Ever since I moved to New York I have been a) telling people that everything is going great because nothing terrible had happened yet and b) waiting for something terrible to happen that would make me feel like I had made a huge mistake in moving here and then once I got over it I could continue my life knowing that I saw the worst of it and now my life in New York would be worry-free.
What actually happened was kind of different since the thing that finally got me to break down was not actually at all that terrible but boy did I really lose my shit about it. It wouldn't be true to form if I got all worked up about something of consequence. I much prefer to go berserk over things that matter very little and to which my mom tells me to "take a deep breath and remember that this is not a life or death matter, Kinsey". And she's always right.
When I first arrived, I spent a decent amount of time waiting for my 11 boxes of belongings to make their way across these great 50 states from Portland to my apartment in the east village. It took so long and the tracking information was so wildly vague and untimely that you would think I had sent them via the pony express. I dreamt about my packages arriving, or them not arriving and me freaking out almost every night since my mom shipped them and, for a while, the latter seemed much closer to reality.
The first mistake I made in shipping these was thinking I would do it through USPS because then they could just get into my building and there would be no dreaded slips from UPS or Fedex telling me redelivery would be attempted or that I had to pick up my boxes at a distribution center in the far reaches of Brooklyn (this is something I saw happen in an episode of Broad City, thus I am certain it's factual). This was a misled assumption. The first few boxes arrived on time and in my building's entry way without issue, lulling me into a false sense of security about USPS's delivery capabilities. In fact my only complaint was that the things that arrived first were a box of my old journals and a bunch of sandals. Which was my own goddamn fault for packing a box of journals and sandals. How bold of me to have hoped for some cooking utensils or, I don't know, SOME PILLOWCASES. But no, all I can do is continue to eat with the variety of plastic silverware I've been hoarding from takeout orders and sit on my air mattress and read my own mindless drivel circa 2010-2012. Joy.
After the first couple of boxes arrived, things really took a turn for the worse. For five days I obsessively checked USPS tracking to see that the only information available on my remaining packages was that they had arrived at a shipment facility in Federal Way, Washington. Which really wasn't at all reassuring because have you even heard of Federal Way, Washington? Me neither. That sounds like a city that was founded for the sole purpose of housing packages. Were they just going to sit there indefinitely? Were they going to become those boxes that get shipped to a lost mail warehouse in Atlanta and auctioned off to someone willing to bid on a mystery box of items? (This is something I heard a podcast about so I'm even more certain it's factual.) The only thing providing me any solace was the many Reddit and Amazon.com forums that exist solely to discuss how inaccurate USPS tracking is. I read a lot of these to reassure myself that my packages were in fact in transit and they just hadn't been scanned because USPS is one big hot mess who can't be held accountable for people's belongings. This seemed to be the internet's consensus.
On day six I opened my eyes from sleep and immediately checked my tracking information (as usual, because I'm nothing if not diligent/psychotic). MY PACKAGES HAD ARRIVED TO A SHIPPING FACILITY IN NEW JERSEY. They were set to be delivered at my apartment the next day, a Saturday, AND NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF MY LIFE.
I went about my Saturday as usual because obviously I was not going to get any more tracking information than that. I had done all I could, signed up for text alerts, refreshed the tracking information page five times, and lit my Drake votive candle in prayer (one of the most VIP items that had arrived in my box of out-of-season footwear and journals). And after all of this, while out running errands I got a text message at 3:45pm "USPS notice left—insecure area".
Now, initially I interpreted this as my packages had been left on my stoop. So I sprinted home in a panic. Heaven forbid someone snatch my bed sheets and pots and pans. And upon arriving home and reading my tracking notice online more carefully, I learned this meant my packages had NOT been left because there was supposedly no secure area to leave them.
It was at this point that I threw myself onto my sofa and had the aforementioned meltdown. I cried like a pathetic idiot. What do you MEAN there was no secure area, USPS?! YOU HAVE A KEY TO MY BUILDING! You drop shit off all the time! IN FACT, I SEE HERE IN MY LOBBY THE OTHER PACKAGES YOU DELIVERED TODAY.
I sent a very dramatic text to my mom and sister telling them I needed to move back home because I had given up on life and could not possibly wait any longer to get my belongings and live in a real functioning apartment. My mom reminded me it wasn't life or death. I knew she was right but I really didn't want to give her the satisfaction of agreeing with her because that's what you do when you're a young adult who's acting like a petulant teenager so I just sent back the waterfall of tears emoji. I'm glad I can act my age.
Sunday, the day following the most important day of my life, passed without event because, as Vernon Dursley ever so memorably said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, there's "no post on Sundays". I write an email to my team at work explaining that I will be working from home on Monday so I can be present for the mail person's arrival and the redelivery attempt of my packages.
At 11am on Monday, I start laying in wait for my mailman in my entryway stairwell because I might have become certifiably insane. I also am not convinced that they will read the note that I left on my mailbox that says "USPS—please buzz for package delivery. I will come down to get them! :)" I'm sure anyone reading this would definitely want the type A, control freak author to come down and meet them face to face. Definitely.
