Friday, June 21, 2013

Leaving Normal Life - Moving from a 2500 Square Foot Apartment to a 12x10 Train Car

In my prior life, I lived in a very nice apartment that was the top two floors of a hundred year old mansion that had been torn to the studs and completely redone in the early 70's (and yes, it looked every bit like I lived in what you imagine a porn set from 1975 looked like).  The great thing was that my bedroom had a ton of closets, space for a California King bed (actually space for two) and my own bathroom that was larger than the average walk in closet.  It was a fantastic place to throw parties, had a huge back yard, nice patio, etc.  My mother's opinion of the place was that she didn't understand why they would ever rent a place that nice to a friend and I. I already miss the space and luxury it afforded, but the scenery outside never changed and it didn't get pulled by locomotive, so I was willing to let it go.

I learned that when you have that much space, you tend to accumulate enough to fill it.  By the time I was ready to move out and join the circus, I realized I had several options:

Option 1: Take everything, pack it up and throw it in a storage unit.  I've learned this is a popular option for people who join the show, but I realized I would be spending $100/month to store a combination of the stuff left over from college and young professional life.  If the house burned to the ground I would be hard pressed to convince my insurance company that (excluding electronics) there was $2,000 worth of stuff.  So, my logic was that if I stayed with the show for two years, I would be losing money every month I stored stuff in a storage unit.  While there would be great potential for seeing my stuff on Storage Wars in 2016, I didn't feel like it was worth the effort and the money.

Option 2: Take everything I could pack back to my parents' house.  This was laughed at and immediately denied.

Option 3: Downsize.  As quickly as I could I started putting things on Craigslist and eBay.  Obviously my hope was I could put some extra money in my pocket and move on.  While I would do it again (I walked away with about $1,500 in my pocket) selling things in person is a giant pain in the rear.  A month after I left town and deleted all ads, I still have people calling and emailing "hey bro, u got dat tv?  i got 1 fitty" (this was for a TV I was asking $500 for).  Unfortunately, there were a lot of things that would have been nice to keep, but I ended up throwing away or donating about 15 garbage bags of stuff.  At the same point, it's nice to know that I don't have all that stuff cluttering up my life.

The packing list was really quite simple:
-Electronics (laptop, blu-ray player (I inherited a TV from the prior Paymaster), ipad, cell phone.
-Clothes:  This was tough, first because I had tons of clothes.  I wear a 17 and a half neck, 38-39 inch sleeve shirt.  These are hard to find.  Any time I found some at a reasonable price, I would buy out the store,  leaving me with a massive collection of business casual shirts that I just threw away as they got holes or stains.  This was also hard because I travel through every type of climate, from the desert in July to Chicago in December.  So, I had to bring both summer and winter clothes.
-Toiletries and medical items (the usual).
-Small kitchen items, a few glasses, 4 sets of utensils, kitchen towels and rags.

What was amazing is that that short list (with a few extras, like a gallon of nice bourbon (hey, I was leaving Kentucky)) it still took thirteen boxes of various sizes to ship to the train.

You might be asking yourself, how do you ship things to a circus train?  Well, my fine fellow (I'll assume you're a fine fellow since you're reading this blog), you Fedex everything to the next arena the circus is performing at.  It isn't unusual for a pallet of boxes to show up two weeks before any given show so the arena just makes a large pile in a corner that the circus crew raids hoping that the thing they ordered from Amazon had arrived that week.  I think the guy at Fedex Office in Cincinnati who got my truckload of stuff dumped on him that he had to deal with probably has my picture on his dartboard, but that's life in the circus!

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