Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Walk in the Park

Walking with Lucia in New York is quite the experience. Strangers wave and smile; they nudge each other and point; they mutter “Cute” as they walk past. “Those are the nicest toes I’ve seen all day,” a white-haired lady with a cane announced on Broadway and 73rd yesterday, pointing at Lucia’s bare babyfeet. “She’s like a little doll!” a little girl observed to her mother outside Gray’s Papaya today, where I may have been eating a hot dog on the corner while waiting for the light to change. Indeed. A little doll who allowed us a mere four hours of sleep last night—but I digress.

Despite a dramatic appearance of Fusskins this morning, Lucia and I had a lovely afternoon. It was a gorgeous day—low seventies, no humidity, just blue sky and sun. We walked along 72nd Street from Riverside Boulevard to Central Park and entered the park through Strawberry Fields; we wound our way to the bandshell and took in the city sights. There was a man wearing black hotpants and rollerblades taking a quick break from his flamboyant roller-dancing to play “La Cucaracha” on a piano. (These freestanding pianos are apparently a citywide thing this summer—this is the fourth I’ve seen.) Not far from the piano tinkling, there was a fantastic band playing—trumpet, trombone, banjo, bass—and I took Lucia out of her stroller to dance in my lap. She was captivated by the music, all smiles, happily standing and jumping and, eventually, joining in with some raptor cries. We walked down to Bethesda Fountain and looked at rowboats on the lake; two Japanese girls near us started whispering “Kawaii! Kawaii!” to each other and pointing at Lucia; one snapped a picture of her. Then we spread a blanket out on some grass and played for a while before heading home.

I can’t count the number of different languages I heard on our walk; and I can’t describe how enchanted Lucia was by the sights and sounds she took in, sitting straight up and leaning forward excitedly in her stroller. This was exactly the kind of afternoon I pictured whenever I imagined returning to the city. I felt like a tourist, looking around me wide-eyed at the things I once would have walked past without thinking—the Dakota; the pedicabs; hot dog carts—but with the contentment that comes from knowing I’m actually not a tourist at all, just a once-again New Yorker remembering why she loved it here in the first place. “Are you from New York?” a tourist with a map question asked me on the corner of 72nd and Central Park West. “Sort of,” I answered. I responded without thinking, not realizing right away that I could set aside the refrain of “I used to live here, but not anymore.” Next time someone asks me, I can just say yes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Unexpected Sunday

Sunday we’d planned to go to a farmers market on 77th Street, maybe go to Central Park afterwards, get something nice for lunch on the Upper West Side—just have a relaxing, fun, New York day.

Instead, at 4:30am, Andrew woke up in excruciating pain; he could barely stand up, and was covered in cold sweat. He would have been crying out in pain had the baby not been asleep. At 6am, we rushed downstairs and put him in a taxi to the ER; Lucia and I followed by foot. When we arrived, Andrew was hooked up to an I.V. delivering pain medication—he had kidney stones. Fortunately, after a few hours, he was fine, and he was home by noon. He said he’d been checked in right before two guys who’s OD’ed, and they released him because they were expecting a large influx thanks to the Gay Pride Parade. The whole ER was swarming with police. Ah, New York!

What an awful experience—and one that solidifies my already-vehement belief in never going even one day without health insurance. I may be the world’s most cautious person when it comes to having insurance, certain that broken legs and appendicitis will occur during whatever gaps in coverage others may be tempted just to weather. So we don’t tempt fate; never have. It’s just too scary. Broken legs? Appendicitis? No—but kidney stones. You just can’t plan these things.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry about insurance—the week Andrew had between jobs would have been covered by retroactive COBRA had the need arose, and his new plan started on his first day of work. He got no hassle at the hospital for not yet having his card, and he left without paying a thing.

