Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HALLELUJAH! I'M a BUM! [again]

Well, I went, I saw, I was beaten into submission.

When the previously agreed number of weeks were over, I was politely informed that my services were no longer needed, even though the work was nowhere near done. This happens a lot--it was one of the things that helped me make my peace with the business leaving me [behind]. I had a whole bunch of notes I'd given to wrap the thing up, and I was told that I had to trust the guys on the floor and the Grand High Poohbahs [who had paid pretty much ZERO attention to the whole project--another reason I was allowed to have it, I suppose] would take care of everything from here on in. So I packed up, hopped in the car, and headed home.

Where complete chaos awaited me.

In the weeks since zipping off to the Middle East, I had completely forgotten the state of half- packedness I had left things in. "Half-packed" might be generous. I had the weekend to finish up, and I did it in a mad rush: the moving van came on Monday. I didn't make it, needless to say, and the last boxes no longer had legible [or sensible] labels listing the contents: it was more like "what will fit, what do I still have around to cushion things?" In short, it was mayhem.

Considering how long I had been moaning about being a month or so behind schedule, the fact that I wound up only a day or so behind was really an accomplishment. It certainly took long enough. What I would have done if I had still been juggling two jobs that required me to be away from home, I have no idea.

As it was, things had been more or less on auto-pilot on the one job I did have, and all I had been doing was commuting out to the Middle East once a week for a day or two to monitor progress and catch problems before they became Problems with a capital “P.” It involved lots of flexibility, which isn’t really my strong suit, and careful attention to priorities, as we were throwing something overboard on almost every visit—it becomes very important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. By the end, we were pretty much down to baby and a few drops of moisture. Ideas meet reality—and reality wins hands-down every time. At least in my experience. Those commuting weeks looked like this:

First I managed to get the studio knocked down, and then tackled the storage closet, where I had thrown half of the things I didn’t want to deal with two years ago. It was kind of overwhelming how much I had not wanted to deal with two years ago: things I had forgotten I owned or had taken before leaving home, and things I had forgotten I ever wanted. Some legal documents pertaining to a house I no longer owned, for instance…

There was a nasty dance around my packing boxes. I really wanted to buy more boxes like the ones I had used to move into my house twenty-odd years ago, and wound up going with the closest approximation, which was 60 boxes that were only an inch or so bigger in two of three dimensions. It turned out that those critical inches made the boxes unbearably heavy when filled with books—unbearably heavy even when cut down to 2/3 their height and filled with books. In short, I should have bought the tiny boxes they said were for books. I wanted to exchange them, since I had only opened one, and the salesman had said that of course they would take any unused boxes back; but in the meantime, I had “misplaced” the receipt.

No receipt, no exchange. This was not in a crime-ridden urban neighborhood, this was in Nowheresville. I could give him the credit card I had used, he could link it to the purchase, in theory it would be easy. But in fact they refused to budge: no tickee, no shirtee, as the saying used to go. So I got to ruin the boxes I had bought by cutting them all down.

I thought I could have wrapped up the bedroom in no time, even though it also contained my office: computer, file cabinets, copier, etc. It turned into a long-distance run, and that still left the front porch [where I had stashed the other half of the things I hadn’t wanted to deal with two years ago] and the kitchen and bathroom. Then I dropped everything, drove off into the sunset, pulled up in the fabled Near-Metropolis, wore beige, and smiled a lot. Those two weeks, for all the dread boredom of truckling to people with power and no clue, went by in a flash...

After getting home at last, I spent a day packing the kitchen, and it was the day before the movers came. The Goat arrived that night, on his second weekend off-duty, and left before the moving truck could do anything to that all-important sports car of his in my driveway. I did enjoy the hours in between his arrival and his departure, especially a few of those hours in particular, but I do wish he had not departed with such speed—I could have used the help. As it was, I was frantically packing up kitchen things right up until the moment the truck doors were closed, and didn’t finish at that.

At least most of the kitchen went off with the load. Life should have been simple from there on, but it wasn’t. I had a few things I had to drop off at a place almost on our route where my sister could pick them up and take them up to my mother’s. Almost on our route. That took some time. Then we had to get back on our route [and our two locations were just far enough away from the Mass Pike that driving down and taking it makes no sense] and head west.

