We are now here in Wellington, New Zealand, after a lengthy journey and a lot of work to make it happen.
Again and again over the last few months, our friends and family have asked us whether we were getting excited about our move here. Oh, well, not quite yet, we had to answer, and so greatly disappointed them. Those who asked the question had the leisure to feel how wonderful such a change must be, but we were mostly preoccupied with the back end of the move – all the packing, selling and other preparations to leave one life and its belongings in order to begin another.
Goodbye to all that
In brief, here’s how we freed ourselves up. We’ll soon share more tips about simplifying and downsizing in other posts.
In the last few months, we had to:
1. Complete the digitizing of our photos/documents/videos etc. This required organizing and correcting it all, but now – 60 hours of video; 20,000 photos; and 1600 CDs later – all rest on a hard drive the size of a deck of cards as well as in the cloud. Extremely portable and accessible.
2. Eliminate and recycle what had not already been jettisoned – Most of our old documents and souvenirs and tschatchkes arrayed about the house had already been pared down to the most important or the most sentimental. But we had to finish the job by sorting through what we were still using.
The first sort was what we needed, really needed to take 10,000 miles away. The second sort was what we would store away, items we couldn’t yet bear to part with and would likely need or want some time in the future. Preparing and packing those things to be moved into storage proved surprisingly time-consuming.
That left, thirdly, what to donate or sell…and determining how to do it. A few specialty items went on ebay or were sold to local stores like a gold jeweler. Again and again we were reminded how worthless so many collectibles are these days. We offered our two cars through the local paper and several online sites. Piles of extra clothes and electronics went to Goodwill or churches. All the rest, hundreds of items large and small, constituted the estate sale that preoccupied us for the last couple of weeks prior to our departure.
What remained after all this work was a mahogany dining room and bedroom set, 31 boxes and a mountain bike, all fitted into a 10 foot by 10 foot storage bin. And, ready for travel, just 7 tightly stuffed pieces of checked luggage, each of which weighs between 50 and 51 pounds in order to avoid extra airline charges, plus two carry-ons and two backpacks. How satisfying to see your needs reduced to 400 pounds of luggage, but how little time to relish the reason for doing it all.
Are we there yet?
Getting on the plane should have been our first opportunity to feel excited, but it still wasn’t there. Perhaps air travel is just too arduous these days and certainly 26 long hours in cramped coach seating proves more a wearying experience. We couldn’t even get a bit of celebratory champagne during the trans-Pacific flight to launch our voyage suitably.
Even arriving in Auckland didn’t do the trick, for we were immediately caught up in another ordeal, loading and unloading our 50 pound bags precariously on two airport trolleys during the passage through customs, then moving these ourselves the half mile to the domestic terminal since the transfer system went out, “as usual,” one Kiwi said.
Exhausted from this long workout and lack of sleep, we dragged ourselves to the gate, with only a few minutes to spare. But that’s when the magic began. Sitting across an aisle from each other, we were each paired with an engaging and welcoming New Zealand couple. The couple with Barry was returning from three weeks in Oklahoma, since the husband was from there, and had met his Kiwi wife 8 years before as an exchange student. The couple with Nancy had been travelling in Europe and delighted to be going home. Both agreeably shared their favorite experiences in Wellington and environs – restaurants, treks, grocery stores – so we could enjoy them as well. And better yet, shared their good cheer.
Now we didn’t mind collecting our bags, piling them again on trolleys and handing them over to a shuttle van that hauled a large luggage trailer behind it. Driving to our new home, we noticed how the low lying winter sun made the hills and buildings gleam in the morning, the air cool but comfortable. And we didn’t mind the trouble of searching out our entrance at the end of a long driveway, pulling our nine bags, two-by-two, up the stairs and at last inside.
We peered around the spacious house, gasped delightedly at the vivid blue harbor and the Victorian homes that flowed down the hillside.
But it was really an hour later, revisiting an Irish pub we had enjoyed during our last visit here on the engaging pedestrian byway of Cuba Street –
when all the travel was complete, when a steaming lunch of cottage pie and seafood chowder sat before us attended by a draft of the local ale Monteith’s, when the warming sun belied the tales of chilly wet winter weather here – it was then we could truly say we were getting excited about our new lives, our new adventures.