He's back to normal now, none the worse for wear, back at work as though nothing ever happened.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Home in Park Slope


After a week of dashing around Brooklyn, we’ve finally found a home; we signed the lease on Friday. It is in Park Slope, just a few blocks from where I used to live, a parlor-level, high-ceilinged apartment in a beautiful brownstone just off of 5th Avenue. It is an ideal place for us: two light-filled, good-sized bedrooms, big kitchen and dining room, character-ful living room, even a small extra room off the hallway whose use we are currently planning.

It was a difficult choice at the end. We’d also found a garden-level apartment on a prime block in Carroll Gardens, another wonderful Brooklyn neighborhood, with a landscaped, private garden in the back in which we could plant vegetables—and in which there was a fig tree. Andrew had found the apartment through a co-worker—it’s not the kind of place that one finds the usual way—and the owners, an Italian couple, offered it to us after a quick meeting without so much as a credit check. But the apartment was dark, as garden-level places are, and we would have had to walk through what would be the baby’s room to get to our bedroom; and so, despite the amazing garden, we chose light and a better floor plan.

Though we’d chosen the Park Slope apartment, it took a bit of convincing for the landlady to choose us. She Googled us after the broker gave her our application, and found this blog—which she said played a role in her decision to have us. Friday afternoon all three of us—Andrew, me, Lucia—met with her, and everything went okay, and we can look forward now to enjoying the lovely apartment in just a few weeks. We’re very excited. We’ll be on the Upper West Side until August 1, and then our Brooklyn life will begin.

It’s such a relief to be able to relax now and enjoy our time here, the apartment search behind us. Today we spent some time walking near the Hudson, looking over our shoulders at the West Side skyline as we made our way out on Pier 1, people-watching and taking in the New Yorkiness of it all: two pianos set up at the end of the pier, at which passersby could sit and play a song; more thousand-dollar strollers than we could count; a woman on a yoga mat doing sun salutations in the midst of the crowds; and our baby, munching on a crispy rice Mum-Mum, looking both happy and sophisticatedly blasé in her new city home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Letter to Lucia: 8 Months

It’s a belated letter, but a letter nonetheless; when you turned eight months old, we were computerless, having just overseen the packing up of our house in Roseville. For two days you had nowhere to sit except on our laps or in your stroller, as we watched all of our furniture and things being packed and loaded into a truck headed East. You hated the sound of packing tape being spooled out, erupting into hysterical cries each time you heard it, so you and I spent a good amount of time walking around the neighborhood and on the nearby hiking trail, escaping the noise.

But now here you are, eight months old and a true city girl. We have been amazed at your adaptability and calm during these hectic past few days. You slept the whole flight over, and, after a very fussy and confused first day, have gotten right back onto your regular schedule and have been sleeping better than ever. You seem to love New York—you love walking around in your new umbrella stroller, and you sometimes prop yourself up on your elbows so you can peer around the edges. You’re unfazed by the subway—not scared at all by the noise and crowds—and you simply look around at everyone, sometimes staring, which you will soon learn you’re not supposed to do in New York. Fortunately you’re cute enough to get away with it.

You are trying desperately to crawl, and I thought for certain you’d crawl in Roseville; but now I think you’ll be crawling very soon here in Trump Place. You manage to get from sitting into a half-crawling position, but one leg always seems to get in the way. You still manage to get where you want to go, however, by scooting on your little bottom and pulling yourself with your hands to whatever is enticing you—like the knobs on our dresser drawers.

Our new-food introductions have stalled because I haven’t been able to make anything lately, and we’re definitely in a baby-food rut. Just before we left California, I pureed some peaches from the farmer’s market so you could have a taste of a real California peach—you tasted it, frowned, gagged, took another bite at my coaxing, gagged again, and then vomited dramatically, the first time in months and months you’ve actually done that. I felt horrible, and that was the end of the peach experiment.

