After spending the better part of the first two days of last week negotiating getting my car in to be repaired, on Wednesday I called the moving company. I’ve been trying not to bug them so restrain myself from calling every day. I know there’s nothing they can do to expedite things. They’ve done their part. Now it’s up to Mayflower and then the local mover on this end.
“Your stuff left Lacey today,” the scheduler told me, two weeks after it was picked up. It feels like a lot longer.
I packed the first box on June 3rd. Books and clothes. “Do the easy stuff first,” was the professional packing advice, “things you don’t use all the time and won’t miss if you don’t have them for awhile.” Another piece of packing advice was to limit the weight of the boxes to 35 pounds. I brought down the bathroom scale. Thirty-five pounds of books left a fair amount of empty space at the top. Hence, the clothes. I also packed surprises for myself, small precious objects padded by those clothes and wrapped in bubble wrap. I started a spreadsheet because I knew the minute something went into a box its location would be gone from my consciousness. It will help with the unpacking.
By early July, I was feeling seriously ungrounded. On July 12th, I flew to Massachusetts for four days to visit the Treehouse Community, which I had been seriously considering moving to for the last year because of its mixture of over-55s and families with adopted or foster kids. I absolutely could see myself there. And then my grandkids came back from two years abroad and I knew as soon as I saw them again that these were the kids whose lives I want to be part of as they grow up. So, the day after Labor Day, I flew to Minneapolis. After another four day trip, I had rented an apartment and was back in Seattle to do the final pack up and arrange for movers.
The bulk of my stuff and I had gone our separate ways on July 21st. I visited it occasionally in the storage space I’d rented on Aurora. The first week or two especially, the words kept repeating in my head: I want to go home. I want to go home. Going back to the condo to prep and paint was healing, yes, but it also extended the pulling off the bandaid time. While feeling deeply grateful for the temporary home my friends gave me, I longed every day for my own four walls. Another friend just sent me a card. The key to happiness, it reads, is a place to call your own. Yes.
And your very own stuff to put in it.
I’ve been here for two weeks, and my empathy for those who lose everything in some sort of a disaster has deepened. I keep trying to envision what it will be like when my things join me. I have taken measurements and there is masking tape on the floor to mark the spot each piece will occupy. The three large Christmas cactuses sit on three large flat-rate USPS boxes. A few precious artifacts are on one windowsill in the living room. I leave the spreadsheet of the box contents open on my laptop. I keep looking at it to convince myself that all these things really are on their way to me.
I think about their arrival almost all the time. It’s like when I was young and obsessing about some object of romantic desire, only now it’s the things that will, I devoutly hope, make this apartment a home that I am awaiting so impatiently. I’m in limbo, which is where it feels like I’ve been for a very long time.
I called the moving company again today. In response, I got an email from the scheduler:
“Currently the status says in transit with a estimated arrival to your destination agency on 10/27 (please note this date is not a confirmed date; it is estimated). Once your destination agency has received your goods they will let me know and then we can work on delivery.”
I know that once it all gets here there will be times when I will miss the unjumbled emptiness that’s here now. But, mostly, I just obsess.
Photos by Ruth Neuwald Falcon