This week I’m in full on Martha-mode prepping for my first American Thanksgiving. There is no time to do anything but study how to cook everything I’m serving, count how many sticks of butter I’ll need, and stress tweeze my eyebrows. But I did find this post that I’d started writing a few weeks ago during my month- long trip to Canada.
I have a sweet friend who is considering moving across the country. She asked if we could have coffee to talk about my “process” for moving to Florida. I happily agreed because pretty much all I did in my weeks back home was hold my friends’ babies and drink good coffee. But upon reflecting on my own move, I was doubtful I’d be any help to her. I truly had no process when I upped and moved to a new country. Now that I’m long moved in, and have travelled home again, I have a better perspective on what one truly needs to move to Florida.
Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of What to Take When You Move to Florida, but more importantly What Not to Take:
- A stockpile of birth control because it’s six months in and I’m still without a health insurance card, and have no doctor. My pharmacist thinks I’m an idiot who “lost” three months’ worth last June, but really I was like an estrogen-hoarding chipmunk, stuffing my cheeks with enough supply to last me until I returned to Newfoundland again.
- Ankle socks.
- Bikinis. Everyone wears bikinis here. No one pieces. No tankinis. And there’s zero judgement. It’ll take about 20 seconds to look beyond your fears and insecurities because it is hot and you will be thankful you’re wearing as little of the polyester-spandex blend as possible.
Not to Take:
- 5 pairs of identical Levi’s dark wash skinny jeans. I could have made do with one pair to wear when travelling back to Canada.
- 2 twin packs of 20 oz containers of contact lens solution. (Exactly five pounds of Opti-Free.) News flash: it’s also sold here in Walmart and is (no shit) cheaper to buy than to ship to a different country.
- 2 half-used tubes of toothpaste. Same note as above: they do sell toothpaste in Florida.
- Long gym pants. You’ll die from heat exhaustion. Just get over your thigh jiggle and wear shorts.
I wanted to move most of my stuff so that I felt at home in a new place. Oh, but right. Then my husband got sciatica and couldn’t even manage his stuff when he returned to Florida a few weeks ahead of me. So then I was stuck moving his own crap first, and all of my to-do list got shoved to the back burner and basically went up in flames, like my first attempt at cooking rice. I panicked, and that’s how half-used toiletries ended up crossing the border.
On my last day living in NL, my list was still a mile long, and all I ended up doing that morning was pick up cake pops for me and Janine and hang out at my old workplace wistfully. Moving sucks.
Good thing I love UPS. I love Peter at the Hamlyn Road location because he put up with me bringing in my wardrobe, laundry basket by laundry basket, every day for a full week. I started shipping our belongings like a crazy person. Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook? Sure. Precious soprano sax? Definitely. Millennium Falcon figurine? If I have to. Insurance? Meh. Let’s just MOVE.
I underestimated the size of my spring/summer wardrobe. I ended up shipping 200 pounds of clothing and shoes. It actually probably would have cost the same to just donate it all and buy new in Florida, but I got swept up in the sentiment of keeping everything I’ve bought since 2003 (read: started high school) and “borrowed” from my mother’s closet.
Peter would pack my clothes neatly in clear blue recycling bags so that when the customs offices or border control or whoever opened them up, they could clearly see what was inside and that the contents matched his shipping descriptions. “18 pairs of shoes!” “Very nice purses.” I loved his descriptions. But one particular last load of clothes comprised things I was hoping to have room for in my suitcases, but ran out. My “unmentionables.” A palm tree printed nightie. A garter belt I’ve never worn because puh-lease tell me I must have bought one only intended to fasten around one thigh. A black bikini. Some other very PG-13 lacy items. No big deal. Later, when I opened up the boxes in Florida, I hauled out the clear blue bags only to find a single, black Billy Boot garbage bag at the very bottom. (For non-NL readers, Billy Boot is the t’ickest and toughest garbage bag made in our province.) My “indecent” articles were all inside. Thank you, Peter, for your ultimate discretion, so that no man or woman need lay eyes on my Joe Fresh lingerie. Your attention to detail was immaculate #notallconceptionisthough.
Two weeks later after I flew down, my 200 pounds of UPS packages arrived. Oh honeyyyyy, I’m home.
It was clear this would not all fit in the closet in our master bedroom. My husband’s belongings take up the bulk of that precious space, including important every day items such as this tactical vest and plate carrier (plate carrier is the softened version of what you probably would normally call it):
Please try to imagine my surprise when I discovered these vests while home alone during one of my first days here. I ended up leaving these vests and their respective paraphernalia untouched, and took over the closet in the guest room. Our closets are the only his and hers we have in the apartment, no monogrammed towels or mugs for us. Then I stumbled across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and apart from thinking Marie Kondo really needed a boyfriend during her teenage years, I also kind of thought she is my soulmate. My spirit animal of organization. She inspired me to get rid of all clothes I owned in high school. Confession: I kept one skirt from 2003, because I still believe I can pull it off, as featured below during my brother’s wedding weekend this past September:
I also purged anything I had “borrowed” from my mother’s closet (no offence, Mom, just trying to keep it hip) and everything I had bought from Mark’s Work Wearhouse & LOFT while trying to look like an accountant back home in my day job. And something I think a lot of us are guilty of – I got rid of everything I was hoping I’d fit into someday. I work out here every day and eat as healthy as I’m ever prepared to, so this is it. This is my final form. There will be no size smaller. Goodbye, Tiffany blue Calvin Klein dress I’ve never worn.
Marie’s motto is: Does it spark joy? If not, dispose of it. My husband should count his blessings that he, through the house cleaning horrors and roommate adjustments, still brings me joy (for now).
Now that my closet here has some breathing room and no one knows how old I am, I’m convinced with enough research on Pinterest I can fool the locals into thinking I’m rocking my mid-twenties for the next decade. I’m not a trendy person but since I have the time (all the time, really), I took it on as a mission to look to look like a local. Like an American girl. After days of pinning and browsing the outlets, the upgrades to my wardrobe included: a J. Crew Chambray shirt, white tennis sneakers, and distressed jeans. It was hard not to feel like Bugs Bunny in my new white kicks, but it’s getting better. I’m also now used to always feeling a slight breeze against my thigh in my expensive jeans with holes in the them.
I downsized my closet when back in Newfoundland, too. Anything that I didn’t wear after my three & half weeks there was shoved in a bag for my cousin to decide to keep or donate. A bunch of items went on consignment to sell (LOFT is still a commodity for current working accountants and moms, it seems). And in owning less clothes (about 75% less), it’s much easier to get dressed in the morning and make cooler outfits. I even now own one of those cool shirt-dress things that have the shoulders cut out, because it’s actually really hard to find shirts in Florida that do have full sleeves.
In hindsight when moving, I could have just checked one extra 50 pound suitcase of clothing instead of shipping anything, because I’ve donated about 100 pounds, and brought the remaining 50 back to Newfoundland this fall. Turns out it wasn’t the amount of stuff I moved with me that made me feel at home here. But don’t gag – it also wasn’t the joy and love of finally living with my husband. I think it really came down to the pink curtains I hung in the living room.
Now that sparks my joy.