First stop: the Goat’s house. It turned out that in spite of having been given an explicit list of what was getting off where, two of the big things we were dropping off at the Goat’s weren’t on the back of the truck. Two were, but two weren’t. I made everyone’s day by saying that we were going to have to come back up to the school once we dropped my stuff in town, which led to near-mutiny; although the afternoon was yet young, it was clear that we had hours of unloading to do at my place, and tacking another drive and unload onto it was pushing the guys’ buttons as well as their limits.

Second stop: my new place: two rooms upstairs in the house of one of the Goat’s colleagues. Two big rooms, and it turned out that I actually had an attic space off one of those rooms I could fill with stuff that wanted to go into “storage.” It took hours to get everything off the truck; it took superhuman strength to get some of the things up those stairs, and we took all the lawn clippings and dropped pine needles and all the other detritus straight up the stairs with us. By the time everything was upstairs, there was barely enough room to walk in and out of the two rooms, and the attic space had long since been barricaded off.

It got darker all the time. Not so much the hour--the approach of the Mother of All Thunderstorms. We hustled the last things out of the truck; I discovered that there were no overhead lights anywhere in my new apartment—the guys were unloading stuff in the gloom, and it was getting darker. And it started to rain. Then to pour. By the time I dug out one of the lamps I had brought down in the car, it was really too late: we were never going to get back up the hill if we spent any time putting anything back together. So my office equipment [tables, files, cabinets] were just stacked in pieces where the finished items would eventually go.

Last stop. We managed to make the drive back up the hill in the pouring rain with only minor problems. I had to move most of the Goat’s furniture out of the way to make room for the stuff I was loaning him, and his place looked almost as much like a furniture showroom as mine did like furniture storage.

Then I signed an invoice and a check, and around 9 pm the guys in the truck took off back to Nowheresville. They had been on the job since before 7:30 that morning, and I have never seen three guys who had earned their money as much as they did. The tip put the nail in the coffin of an “affordable move” but I really had no choice. When I think that I had at one point thought of doing it myself with a couple of hired hands for packing and unpacking the truck, all I could do was shudder and murmur “Thank you.” I have rarely been as happy to pay for anything. The Goat got back the next day and we wrestled his living room back into submission. It actually looked pretty nice, though it was now as full as it had been spare before I got involved. Let this be a warning to you—never hire me if what you want is a simple solution.

Oh, well
. Another day, another dollar. Now we get to see what it’s like with seven days of semi-drama a week rather than two.

Now I am camping out in the Goat's tiny houselet on campus, spending a lot of time smiling at people whose names and offices I should remember, and generally becoming wallpaper to people who used to show a morbid curiosity in my presence--I have never had the guts to ask the Goat how much time went by between the last appearance of the Regular Boy Friend [RBF] and my first appearance. I am definitely in the way in his house, but it is going to be a week at least before I can clear enough space to put the mattress down in the bedroom in my house, so we are just smiling our way through it. We'll see what happens. So far the Goat is being the perfect host, assuring me that he was completely unprepared for how happy it makes him to have me around 24/7, without having to wait for the weekend and having to pack everything into a day and a half.

There are definitely adjustments. Back when I was just showing up for the weekend, we ran off to do the deeds, usually to his "away" place, where there is marginally more going on and, more to the point, where the school isn't. However, the lack of weekend rush has also meant that I have to wait patiently for his nights off for anything to "happen." Nothing new there, and at least I am not driving across what feels like [but isn't] vast tracts of desert to get to him. I just show up for lunch and dinner after mud-wrestling with the nightmare that are my "two little rooms." I noted with a rush of mixed emotions that I was now being introduced as his partner. That's a step forward, I guess. It may also explain why no one is complaining about the number of meals I eat on campus. Off-campus, we have been gorging on sweet corn and tomatoes and generally glorying in the bounty that comes pouring off the vines just before the frost...

Hang in there, all.
Things will change.
They may change for the worse, but they will change.

No comments:

Post a Comment