Community Columns

Moving tests endurance and sanity (I flunked the latter)

Whether you attribute it to Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin, one of these brilliant guys once said that insanity is doing the same thing again and again, yet expecting different results.

Well, reserve my rubber room, tailor me that wrap- around canvas jacket, and give me some crayons so I can send letters home, writing with my toes.

I've moved five times in the past 10 years, all in high summer (no, wise guys, not by popular request), and the past four moves were within Stanislaus County. It seemed like a good idea based on the market and the upgrades in our ideal housing footprint. It just wasn't a good idea for the season.

Anyone who's done this feels my pain. You spend half your time praying the move isn't gonna kill you, and the rest of the time having second thoughts. "Please, Supreme Being, just make it quick, 'cause this is torture."

If heat exhaustion doesn't get you, the stress and confusion will. You had no idea you'd accumulated that much stuff in such a short period. You come across objects and appliances having no idea where they came from or what they're for. Impatience and frustration strains relationships with your moving partners, which is nobody's idea of fun, and you're so whipped at the end of the day you can't eat, much less cook.

As if this weren't bad enough, you're so bruised, gouged and generally banged up that concerned friends suspect you're either being systematically abused, or worse, afflicted with an advanced case of subcutaneous leprosy.

The move this time was mostly about the dogs' needs, and they think it's great. But just to make things more interesting (or my life a living hell), after they'd moved to the new place and I continued to work at the old, two stray dogs, on subsequent days, traipsed right into my living room, intent on sticking around.

The same animal control officer showed up both times. He was kind to the dogs but looked at me oddly, saying, "Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?"

What could I say? See you tomorrow? It's my karma.

The old neighbors are sorry to see us go. I have proof: None of them offered to help us move out. That's how sorry they are. (Wait, that didn't come out right. They're good friends to have.)

The new neighbors have been as welcoming and helpful as you could ask for. One had his back yard flooded by broken pipes on our pool pump, and offered help rather than verbal abuse, which is extraordinary. Another parked our motor home in a space I would have thought impossible.

That's exactly why, if I have to move again (heaven forbid), I'll do it here in the valley -- the gateway to Yosemite -- where the greatest neighbors abide. Meanwhile, there are boxes too heavy to lift waiting to bruise and gouge some more.

I'm ready when you are, Mr. Almighty.

Wolford is a Modesto resident. E-mail her at