Thursday, September 20, 2012

I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I've got whozits and whatzits galore

Moving can teach you a lot of things. Other than maybe a birth or death, it's one of the most stressful events imaginable. It can be a real test, not only of romantic and familial relationships but also (in my case)of the tensile strength of a frayed bungee cord strung around a Billy bookcase inside my dad's Hyundai. But so far, we've survived. Almost no disagreements, seamless blending of schedules, minimal amount of things broken in transit.

We moved in 2 weeks ago and slowly the place is looking less like an episode of "Hoarders: Buried Alive" and more like the IKEA showroom it was born to be. Or at least the "after" of a milder episode of "Trading Spaces". It's The Boy's first place and my first time not either living alone or with someone who shares my last name so it's been an adjustment for sure. But we're a good team. He takes out the garbage, I do most of the cooking. He does the laundry, I fold it. He buys gummi worms instead of the tomatoes and pasta I sent him out for, I make gummi worm primavera. Win-win all around.

The one thing that has surprised us though.. is how damn much stuff we own. Like.. it's unreal, yo. I came from a 660 sq. ft. apartment and he came from a 120 sq. ft room. And yet together we have a staggering 5000 sq ft of stuff*.

I remember when I first moved into my place I did so with just two trips in a panel van. And one of those loads was just my family's stuff that they'd graciously given me- a sectional couch, beanbag chair, tables, curtains, chairs, etc. So, basically, one van's worth was all it took to take everything that belonged to me to my new apartment. I was the modern-day equivalent of a hobo with his bindle. Fast forward 2 years or so and for the two of us it took two loads in a 17-FOOT TRUCK and even then we weren't done with it all. It took a whole other DAY of moving things back and forth in the aforementioned Hyundai before we were even close. The only reason we finished moving when we did is because we literally had to hand the keys back to my landlord when the weekend was done. Otherwise I'd still be moving the occasional colander and Visa statement over by hand.

Our "basement" (read: crawlspace/dungeon/Miss Trunchbull's "chokey") was sort of a non-starter when we first looked at the place. I was the only one who could stand fully erect in it, it tended to get a little damp when it rained or the snow thawed, and it was completely unfinished, home to only our furnace and a few cans of paint (and two hula hoops but that's neither here nor there). "We'll put a few boxes in the basement," we reasoned, "if it turns out we need the space." Well, there are no fewer than 10 boxes down there now, as well as a microwave stand, three tables, 6 chairs, a dress rack with winter coats on it and a desk. I looked at a house tour on Apartment Therapy where the owners talked about their "Jesus Room", so nicknamed because it died for the sins of all the other rooms. This is absolutely true of the crawlspace and every time I shovel something else into its depths I shake my head and say a silent prayer for all it's done so the rest of the house may live in peace.

So, now we're down to the last ten boxes or so and this is where fun goes to die. I affectionately call them the "bullshit boxes" and they're full to the brim with nonsense. Inside jokes, loose buttons, foreign currency, post-it notes, fancy bookmarks, old receipts, nonsense, bullshit, nonsense. They are my second-least favourite things in the WORLD right now (after coriander) and I groan every time I look at them. I'm thisclose to just putting them down in the basement and waving the white flag but I feel like I'm SOCLOSE to being organized. I have a "thing" for tiny houses and even though mine, at 1000 sq ft, doesn't really count, I feel like they inspire me to do so much with what I have. This house was a do-over, a chance to fix the design laziness I experienced with my last apartment. And we can't really make it look the way we want it to without throwing out some stuff. As an emotional packrat, this terrifies me, but it's also empowering. How much can I live without? How much can I give away without it even affecting me? How much do I need to be happy? Probably much less than I think I do.

So we unpack and we divide, and we give away and we cull. And little by little, it's becoming a place owned by a nerdy couple with a penchant for fart jokes and not by dozens of boxes of nonsense, bullshit, nonsense.

*math done by Theatre grad. May not be accurate.

