We are living in a gray area. And no, I don’t just mean the area surrounding my skull.
For the last several weeks we have been between homes. We have been sleeping at the condo, but there has been a gradual shift as we have carted boxes to the new house – clothes, kitchen gear (there’s lots!), books (ditto), crap from the drawer that has served as my desk. At some point, I figured, our center of gravity would shift north in, but it has not yet happened.
All of this makes me ponder: What is it which, other than Kim, once moved, makes the new place our home? The candidates:
· Coffee maker? We have one in each place, but we moved the grinder north.
· Computer? Mine is a laptop. Cable in both places.
· Electric toothbrush? I have manual backups (free from my dentist).
· Checkbook? Who writes checks anymore?
· Pills? Unfortunately, a viable candidate . . ..
On Saturday we decided to sleep over at our new house. Was this an act of commitment, moving us out of the gray area? Not exactly. After a day of unpacking, we were simply too tired for the hour’s drive back to the condo in Traverse City, so after a dinner, an anthology of leftovers and wine, we collapsed into bed. It was a good way to celebrate Kim’s birthday.
I drove back to the condo on Sunday for a realtor showing, and I hauled the stash of pills back to our new home. I also brought some expensive whiskey from a local source, Mammoth Distillery, in order to toast our new digs. But not so fast – we still don’t have an Occupancy Permit (the house is not done!), so whenever we spend the night, we feel like outlaws.
Unpacking is proving to be a challenge, and not simply because of the quantity of boxes, which we calculate to be well over 500. The problem is that Kim and I have different theories of unpacking. My approach is the same one I use on the top of my desk: Get everything I might need out in the open where I can see it. (This is the Compost Theory of Desking – stuff on the bottom is absorbed into the biome, where I don’t have to deal with it.) So I unpack a box and then leave the much of the stuff lying around while I collapse the box (a verysatisfying experience!) and go on to the next box. Kim has a peculiar idea that when you unpack a box, you put the stuff away where it belongs. (Recently, she confesses, she has gotten into the thrill of box-collapsing, but her real motivation still has to do with the creation of order and beauty, not destruction.)
One result of the different approaches, other than some harsh words, is that Kim has to think up things for me to do in order to direct my energies away from unpacking. So far this has included mounting the outdoor thermometer and placing boxes of Christmas ornaments on some shelves in the basement. I have also loaded up my sock drawer (currently over 40 pair, including abundant white socks that Kim says are good for dusting) and organized my colored t-shirts, attempting to pair them up with the outer shirts that they “go with” – a task that will no doubt be re-done in the future. I put all my extension cords into a separate box, apart from all the puzzling cables associated with former televisions. Yes, I do almost all of the box hauling and driving, but that’s usually done by mid-morning. I also have my books to deal with – far too many. I set myself a limit of one bookcase, consigning those that don’t fit to a recently emptied cardboard box destined for a future garage sale or, more likely, a donation to the library.
Packing and unpacking have revealed some surprises. On my side, other than the quantity of white socks, a dozen of which went straight to trash, I have also counted over 40 colored t-shirts and some 400 band-aids, a symptom of a mental illness I don’t want to contemplate too closely. I also found a box containing six (6) land line phones, a fact that brought great amusement to the grandkids when I told them via Skye.
Did I mention that Saturday was Kim’s birthday? Here’s the poem I wrote for the occasion:
is your birth-
day. You unwrap
each morning’s gift,
thank the party guests,
taste the cake, and
choose not to blow
out any candles
yet. So every birth-
day is a gift to me.