This summer, my 8-year-old son, who has an odd habit of reading the Sunday classifieds, found a house he thought we simply had to buy.
Forty-eight hours later, we did just that. I have put more consideration into the purchase of socks.
Every time I have moved, I have had to relearn the same facts about an ordeal that never, ever goes smoothly. For anyone. Anywhere. This time, I wrote them down:
Proportion of our furniture and other stuff that we were instructed by the real estate agent to remove from our old house before potential buyers could possibly be permitted to see the inside of said house: 40 percent.
Increase in sales price of old house resulting from that scheme: You tell me.
Percentage of stuff that sat in storage that we ever wanted to see again: Zippo.
Current location of that stuff: Floor to ceiling stacks in every nook and cranny of the new place.
Number of boxes that have not been opened since at least three moves ago: 14.
Number of items of kid stuff unloaded at yard sale before moving: 840.
Percentage of those items that had ever been played with, read or otherwise used by resident children: Maybe 20.
Closing comment by moving company foreman at 1:20 a.m. completion of job that started at 7 a.m. the previous day: "Man, I shoulda stayed in school."
Number of consecutive days on which no mail was delivered to us at either old or new address: 13.
Previous owner's description of water that entered basement of new house during past storms: "A little trickle once every few years."
Hours that elapsed between moving into new house and massive, biblical flooding of basement: 94.
Description by previous owner of the sea of revolting wastewater that sat permanently in the tub of the dishwasher that previous owner refused to repair or replace, even though said owner had represented dishwasher as working "just fine": "Casual water."
Occupation of previous owner: Hint -- this house is in Washington.
Percentage difference in estimates by three roofers to repair same portion of aging roof: 221.
Life span of new sod placed on lawn by friendly gardening company: Four days.
Comment by UPS customer service clerk when asked what I should do with packages delivered to new house but addressed to previous owner: "Shove them."
Comment by second UPS clerk when informed of that lovely encounter: "Sir, all I can say is incompetence is rampant."
Amount of lead in water at former home, as measured by District of Columbia tests: Almost nil.
Amount of lead in water at new home, as measured by District of Columbia tests: Put it this way -- if we dried the stuff, we could manufacture lead aprons for all the X-ray technicians on the planet.
Prime barking hour for next-door dog at old house: 3:30-4:30 a.m.
Prime barking hour for next-door dog at new house: 6:30-7:30 a.m. We have begun a daily program of prayers of thanksgiving.
Biggest mistake we made in buying previous house: Choosing a house that had an enormous old tree immediately behind it, poised to maim or kill our children at any moment.
Biggest mistake we made in buying new house: Choosing a house that has an enormous old tree immediately behind it, poised to maim or kill our children at any moment.
Number of contractors and repairmen to visit new house in first six weeks after moving in: 23.
Number of contractors and repairmen who proposed to charge us less than $1,000 (call it "one household unit") for a day of their services: Three.
Number of times in my life I have been paid more than one household unit for a day of work: Two.
Number of times I have moved since reaching age of majority: 10.
Number of times I have sworn I would not move again: You got it.
What I like about the new place, despite all of the above: Pretty much everything, really.