|Etienne makes one of his first trips up the stairs with boxes. Many such trips were to follow. Photo by John.|
|The U-Haul was equipped with a ramp, which made things easier. Here, Aya pitches in. Photo by John.|
|First lunch at the new house -- a picnic-style feast to keep everyone moving.|
|A tour of the house reveals a clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom and some really beautiful stained-glass windows.|
|This is the kitchen of the downstairs apartment, which is so well lit it doesn't feel like downstairs.|
|The living room before anything has been moved in. Etienne, Aya and John are inspecting something.|
|By nightfall, with the truck unloaded, the living room has taken on another look entirely. Here, Etienne searches for a lost jug of milk while I look on. Photo by John.|
When John and I last moved, it was from separate bachelor apartments in Vancouver’s West End to our house in Dunbar. I was in my mid-20s, John had just turned 30, and we didn’t have much by way of belongings. But when the move was over, it was grueling enough that I clearly remember John saying: “I will never move again.” Four decades later, we haven’t.
So a little red flag went up when my nephew Etienne and his wife Aya, who have been living in a 650-square-foot apartment in Yaletown with their three-year-old daughter Emi, said they were planning to move to their new North Vancouver house on their own. They didn’t have much – they couldn’t have much in an apartment that small – they said. They had rented a U-haul; they’d have only a few boxes; it would just take a few hours.
I told Aya the “never move again” story when things first began to fray at the start of moving day Monday (John and I volunteered our services). None of the trio had slept well the night before and Emi was starting to get sick. The only available parking space outside the lockers where the family had stored their carefully-packed boxes over the preceding weeks had a big “no parking” sign on it. Every box had to go through multiple locked doors, one nastily alarmed. There was a noon appointment with the realtor at the new house that had to be gotten to before the loading was well under way. Then, because people have to actually live in one place before transferring themselves to another, there was the last-minute gathering-up of everything left in the apartment, the emptying and cleaning of the fridge, the forgotten plant in the corner, the baby stroller, and the call from the day care that Emi was sick and needed to be collected.
In the end, three vehicles were involved – the U-Haul, John’s pickup truck, and a car Etienne and Aya had rented to help them through the move. It was dark by the time the last storage container came down the ramp from the truck, through the back yard, and up the back steps to the house. The living room, kitchen and hallway were almost impassible with boxes, suitcases, furniture and storage containers. Four people had worked almost non-stop for half a day to get to this stage. “Who,” said Etienne, “would ever have thought that a little apartment could hold so much stuff?”
|The front gate of the new house is charmingly surrounded by greenery.|
|It's a different world from the Yaletown area, where Etienne and Aya have been living. Here, Emi, Aya, me and Etienne have a chat in the parkade loading zone area, where the U-Haul is being filled. Photo by John.|
|Emi gets one of her last rides down the condo hallway, on a flatbed dolly pulled by her mom. Photo by John.|
|Any moving day involves some waiting. Out in front of the new house, John waits for Etienne and Aya to arrive in the U-Haul for the first trip of the day.|
|Etienne snapped this photo of John with his camera and his dolly, sending it to us with the comment: "The only man on earth who won't give up his camera even when helping to move!"|
|John (with camera) coming up the back pathway of the new house. The garden has been beautifully planted with perennials that won't require too much work, Aya was pleased to learn.|
|Etienne and Aya in their new back garden. . .|
|. . . and by their new back deck.|