The great news is that I can get one bar of my wifi on the first floor of my building, so while it might be taking five seconds to load a page, I am technically still getting the internet. At 3 o'clock, in a move of desperation and paranoia, I take my vigil to the stoop outside because why not just go whole hog with the USPS-stalker act. At 4 o'clock, I come to my senses (but also am just cold) and return to my apartment. In my six-and-a-half hour stakeout, nothing more happened than me receiving an absolutely withering glare and deep sigh from a disgruntled neighbor who seemed to say with his eyes "you are singlehandedly tarnishing this entire neighborhood with your stair-sitting". Honestly, where the hell was the mail person?
At 4:30, someone buzzes my apartment. THIS IS IT. THE MAIL PERSON IS HERE! There is a chance I have never moved with more urgency in my life, and I find the mail person (a mail lady, I discover) in our vestibule and I pant to her "hi, I'm the person in 3B!!!"
She barely glances at me when saying simply, "your packages are at the post office". Now at this point, my heart plummets for like the third time in 24 hours (not dramatic at all) and without losing my entire cool (did I have one to begin with?) I learn through a line of questioning that my boxes are being held at a post office three blocks away AND that I will have to retrieve them on my own since they are too large to be wielded/delivered. OKAY, RIDDLE ME THIS: WHAT IS THE POINT OF MAIL "DELIVERY" THEN? But whatever.
I look at my watch and it's 4:33, the post office closes at 5:00. Now I am actually moving with the most urgency I have ever in my life. When I get to the post office I stand in the package pick-up line behind four other disgruntled patrons of the USPS waiting for the help of one USPS employee. It is clear that this employee has nothing but contempt for all of us standing in her line and perhaps the postal service as a whole (this I can relate to).
A series of things happens while I am waiting in line and watching the clock very closely:
- I realize I may not be able to carry these boxes home.
- Actually, I realize that I certainly will not be able to carry these boxes home and will have to take a car. An Uber? Maybe an Uber XL?
- My phone dies. I cannot take an Uber.
- I determine I will have to take the boxes individually to the curb and then get them in a cab.
When I finally get to the front of the line, I show her piece of paper will all my tracking numbers and my address and she looks at me and says, "oh, I know you. Come with me." Nothing could feel more foreboding. I am taken behind the desk to a cavernous mail dungeon where there is an entire crate dedicated to my boxes. Like, a giant, wheeled metal crate. A crate large enough for me to sleep in. Are you getting a sense of scale here? A crate with so many boxes that I will not be able to fit into a cab.
The woman who has led me here and made it clear I am the bane of her existence asks me, "how are you going to get these home?" Which is a really great question. But I did remember seeing a hand truck on our way back to this package prison, so I asked if I could borrow it, explaining that I only live three blocks away. Our conversation quickly spirals:
Keeper of the packages: "We don't have one of those here."
Me: "I just saw on over there. A dolly."
Keeper of the packages: "No we don't have those."
Me: "You don't have a hand truck? I really just saw one over there." (Here I am thinking perhaps terminology is preventing clear communication, maybe they don't use the word dolly here?)
Keeper of the packages: "No." (Terminology is not the issue.)
Me: "Can I show you?"
I take her to the hand truck in question, which is clearly a hand truck. I offer to pay her, or to leave my entire wallet with her (unwise, but I am rarely wise and especially not in moments of desperation). She accepts my license as collateral and I load half of the boxes onto the hand truck and wheel them out of a strange back entrance, but not before the keeper of the packages condemns me with, "I am leaving at five, you need to be back here by then," with an absolutely withering glare.
It is 4:45 at this point. I am now my own mail carrrier. I am careening through the streets of the east village with 100 pounds of precariously stacked belongings. Im sweating a lot in my down coat. I look insane, which I know because when I walk past a set crew of grizzled older men smoking outside a concert venue I get an array of furrowed brows and wide eyes, while one of them even takes a step back. I am visibly a hazard.
At my apartment I unload the boxes into my entry way with basically the same amount of care as your average delivery person (so essentially zero care). And sprint back to the post office, down jacket flapping open wildly and the now-unburdened hand truck clanging and bouncing over every single dip and crack in the sidewalk (there are many).
I arrive again at the package pick up window looking a lot worse for the wear, its 4:55. The keeper of the packages glowers at my arrival and wordlessly escorts me back for my second round of packages. I load them up. I hustle home. I throw them into the entryway. I make my third and final trip to the damned post office at 5:05 to return the hand truck/dolly that supposedly the post office had none of. The keeper of the packages has nothing but contempt for me as I have clearly held her up for five crucial minutes. I wouldn't be surprised if they scanned my license and hung up a zoomed-in print out in the package prison with like, "BEWARE OF THIS MAIL PATRON" scrawled above it. But, I have my packages and thus my whole being is complete.
After having some time removed from the tizzy I swept myself into, I will now list the things that I packed that I thought were worth two weeks of anxiety, obsessive shipment tracking, and shin splints from speed walking the three blocks between me and the post office five times:
- Three extension cords
- Two power strips
- a Ziploc bag of foreign coins
- all the christmas cards I've received over the past three years
- book ends
- Two pairs of unwashed socks
If you are ever looking for some hot tips about moving cross-country absolutely do not ask me. I'm a fucking rookie.