When I moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, I accidentally threw out all of my underpants.
I arrived in Los Angeles at 11 p.m., eyes still puffy from leaving my boyfriend, friends, and home in St. Louis, and all I wanted to do was shower, curl up on my air mattress in graduate housing, and regret all the life decisions that had led me to that point.
Oh yeah, and it was my birthday.
After my shower I unzipped my suitcase and attempted to get dressed. Shirt...pants...underpants? I dug and dug through my stupid 1980s monster suitcase (because up until that point all luggage I owned had been inherited from my parents) and could not find any underpants.
Then, in a moment of clarity, I remembered what I'd done: I'd thrown away all of my beloved underpants.
In the madness of last-minute packing (is there another kind?) I'd emptied out my underwear drawer into a garbage bag, thinking that I'd just grab it and toss it into my '80s suitcase. NOPE. As I went through the chain of events in my head, I remembered telling my boyfriend to just, "Grab all the garbage bags in my room and toss 'em out."
Sitting wrapped in a towel, on beige industrial carpeting, in a room with just an air mattress and an underpantsless suitcase on my birthday, I felt very alone, very naked, and very pathetic.
"I just want my fucking underpants," I wept.
Now I know what you might be thinking: Lou, you know people in Los Angeles (mostly) wear underpants too, right? You could have just sucked it up, gone commando for 20 minutes, toddled down to the Walgreens or CVS on the corner, and picked up a pack of Hanes.
Yes, I should have done that. I would probably do that now and laugh about it. But in the moment, Los Angeles felt big and vicious and mocking. The thought of going out into all that to buy underpants felt like the city was hazing me. Yes, this sounds dramatic, but in the moment IT WAS.
So that night, I gave myself the gift of not having to go out to hunt and gather underpants. I stayed home, stayed naked, read a David Sedaris book, and wondered if my MOVING CATASTROPHE was an omen.
It wasn't. Los Angeles turned out to be my true home in so many ways. But I'll never forget how much I LOATHED it, through no fault of its own, that first night.
I'd like to say I learned my lesson, DON'T PUT THINGS IN GARBAGE BAGS THAT AREN'T GARBAGE. But three years later, I did it again. Yes, really. I accidentally threw away all my underpants when I moved in with Mr. Louise. Well, most of them, luckily I was WAY more disorganized at that point and had stashed some in my backpack and car. Plus, you know, I was only moving five miles away so underpants reacquisition was pretty easy.
When we moved to Hawai‘i, I accidentally threw away a box of photos from my time in college. (I still cry over this one.)
When I moved to Yokohama, I mistakenly shipped a box of Mr. Louise's clothes to my parents in Texas (his checked bag had some clothes but mostly his PhD books). That first month in Yokohama, he had a couple of Brandy the Cat shirts I'd made him, two pairs of pants, a button-down or two, and a T-shirt that said "Wellesley College Alumna" on it. (When people asked him, "Isn't that a women's college?" he liked to respond with, "Doy, that's why it says alumna on it!")
The move to Hong Kong was relatively painless because we purposely threw nearly everything away, but my moving frenzy struck again during this last move to Yamaguchi. Upon arriving, I realized that I had no socks, we no longer owned any bath towels, and SOMETHING made of glass had broken in my suitcase, affording me the delightful task of picking teeny-tiny shards of glass out of all my clothes (underpants included).
I'm still not sure what broke, but whatever it was was pulverized. Which begs the question: WHAT THE HELL DID THE AIRLINE DO TO MY BAG?
I'm still a little afraid to put on one of my bras. The last one cut me.
All things considered, these are minor mishaps, but after all my moving experience, you'd THINK I'd know how to pack by now.
What are the boneheaded things you've done while moving? Any real horror stories? What have you accidentally thrown away, broken, maimed?