Apartment-hunting here is much different with you in the picture; our requirements are so much different than they once were, the required size of the apartment suddenly no longer one-bedroom but two. After seeing a lovely apartment that we would have snapped up were we only a couple, we sometimes say in mock exasperation, “That baby!” But we don’t really mean it. It is incredibly fun to have you with us in the city we love, and I am so anxious to have our home in place so we can start exploring and taking advantage of all the things we wanted to return to so desperately.

We did have one city-casualty so far: Sophie the Giraffe, your $20 chew toy, managed to escape from your stroller somewhere in Brooklyn yesterday. She is off now on her own city adventure. You don’t seem to miss her; but I feel bad. Lesson learned—loose toys don’t last for long in a city of curbs and subway steps and acrobatically kicking babies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Tapping My Social Network"

Hello, social network. My social-media-savvy husband suggested in an enthusiastic rush last night that we should "tap our social network" to try to find a NYC apartment instead of going about this in the traditional way. I cringed, of course, but agreed to "tap" what social network I had, which probably amounts to, oh, about ten blog readers.

So, my New York readers: if you have any leads on 2-bedroom apartments (or 1+ den) in brownstone Brooklyn at $3,000/month max., let me know. You have in your hands the power to transform my skepticism/annoyance at "social networking" forever.

Our New York Life

We made it. After a successful redeye Wednesday night—Lucia slept the whole way!—we arrived in NYC a bit overburdened and tired but happy and excited. We have not, however, yet found the New York life we’ve been waiting for. Andrew had arranged for a car to meet us at JFK; a driver with our name on a sign greeted us in baggage claim, and a huge black Escalade drove us into the city. (We had Lucia’s carseat with us.) A car and driver, an Escalade, our name on a sign—this certainly isn’t our New York life (but it was blessedly easy and convenient with our baby and our bags). Our destination: Trump Place, a huge luxury apartment building overlooking the Hudson on the Upper West Side, where the doormen greeted us as we dragged our stuff through the marble lobby to our temporary corporate housing. A doorman, a luxury building, a marble lobby—this isn’t our New York life either; it was arranged for us before we arrived. Our temporary quarters are perfectly comfortable, with four forks and four plates and a measuring cup, colander, Pyrex baking dish, sauce pot, and cutting board, and the view from our windows—all lit-up high-rises, a true city view—is lovely. But all this is just for now. It isn’t what we came for.

We’ve begun searching for apartments, exclusively in brownstone Brooklyn, and it’s when we’re wandering the streets of Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill and Prospect Heights do we feel it—here it is! This is it! This is the New York life we left behind, and the one we’re eager to resume. We haven’t found a place yet, but we’ve been here only four days, so I’m trying to be patient. I’m just so ready for it all to begin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The California Dream (Farewell, California)


The movers come tomorrow to pack up our California life, and so I will post my final California missive tonight. It feels exceedingly strange to have so little time left but have our house remain more or less intact—as though leaving is something far off, abstract, instead of imminent. My next post will be dispatched from New York City. I’m sure there will be much to report.


***


Before moving to California in 2007, I’d never been here. And so I had in my mind only a fabricated highlight reel of what California was: L.A., the Pacific coast, hilly San Francisco, vineyards. Movie stars, tech prodigies, surfers. I imagined people said things like “Dude, I’m pumped” and ate a lot of bean sprouts. Without any facts to go on, I relied on the myth, imagining California to be a place where I’d feel a particular kind of freedom, or privilege, a place that promised something, though it wasn’t exactly clear what. I also imagined myself not quite fitting in—a dark-haired, bookish, sun-fearing East Coast type sticking out among bikinis and blondeness. I knew nothing about the real California, had never heard of places like Glen Ellen or Bodega Bay. I readily admit my ignorance. Even three years ago, I knew full well that the California in my mind was a Hollywood concoction, a stereotype, but I didn’t yet have any real images to replace the myth.

