I enter the new apartment and look around. Not bad at all. Two rooms with an ocean view, a kitchen with abundant counter space, and a queen size bed. Then I look down and notice dirty footprints on the kitchen floor. The wooden floor is dusty too, and the porch seems to have absorbed the remaining dirt from the rest of the apartment. Today was supposed to be a simple move. Spring cleaning just got added to the list.
Last weekend I moved into my new apartment. For over a year, Alex and I had watched the building gradually rise from its foundations, and now we were able to claim it as ours. My first move in China was fairly easy. Some of my friends had already cleaned the place for me, and my roommate had settled in himself. So once I had unpacked my luggage and found a suitable bed, I was essentially moved in.
This move was different. I was the first to go for the teachers. At 8am, students knocked on my door, and I directed them to my stuff, 16 pieces of luggage. I wouldn’t call myself a packrat, but I had accumulated more than I thought in 3 years. They hauled my stuff into a small van, and I followed them to the new building. Once we arrived, we unloaded everything into the elevator, got off at the 13th floor, and piled it in my room. Their job was done. Mine had just begun.
What to do first – unpack or clean. I felt like sleeping, except that my bed was smothered by boxes. I started cleaning. For some reason, there were several concrete blobs on my kitchen floor. They had to go. After some chipping and hammering, they were gone. On to the dusting. Most of the cupboards had wood shavings, and the counters were generously covered in dust too. After dusting, I wiped down everything, swept the floor, and then squeegeed it. Kitchen – done. Living room, bedroom, porches, bathroom – TBD.
I tried to systematically clean the apartment to maintain some sanity. Basically, I divided the rooms into sections, thoroughly cleaned one part, them moved to the next section. Finally I made it through all the rooms except for one, the bathroom. Some one had flung dirt at the mirror, glued on top of the sink, and walked around in dirty boots with sheer impudence. The construction workers must have been bored at this point. I wish I were too.
I didn’t have much trouble cleaning the mirror or rubbing glue off the sink, but the floor was a stubborn one. Most of the dirt came off, but there were still concrete specks all over the tiles. I felt it wouldn’t be wise to begin hammering again. So I grabbed some steel wool and scrubbed like a madman. Eventually the specks disappeared, and I think some of the tile floor did too. But what really mattered was the bathroom was clean.
Step 2 – Moving. After the cleaning frenzy, I felt somewhat frazzled, but not utterly exhausted yet. Time to unpack my stuff. The new apartment certainly had a better view and nicer furniture than the old one, but it lacked sufficient storage space. Here I had one closet instead of 4, one desk instead of 2, and 1 kitchen instead of no kitchen. I was going to have to get creative.
Most of my clothes fit in the closet, but my briefs and socks were relegated to the kitchen drawers. All electronic items also found a home in the kitchen. I thought I had too many books. But if you stack them on top of each other, there is plenty of room. I shoved most of the luggage under the bed, but the chunky roller suitcases had to be sent to the porch. Altogether, not as bad as I thought. Although I wasn’t sure if I’d remember where everything was.
Once everything was unpacked, I felt like a 100-pound weight had been lifted from my back. I felt like singing or shouting gleefully. But then I remembered my neighbors and inwardly cheered myself for finishing the move. It may have been a tiring one, but it was a necessary change. Now I had a kitchen drain that would catch the food. I never had to shower over a squatty potty again. And I could see every bristly hair follicle when I shaved (It’s amazing what proper lighting can do). The move had its joys and sorrows, and now it was over. This time I’m staying put.