How do you pack a bicycle?

It’s amazing how fast life can move. I made a decision in the spring that I wanted last winter to be the final one I experienced in Chicago. Two days ago, I signed a sales contract on my house. Pending attorney review, and assuming the close date in the contract doesn’t have to move, I’ll be handing over the keys on November 10. Wow.

At every milestone in the process — the discussions with my boss, the initial meeting with the real estate agent, the “scouting visit” to the area, the preparation for listing, and finally the day the listing became active — I’ve revisited this decision to move in one way or another. It excites me. It scares me. But it is definitely happening now.

In all the discussions I’ve had about my move, I’ve gleaned some great suggestions that will help me with the packing and moving. I’ve also been researching details on my own, too, and I think I have a solid plan on how to make this all happen in the 9 weeks I have remaining in the house.

Since I am moving to a much smaller place, I need to bring less stuff. I’ve known this for months now, and I’ve been chipping away at the contents of this large house (and the garage and yard) through a combination of one-off sales (Craigslist, Ravelry, etc.), donations, and giving away to friends and family. A few pieces of furniture will go to friends and family, but I will have lots of small electrics, tools, and furniture left to sell. It was suggested to me that I hire an estate agency and let them liquidate the household items that aren’t coming with me. Great idea! I’ve collected the names of a few estate agencies and will start contacting them next week.

The few things I’m bringing with me will be packed in a shipping container. To keep the amount of stuff as minimal as possible, I need to fit everything in one 7’x 7’x 8′ container. In my mind, I have a very simple list of belongings to bring, but then I keep thinking of the odds and ends that weren’t included in my mental reckoning, like my bicycle. (Hence the title of this entry which is based on my most recent Google search! I’ve learned that it is most advisable to get a bicycle box and disassemble the bike. Since my bike will need a tune-up at the other end of trip, I think I’ll go this route and then just drop off my bike at a shop when I arrive and ask them to assemble it and tune it up for me. Voila! Now…how do you disassemble a bike…hmm…something else to research.)

I’ve been offered a lot of help and all this generosity has confirmed that I’m moving away from a fantastic group of friends and neighbors I will miss dearly.

While I’m moving towards my goal, this aspiration I have for the next chapter in my life, there are bittersweet experiences. Yesterday I visited with a family I used to spend a lot of time with when I was in high school. I befriended all the children in one way or another and the father worked with my dad until the factory was closed and they were all laid off. I used to call them my adopted family since I would visit their house on holidays. After eating turkey on Thanksgiving at my own house, I would drive to their house and spend the rest of the evening hanging out with them. The mother died several years ago, the father is now in hospice, and I paid what was surely my last visit to him and the family in full. I was warmly greeting by all and we laughed a lot as we reminisced.

And then today my coop and hens were picked up by the new owners. Through the network of chicken keepers here in Chicago, I found a nice young couple who are starting to build their urban homestead. The guy was here all morning with a friend disassembling the coop and packing it into a rented truck. They have a busy afternoon ahead of them re-assembling the coop in their own yard and getting the hens settled in. I know the hens are going to a good home, and that this couple will learn a lot by taking care of them over the coming months, but I miss them already. I’ll miss their funny antics, the way they cleaned up stray kitchen scraps, and of course the delicious, fresh eggs.

This has been a stunningly wonderful summer in Chicago. There have been few stretches of crushing heat and humidity, and instead we’ve had mostly gentle warmth. It’s true we’ve had a lot of rain, but that has just made the garden and yard green and lush and beautiful. (Although it did mean a LOT of weeding to get ready for photos and showings.) As a farewell, this summer could not have been better, and we’re now entering my favorite time of year here: fall. I’m grateful that I get to spend one last October here, since it is the month I love the most.

How do you wrap up your life and pack your history? I don’t think Google has the answer to that.