And so when we arrived that July in 2007, in the midst of a heat wave, and spent a couple of nights in the MDPOE, and saw that Andrew’s office was in an office park, and then found a nondescript studio apartment in the hideous Citrus Heights, and had to sleep on an air mattress for a month, and and and—the myth exploded. We’ve since become more or less used to office parks and strip-mall suburbs; but at that point, having left Spain just two weeks earlier, it seemed like we’d washed up on some desperate, awful shore. The reality of our California immediately, violently, punctured the dream. Of course, we went on to settle in, finding places we love, learning to look past all the awfulness to find the sublime. But it took a while.

Fortunately (I can say that, since we’re leaving), we had a while. And I wonder now what it’s like for those who do not. I see people who I sense have come to California looking for the dream—and I see the myth they’re seeking colliding with the reality. I’ve seen middle-aged convertible-driving men who’ve strayed too far from Napa, looking lost in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-80 by the outlets in Vacaville. Last week I saw a young guy in a convertible, blasting “California Girls” as he inched along in a line of cars in a shopping plaza, far from the beach he seemed to be seeking but not realizing yet that he should turn the radio down. I’ve seen a tanned, good-looking couple in a shining Ferrari, going through a Jack-in-the-Box drive-through in a not-so-nice part of Roseville. Three days ago I actually saw someone panning for gold by a Roseville creek. Surely these people were seeking—believing in—some other California.

I can see them on their journey West—flying down desert highways with their radios turned up, “Whoo-hoo!”-ing at regular intervals, ecstatic at the freedom, sunshine, and happiness that California promises, just ahead. I can see them fist-pumping the air as they see signs for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara (I have no idea what signs one would actually see on a desert highway heading West; bear with me here), certain that whatever troubles they’ve left behind will be nothing but distant memories as soon as they reach the Golden State. Isn’t that what California promises? A blank slate, an unfettered mind, the chance to strike gold, get discovered, see your name in lights—or at least the chance to find a truer, simpler version of yourself, out there in all that sky and sun and ocean?

And then I see them merging onto a superhighway, exiting at a place like Roseville, and finding themselves—hair windblown, cheeks flushed with anticipation—lost in a sea of strip malls, treeless housing developments, foreclosures, and SUVs. Instead of soul-stirring sunshine, there’s relentless 110-degree heat; and the only ocean in sight is a sea of big-box stores. There they are in their convertibles—poor dreamers—wondering what went wrong, what turn they missed, not realizing that the gems of California take work to discover, just like any other place. There are beautiful things, beautiful places, but getting there usually isn’t pretty. California is not some golden paradise; stars and fortunes are made here, surely, but quotidian life looks the same—worse, perhaps, for some people, in the wreckage of the housing bubble, and in the bloated, unwise overdevelopment of cookie-cutter homes with highway views—as it does in Ohio, or Pennsylvania.

The myth of California is that it provides transformation; escape; bubbly happiness. But for me, real California does not live up to the dream—and I say this as a person who really does love certain things and places about it, a person who, over three years, ultimately had a pretty good run. Do other people feel this way about other myth-bearing places, ones that have stolen my heart, New York, Paris, Barcelona—let down, disappointed, disillusioned?

Perhaps California is everything it promises to a different kind of seeker. Perhaps the broad, open highways, the limitless space, inspire and enchant. But with less than two days now left in my California adventure, I feel a tingling excitement when I think of shop-lined streets and skyscrapers, honking taxis, crowded sidewalk cafes, blocks of Brooklyn brownstones, subway platforms moodily populated with street musicians, parks teeming with life. That’s the kind of promise that speaks to me. I won’t be “Whoo-hoo!”-ing out loud on the redeye Wednesday night. But you just may see me do a tiny, secret fist-pump when the wheels of the plane touch down at JFK.

Monday, June 14, 2010

California Goodbyes

Two days to go. We’ve been saying our goodbyes; Andrew to his coworkers on Friday, me to a couple of mom-friends on Thursday; the farmer’s market on Sunday; and, Saturday, to the Clarks.

