Moving is one of the worst experiences of human existence. Everything you've spent years accumulating and arranging to perfection suddenly has to be packed up and hauled away. It's a process that consumes weeks, and often you have to think so much about the new place -- how can I possibly fit this couch in that living room, and didn't there seem to be more cupboard space when we signed the papers? -- that any semblance of a normal life in the old place is impossible. So I was fascinated by this little tidbit among all the Obama Inauguration coverage:
President Bush and his wife, Laura, will wake up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday morning, just as they have the last eight years. But by the time the new president, Barack Obama, returns from the inaugural parade with his family in late afternoon, there will be nary a box of theirs left to unpack. Clothes will be neatly folded in drawers, pictures will rest on dresser tops and walls, stuffed animals will lie on beds, as if the Obamas had always lived there.
The highly orchestrated quick-change operation, conducted by the 93-member White House residence staff, has no parallel in the outside world. The entire affair is over and done with in a matter of hours, without a single moving man setting foot inside the Executive Mansion.
So Tuesday was probably a moving experience for millions of people, but Obama wasn't one of them. "As if the Obamas had always lived there" -- can you even imagine that? When I moved here, from Michgan City, the company agreed to pay for the move itself, but not the packing, so we had to do that ourselves. There's still stuff in boxes in the attic I haven't looked at in over 20 years. Probably don't need it, huh?
It helps that there's no furniture involved in the move -- the Obamas are leaving all that in their Chicago home, which will become -- what? -- the "Midwestern White House"? This is the first time in a long time a presidential retreat will be in an urban setting. Can Obama really escape and collect his thoughts in a dense city neighborhood? I have to get away from the city for renewal. Bet they spend a lot of time in Hawaii.