Nothing other than moving makes me realize I have some really, really good friends. One friend helped me walk a box spring more than a quarter-mile to my new apartment. My roommate helped me move a coffee table, and other friends have helped with minor parts of my move. I am not done, but the heavy lifting is out of the way (the mattress and box spring).
Moving, no matter how much you move, sucks. It’s by nature a major disruption in our lives. If you live in a city as I do in Baltimore, you have to hold up an entire street or alley and inconvenience a lot of people to move around you. And you can’t hold up the street all day, so you have to move your car or U-Haul occasionally after holding up traffic for far too long.
For especially the incredibly heavy items like mattresses and beds, you can’t do it by yourself. A lot of people would hire someone to get the burden out of the way, but I’m incredibly lucky I have a lot of friends who can help me with those endeavors.
When I was in college, I spent some time working for a moving company as a temporary job. I would usually do the temporary job while we were done with finals, but I just remember being terribly understaffed and having a substantial amount of orders. We would work at the end of semesters when people needed to store items in their dorms in storage facilities.
We would move extremely heavy items, navigate small hallways, cram the elevators, and I remember feeling particularly frustrated at especially picky people who insisted we lifted their items a certain way or put their item in a certain location. I wish they knew we were only getting paid $15, but I digress — moving in any capacity is a huge headache, whether you’re the person getting paid to move items for people or whether you’re moving for yourself.
To me, nothing about moving is fun except for the people. It’s not even good exercise because of the toll it puts on your back.
Another especially good friend went with me for two hours to pick up a new futon. No other Home Depot had the futon my girlfriend and I wanted in stock. We drove from Baltimore, Maryland to Ashburn, Virginia, paying all the tolls to make the drive as quick as possible. When we got to the Home Depot, it took customer service about 15 minutes to find our futon. For a moment, I panicked. It would be absolutely terrible if we drove two hours to a different state not get the futon. Fortunately, the Home Depot employees found the futon and got it to us before 4 p.m.
But this was also not something I could have done alone. My friend helped me lift the futon, but he also provided me emotional support while driving for four hours. We talked and caught up on life the entire time. I get tired of driving just one hour on my own. With his help, I didn’t get tired. He went out of his way to help me on a day he didn’t have to, which makes me grateful for not only him but all my friends.
Without friends, I would have to pay people
There’s nothing wrong with paying people to help you move. The fact is, however, that I live a very minimalist lifestyle. I don’t have much to move. There are only a couple of items I really need help moving, like a mattress and box spring. Otherwise, everything else I can move and go back and forth of my own volition, and it’s been a painful and arduous process, but it is getting done.
My friends and I usually love each other unconditionally given everything we’ve been through with each other. The friends who help always brush off anything I can do for them in return or my expressions of gratitude, telling me “I had nothing better to do anyway.”
However, I can’t help but feel like I’m exhausting a lot of my friend currency (if such a thing exists) by asking for help moving. Moving is, by nature, a huge sacrifice of time and effort. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but feel like I owe people who take hours out of their day to help me with backbreaking work and free labor. I’ve paid for more than a couple of drinks to show that gratitude.
One of my friends is also moving soon, so I will probably help him move too. That’s my debt and what I owe him right at the very least. I can’t help but feel like this mindset feels transactional with my friends, but I would push against that: this is just me absolving myself of the sin of being an asshole. If someone goes out of your way to help you with something, most of the time they ask nothing in return. But most of the time it would break an unspoken rule of friendship to actually not do anything in return.
I don’t know if there’s a greater signal of friendship and affection than helping someone else move. The airport rides come a close second. I know this and acknowledge it, which means I’ll pay it forward. I also was completely not aware there were unspoken rules to asking friends for moving help, including acknowledging when it’s a big favor, providing refreshments, not being nitpicky, and not taking it personally when someone can’t provide help. I figured these were simply common courtesies.
But perhaps my move is just significantly easier because I’m only moving a couple of blocks after the expiration of my lease and different life plans for myself and my current roommate. I’m eternally grateful for having great friends because life’s a lot easier with good friends.
Originally published on June 7, 2021 on Medium.