Well, three of the Clarks; Beth and Rowan were at a wedding in Pennsylvania. But Nate, Henry, and Elena came up for lunch and World Cup viewing, one final afternoon together. Well, final for the West Coast, anyway. We know we’ll see them again once they move back to Pittsburgh (in 458 or so days). Still, it’s sad to say goodbye. We all moved to NorCal at roughly the same time, and we’ve been going out to lunch and journeying to San Francisco and watching sports and playing with kids together for three years now. And our group has grown—first it was four adults and two babies; then four adults and two toddlers; then four adults, two toddlers, and a newborn; and, finally, four adults, two toddlers, a baby, and another newborn. Our lunches out have gotten logistically complex, with high chairs and car seats and slings and carefully timed feedings and naps and trips to the bathroom, but this is all part of what makes them fun. It was a lucky, lucky thing to have such friends fortuitously move to the same random part of California that we did. These past three years would have been a lot less fun, and less bearable, without them. But we’re looking forward to more lunches (accompanied by fall foliage and snow, perhaps!) once they join us back East.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Godspeed, Vern!



We sold Vern—our 1997 Volvo—today. After two weeks of unfruitful Craigslist listings, Andrew learned of a local college that, every weekend, for a fee, opens their parking lot to used cars for sale. They arrange the showings, and then interested parties can contact the sellers to arrange a test drive and, ultimately, the sale. We delivered Vern at 6pm last night; got a call at 10pm; and, after Andrew met the buyers for a test drive at 7:30am today, Vern left us for good. The buyers were a couple and their sixteen-year-old son; they wanted a safe, cheap car for him. We’d priced Vern to sell—there are some flaws that need fixing, but I think they still got a deal.

We’re sad to see him go. He was with us for all three years of our California life, taking us on countless road trips, giving us our first taste of car ownership; we brought Lucia home from the hospital in Vern. He was a good car, bearing his original bumper sticker—“THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT IS NEITHER”—with amusement and grace. I relearned to drive in Vern; once terrified of getting on the highway, now I merely dislike it. And Vern’s trunk was filled with what I consider good evidence of our California spirit—a picnic blanket, a field guide, binoculars, and guidebooks and maps for wine country, Route 1, Tahoe, and San Francisco.

Vern is a California car; it’s right to let him go, send him on to new adventures. But we will miss him. Godspeed, Vern!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Return

This is the first time I’ve ever returned to a place I’d left. All the other big moves in my life—to college in Ohio; to Spain—had finite end dates, and when I left, that was that. I have, of course, visited Dayton, and, surely, will visit Spain. But it’s unlikely that I’ll live in either place again.

When I left New York, however, I was certain I’d return. It felt like a temporary departure, not a permanent one; even now, nearly five years later, it feels like I’ve only just left. And here we are, ready to return.

Whenever I tell anyone we’re returning to New York, I’m tempted to say “in a blaze of glory”—as though we’ve endured something, or overcome it, to get back. This isn’t at all the case. We left willingly, even happily, for greater things (Barcelona) and necessary things (first post-MBA job), and are now returning, quite naturally, for the next step in Andrew’s career and our family life. The “glory” that keeps popping into my head, however, does have a meaning that’s less dramatic and triumphant than the word would imply: I am returning to New York with a husband I adore and a daughter I cherish—so much more than I left with. All the early-New York, single-person floundering, for both of us, is over; we’ve found, incredibly, what so many people come to the city to find. And if this return also involves an amazing new job for Andrew, full of promise of great things to come, so much the better. (It would be lovely if I could return—triumphantly!—with published novel in hand; alas. But a completed novel, even an as-yet unpublished one, is, I suppose, more than I left with, too.)

