in a great Wizard-of-Oz-esque moment, before dropping everything neatly in its new place. The reality involved a lot more boxes, a lot more rolls of tape and a lot more of that nifty clear stretch filmy stuff that movers know as stretch-wrap. Although we still have several moves to go, we are already enjoying seeing each other’s homes to visit each other but also to admire the new look of all that old stuff.

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