In December, the only move I want to make is from my house to the beach. This requires work, cobbling together towels, sunscreen, water bottles, a magazine, snacks … Whew, I'm knackered already.
Instead of hitting the beach, my family recently moved from the home in Pāpāmoa we'd shared for four-and-a-half years.
After arriving in New Zealand nine years ago with six suitcases between three of us, we'd amassed a house full of stuff – four bedrooms' worth.
Add the garage and shed, and it was enough to make me wonder if the only move I'd be doing last Sunday would be to a residential treatment facility for people who cannot adult anymore. Not. One. More. Day.
We're far from alone in our endeavour. Census data show Tauranga's population rose by nearly 22,000 people in five years between 2013 and 2018 - expanding at a rate of 3.6 per cent a year. That's a lot of people shifting a lot of boxes, furniture and whiteware between where they used to live and new homes in the Bay.
In the past couple of years, our family has morphed from party of five (including an international student at intervals) to a trio.
We didn't need two lounges and three bathrooms. Most evenings, we'd hang out in the same room together, me on my laptop or reading, kids sitting quietly with their appendages (phones). Sometimes, Miss 15 even studied.
Murphy's Law dictated the house would not sell in winter, as was my plan, but instead, on the cusp of summer, as temperatures were heating up while I spent countless hours inside folding, filling and taping boxes.
Shifting house triggers existential crises, begging questions like, "Why did we keep broken stuff?"; "Why do I still have a mobile phone from 2009?"; and "What's the meaning of life?"
Life is not meant to be lived with your head in a box. Yet sorting and shifting junk is part drudgery, part cleansing as selling, donating and throwing away what's no longer useful, beautiful or meaningful liberates the psyche.
Some items belong in the past rather than getting dragged into your future. Let someone else enjoy the well-worn leather lounge suite that would likely be too large for the next home.
We're staying local – renting for now. When the kids and I arrived in Mount Maunganui in 2011, we hired a tiny bach on Oceanbeach Rd. At the moment, we're living in an even smaller bach on the same street.
Miss 15 and I share a bedroom with two single beds. It's only for 10 nights, and not all bad. One morning, my daughter woke up giggling about a dream she'd had. She couldn't wait to tell me what it was.
Another bonus: Cleaning should be quick. And without Wi-Fi, the kids have been doing something retro - watching over-the-air TV together, rather than sitting in separate rooms on separate screens. They scoffed when I mentioned board games are stored in a cupboard.
The process of shifting reminded me why we love a place where we claim no long-term or blood ties. A family of friends rallied to help pack, assist with a moving sale, bring items to the tip and to donation centres. They also saved my sanity, showing I wasn't alone during one of life's most stressful tasks.
What never fails to spark joy and wonder is when people on the edges of our circle come round to help.
The same thing happened when my late husband was critically ill in hospital 10 years ago – people I was just getting to know or with whom I'd lost touch brought biscuits and dinners, watched my children and sat with me.
There's a saying that people who help during your worst moments are your best heroes. Some weeks, it's time to call in the heroes. Other weeks, we become heroes ourselves.
Friends empathised with my task. "Moving always sucks," they said. I don't disagree. And I don't know there's a way to eliminate the stress and worry that accompanies clearing out a home and shifting your worldly goods elsewhere.
I smile remembering the fairy god family of four who turned up a half-hour early to cart boxes and lift furniture.
Or three of my son's football teammates' mums, one of whom saved our large refrigerator from toppling in transit; another who helped pack and oversee a moving sale, and a third who brought her trailer to bring one last load of items for donation (some lucky person has gotten a bargain on three shiny, red bar stools).
Another friend and her husband not only donated the use of a large truck with hydraulic lift but also helped carry, shift and store our items.
A friend I met through a local theatre production and rarely see not only helped at the house but gifted me a meatloaf.
My lunches were sorted for a week. Another friend helped pack and brought her husband plus tools to disassemble furniture.
A neighbour was pressed into service for other jobs requiring tools and expertise outside my scope.
When whoever is holding the cosmic favour cards stops playing Candy Crush, Minecraft or Bridge long enough to tally my receiver-of-kindness score, he or she will deliver a long invoice.
Or remind me there's never a shortage of other people who need a hand.
For all the chagrin of sorting junk you shouldn't have bought in the first place, or pain of emancipating a memory-laden of a pile of bricks and tile, the lasting treasure after purging, reckoning and moving on is friendship.
We may have to let go of things and even places we once called home, but we don't have to relinquish our friends.