The city has gone on without us these past five or so years; and though we’ve gone on without it, too, it has never been far from our minds. Only a few more days until we ease our way back into city life, merging carefully into the swiftly moving current, glancing into the rearview mirror only briefly as we accelerate and become part of the city once again.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last Thursday in CA

It’s our last Thursday in California—our first last day. For the past seven months or so, ever since Andrew went back to work and I started having whole days alone with Lucia, I’ve looked forward to Thursdays. Thursday meant there was just one day to go before the weekend, when Andrew would be around; Thursday meant our evening of shows (The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock), something to look forward to after long, often teary days with the baby. The days haven’t been teary for quite a while now, of course, but Thursday still always seems like a good day, just a short hop to the weekend. Who knows what Thursdays will look like now?

It probably says something about my current mindset—my anticipation of a brand-new life—that I foresee even ordinary weekdays as being somehow transformed by this move.

Andrew, too, is anticipating a life that will be all-new. Last night, coming home after an evening round of golf and dinner with some co-workers, he remarked on the beautiful night—the clear blue open sky, the nice drive home to our cozily lit house—and said it had struck him that no part of that night would be replicated in NYC.

It’s notable that he made this observation without having read my blog from yesterday, which said exactly the same thing. We are, eerily, becoming even more like-minded, if that’s even possible. Last week, as Andrew loaded some things into the car to take to Goodwill, I began having regrets about a particular item as soon as he carried it out the door. I planned to tell him I’d changed my mind about it—and then, lo and behold, there he was at the door, holding that very item in his hand. He, too, had had a change of heart.

Lucia is napping, and I’m here writing a somewhat disjointed blog post because I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself. There’s so much to do; yet there’s so little I actually have to do, since the movers are doing all the work. Aimless wandering may be what fills this weekend.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The End of a Certain Kind of Day

Yesterday, as I went about my day, I realized that in exactly one week I will no longer be doing almost anything in the same way, or at all. Here’s a brief recap.

Early in the morning, Andrew and I each got into one of our Volvos and took a twenty-minute drive on a seven-lane highway to bring our new Volvo in for a routine maintenance checkup. We returned to Roseville in one car. After dropping Andrew off at work, I drove home to our house, walked with the baby through the front door, and left the door open to get some fresh air. It was very quiet, save for the hammering from the roofers. I packed a bag and we drove to a friend’s house so Lucia could take her nap in peace. Later, we swam with my friend and her baby in her lovely backyard pool.

None of these things—none—will be possible a week from now. I had the same strange thought on Monday, in the evening, after my long day at the mall, when we brought Lucia’s saucer contraption outside so she could play while Andrew washed the cars with a hose in the driveway, as I looked on, sitting on a chair on the back porch, gazing at our enormous backyard with giant redwood.

Life is going to be incredibly different a week from today.

Monday, June 07, 2010

In Motion

Things are in motion, frenetically. We spent the weekend fielding calls and emails from Craigslist buyers, and sold our washer, refrigerator, desk, printer, canning jars, and dining room table and chairs. This was sad. Our house looks empty without that table (the appliances will stay with us until we move), and I was really sorry to sell it. But it’s just so big—completely unrealistic to imagine bringing it to NYC. And storing it until we buy a house would turn it into a really, really expensive table, and if/when we’re ready for a really, really expensive table, we’d like to pick one out purposefully.

We also returned all the stuff people have lent us, took a big carload to Goodwill, and sold a big box of books to a used bookstore. We’re very nearly down to the bare bones of our belongings—which is still a lot. But there are no more drawers or bags of “misc.,” which is an accomplishment; all the misc. has been discarded or otherwise organized, and it feels good to have things in order for once.

Of course, “in order” doesn’t mean “orderly,” and we’re truly in the midst of a mess. And then there’s the roof—I had to leave the house today, which was actually shaking from all the hammering, and spent about six hours wandering around the Fountains, a shopping plaza (where Lucia had a one-hour nap, thank goodness), and the mall. I was a bit frantic by the end of it, Lucia refused to take a second nap, and I headed home. Fortunately, after an hour more, the work was done for today. I’m going to spend some time tomorrow at a friend’s house instead of the mall.

