Moving day provides the true test for friendship

If there is one certainty in life it is that you will find out who your true friends are on moving day. Not their moving day, your moving day.

If she or he knocks on your door first thing that morning with two takeout coffees in hand, that’s a true friend. If they’re there to help stuff that last loose item from the pantry into a cardboard box, that’s a true friend. And if they’re still there to share a beer — or, more importantly, to help dry a tear — at the end of the day, that’s a true friend.

We had plenty of opportunities to find out who our true friends were during the first two years of our marriage, when we moved seven times! From Teaneck, N.J., to Harrisburg, Pa., to Amagansett, L.I., to Wayne, Maine, to Winthrop, Maine, back to Wayne, then to Monmouth, Maine, and finally (whew!) to Alexandria, Va. (Such was the fate of the family of an itinerant journalist whose first newspaper job out of college paid $112.50 a week.)

I got to ruminating on moving this week as our daughter and her family moved out of the home they’ve lived in for the past decade. It was something of an ordeal, involving a few tears and several very large trucks provided by the very nice folks from Jernick Moving & Storage of Greenport. In fact, Dick Jernick said he rarely, if ever, had seen as much furniture (and stuff) come out of a three-bedroom home.

Added to the Olsen family’s ordeal was the fact that they have had to move in with the former Joan Giger Walker and me for 10 days before their new home is ready for occupancy. And their visitation just happened to coincide with the annual summertime visit of our second daughter and her four-member family. Take my word for it: 10 is just enough. Or perhaps 11.

If I don’t say so myself, I have a certain amount of expertise in this matter of moving, having not only to do with the aforementioned seven moves in 16 months, but with my summertime employment with the United Van Lines agent in Hackensack, N.J., when I was in college. My experience included personally carrying a standard-size refrigerator up five flights of stairs to an apartment in Jersey City, accidentally backing a moving van into the car behind (!) us on a gridlocked 34th Street in Manhattan and packing a friend’s dirty dishes right out of his kitchen sink. (Yes, that’s a true friend.)

Joan and I have the advantage of having lived in the same home for some 35 years now, but that in itself presents some very substantial challenges, moving-wise. Because if and when we finally move, there will be at least 35 years of stuff to deal with, and that means we’ll be in need of some very true friends.

Reader input has caused us to revisit, and ultimately revise, the News-Review’s “Letters to the Editor” policy, as well as the policy of sister publication, The Suffolk Times. (See editorial on page 8 for additional details.)

The two major changes are a 350-word limit and a limit of no more than two letters in any month by the same letter writer. These seem to us reasonable limits that will enliven the letters page and prevent individual writers from dominating the space.

And if you read the new policy on Page 8 carefully, you will ascertain that these limits are not hard and fast, and can be waived at the discretion of the editor when deemed appropriate. Such examples might include a well-crafted 400-word letter of vital public interest, or a letter correcting a factual error in the last edition before an important local election. We vow to keep the exceptions to a minimum, and please remember: that’s what an editor’s job entails — making judgment calls like this.