My arms are covered in bruises, aubergine and plum fading to the color of the autumn leaves that have woven an elegantly golden carpet outside our window since we began this adventure. My muscles ache and it is harder to stand up straight after lowering another carton to the ground and I am reminded that I am not as young as I was the last time we did this. Carton after carton, rolls of white tape scattered throughout the house and a never-ending search for the last magic marker I had just been clutching now where did I use it last, for heaven’s sake?! And on the other side of town the busy bees are energetically flapping their wings, all in a flurry to finish the last touches to our new home.
As you may know by now, we have moved. Yes, three long, grueling months from that wedding anniversary on which we became the proud, excited owners of a new apartment, stars in our eyes and big glamorous visions dancing in our heads, to the day we moved; three harrowing months of ripping up carpet, scraping and sanding and waxing old wood parquet, knocking down walls, plastering and painting, all in a mad dash to conclude before that fateful day when nothing would be forgiven. Three arduous, wearisome, glorious months of endless traipsing back and forth from old home to new, between installing kitchen cabinets and packing up our belongings, between hauling plasterboard, mud-colored carpets and old pieces of furniture to the dump and dragging bag upon bag of books to the used bookstore praying they will say yes. We sawed and hammered, measured and re-measured, haggled over kitchen designs, sink choices and tile color. We spent endless hours at Ikea, choosing, checking and rechecking, some of us being rushed bodily through the interesting sections displaying pots and pans, colorful sheets and fuzzy blankets, wondrously sparkling luminaries, straight to the kitchens where we made our choices before being questioned by our son, our own personal architect and toughest critic. Evenings less than romantic wandering the aisles of the industrial-sized hardware store, less home improvement than home correction, analyzing flooring, my hands caressing each possibility, perusing wall sockets and extension cords, arguing over the vital necessity of this tool or that we really do need one of these!
And we worked. And worked. We tore it down and slowly, slowly built it back up. We watched our home blossom and grow before our very eyes. One gorgeous floor after the next, one glossy kitchen cabinet after the next, one wall satiny smooth and glowing after the next. We counted down the dwindling days as clothes were folded and pushed into suitcases; we checked off the boxes on our calendars as each book was dusted off and lovingly placed inside a carton; we stopped grocery shopping, much to the son’s chagrin, in order to eat all the food out of the refrigerator and freezer, supplementing our diet much too often with pizza, kabobs, sandwiches from the corner bakery and fast food – yes, fast food – all washed down with cola, beer and many bottles of wine. Time pressed, punctuated by bumps in the road, glitches in the plans, a leak here, a broken something there, but on we pushed, fast and furious. Three weeks then two weeks then one as we watched the plumber install shower and tub, the sink still standing alone and forlorn in the middle of the livingroom floor surrounded by tool chests and paint cans and cabinets still to be installed. We had become accustomed to being besmudged and besmeared with plaster dust and wood dust, sticky with paint and glue. We no longer had the time nor the luxury for arguments and bickering and finger pointing, we just had to get the job done.
And Marty…poor Marty. After his brush with death, his surgery and hospitalization, poor little Marty was feeling the anguish as the cartons piled up around him and began closing in. He lay silently all day, curled up into a tight little ball in his very own poof, hunkered down and defending his territory; evenings he sought the solace of his maman’s arms, hopping up and claiming ruling status as I kerplopped into my corner of the sofa, collapsing after an arduous, exhausting day. But on we trudged, slogging on day after day, the boxes piling up ever higher until that fateful morning, that momentous ring of the doorbell when the moving men arrived.
Yes, we have moved. Two long stressful days of watching men both burly and lanky lift and haul out cartons, manhandle my best coats and favorite blouses and skirts, wrap up paintings and furniture and push it all out the window, place it precariously on the platform to be lowered down and shoved in the vans. And two days of them huffing and puffing up four flights of stairs balancing boxes on their shoulders and dumping them willy-nilly throughout the much-too-tiny new space. And we have moved, and now find ourselves neck deep in our belongings, trying desperately to find a place for everything and everything in its place. We have made a tiny little oasis of our bed and lie luxuriously late into the morning, making the best of the calm and the quiet, until Marty comes to snuffle and snort at the door. And then we get back to it again.
Not yet quite ready to unveil the spectacle, our new home, not until the countertop is cleared, the livingroom floor walkable, the bedroom and office presentable to curious eyes. Until then, we toy with the idea of simply leaving everything as is, piled haphazardly wherever it just happens to have been dropped, living as bohemians, hippies, or just two crazy old people who live packed in among their every belonging.
And of course, we now are familiar with all of the local Happy Hour spots. Methinks we will become habitués.