Amidst all the chaos, both present and impending, is a thin, vibrating nerve of anticipation; I am getting so excited to start this new adventure. Everything will arrive and get unpacked eventually…The main thing now is to get ready, get out, and just get to the city. This may be the biggest move we’ve ever made.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Last Day of Normal

Today was, I think, the last day of Roseville-normal. Lucia got up at 7. Andrew came home for lunch and got home for good at 5:30. In between Lucia and I played, took a walk, bounced in her doorway bouncer.

Within the normalcy was a quickly escalating chaos; I juggled emails and phone calls from people interested in things I posted on Craigslist, and a couple of people came over to look at the car and the fridge. Andrew had to make an unexpected trip to the dermatologist (he’s fine), then had to rush back here with the car so someone could see it. Lucia can tell something’s up—she’s clingier than usual, wailing immediately as soon as I’m out of her sight. She’s usually fine playing on the floor blanket or in her saucer contraption while I putter around, but not the last couple of days.

Starting next week, everything’s different. Roofers are coming on Sunday to start replacing the roof, a project that was supposed to take place while we were in New Hampshire. Of course, we’ve now cancelled that trip, which means next week I might have to spend every day at the mall to get away from all the banging. (Our landlord was going to try to reschedule it—then landed unexpectedly in the hospital with a serious health problem; we obviously told him not to worry about the roof.) A moving guy will come on Thursday to assess our stuff. And then it all begins in earnest on the 15th.

I was flipping through the New Yorker today and realized that, for the first time in years, I’ll be able to go to all the art exhibitions I want to. Picasso at the Met—I’ll be there. Henri Cartier-Bresson at the MoMA and late-work Monet at the Gagosian—I’ll be there for those, too. I will be a New Yorker again in less than two weeks.

In the meantime—we have appliances to sell, a mountain of stuff to take to Goodwill, and an off-kilter, possibly-about-to-teethe baby to snuggle and soothe. Things are a little crazy.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Excavation Begins

Having moved to five different apartments/houses over the past five years, with two of those moves involving massive off-loadings of possessions, you’d think, by now, we’d be pretty much down to the bare bones of our belongings, with only the most vital and meaningful things remaining. Your thinking would be incorrect.

Now that we have an approximate departure date—it looks like we’ll be leaving around June 15—I’ve begun going through our things with a ruthless eye, trying to whittle a household down to an apartment’s worth of stuff. I’ve done this so many times, yet I still manage to be surprised by things that have, against all odds, stayed with me from NYC to Spain to California (with stints in my parents’ attic). For example, today I found three neat boxes of floppy disks, dating back fifteen years. What, pray tell, should I do with these? What’s on them? I have no idea. And because I have no idea, I can’t throw them away. So I’m going to start a box labeled DO NOT UNPACK, and take that box, at the first opportunity, back to my parents’ attic.

I found datebooks from 2000-2007, the original packaging for my iPod Mini, a selection of check registers dating back to 2001. (I kept the registers; but I’ll probably, ultimately, shred and pitch them.) I found two pairs of eyeglasses—one pair I wore in college—and a point-and-shoot camera I haven’t used since 2005. (The film roll is nearly new; just four pictures have been taken. But of what?) I have a selection of adapters and cords to electronics I may no longer own.

Some of this is easy. But the deeper into the cleaning-out I get, the harder it is, strangely, to keep pitching. Immersed in the (not-so) distant past, things start to take on meaning and weight. This is why I need to do this with someone else, someone who will shame me for considering saving things like ten-year-old check registers and then jolt me into realizing they must, yes, be thrown away.

A house into an apartment. We have ten rooms to go through here, several of which will not have equivalents in NYC. Time to take a deep breath and get started.