Friday, September 7, 2012

They've Made a Huge Mistake

My and my sister's latest game of "Guess Who Got Divorced?" lasted 3 rounds and 28 seconds.

The questions were "Are they both American?" (no.) "Is one of them Canadian?" (yes.) Will I be gutted? (yes.)


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye to you

Last night we took my friend's advice and toasted my old apartment. It was pouring rain and my (admittedly ill-thought-out but readily available post-move-in) moccasins were soaked down to their tassels. Shaking ourselves off in the alley beside the building we noted that my impossibly-heavy filing cabinet and grandfather-crafted chest of drawers had been taken from outside the old place, which was comforting. I love the idea of purging my stuff but I'm always a little reticent to do it. It makes it easier if I can tell myself that someone else will get some use out of what I threw away. The same can't be said for the futon. We said a silent prayer for all the abandoned mattresses and couches that were now being soaked by the near-constant downpour.

Everything seemed a bit solemn, even things that had no real significance - the Boy propping his backpack up in the foyer like he'd done a hundred times before, removing our shoes so as not to get the ancient floor (even more) dirty- but I already felt ready to say goodbye. Inside The Boy's backpack were a drink apiece, to be sipped as we settled down on the floor of the apartment to give it a proper send-off. And I don't care if it was silly or sentimental; it was just what I needed.

I didn't really cry, just sighed a bit and maybe, MAYBE I misted up a little when I thought of never coming back. I called it a wake but The Boy disagreed.

"Either way, that's not true. Someone's moving in here, they'll make memories, the place lives on. And you're moving on, too. You're not dead, your stories will continue. It's not a goodbye. It's just the next step."

Which, okay. Yeah. But your first anything will always have a place in your heart, I think. And that's okay. I wouldn't want it any other way. But there are so many memories waiting to be made in our house, so many things I can do with the place we bought. And I feel this now when I say those words, instead of just feeling I *should* say them, that I should be only cheery, only hopeful. I realize now that being sad about my past doesn't mean I'm not excited for my future. It's just another reminder that time continues forward and there's nothing you can do about it. Which is kind of heavy, y'know. So it deserves an adult beverage and a few silly cell phone photos to commemorate it.
I padded around the creaky floorboards for another 15 minutes, took the aforementioned silly cell phone photos, left a secret note for the future inhabitants (shhh!) and then locked the door for the very last time. As we walked past the large stone alcoves out front, we saw our last "good luck pug" (there were 5 in the building when I lived there). The perfect reminder that good things are on their way. Obvious harbingers can't be ignored - especially when they have such perfect wrinkles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our House is a Very Very Very Fine House

I had typed up an entry all about moving from my first apartment into a new house with my boyfriend. And oh, what an entry it was, kids. Full of affirmations of strength, bold proclamations, personal insights – I even threw a “lone wolf/wolf pack” metaphor in there for colour. It was a fine example of how accomplished, excited and motivated I felt in the days leading up to my move.

And then I thought about my old apartment last night and burst into tears.

The move was challenging, as moves can be. I am not an organized individual by any means, and moving a house vs. moving a room is a whoooole different pack of wolves (yes! Still managed a wolf reference! *self-high five*). We started on Saturday, in high spirits, just my mom, sister, dad and me, putting together IKEA furniture, eatin’ subs, confident in our knowledge that we were Ahead Of The Game. Fast forward to Sunday at 3:30 when we can pick up the truck and begin our move in earnest, (Pro Tip: Never move on Labour Day. Even if you have to. Just Don’t.) and I am instantly in over my head. The delivery guys for my cable and my mattress *both* come early (which is actually a statistical impossibility, thanks for wondering), and that starts us off on a chaotic foot. By Sunday’s sundown all the big stuff has been moved but half my apartment is left behind due to space/time/lack of light and I’ve now got an apartment full of crap and a house full of crap and no idea how the hell I’m going to finish this job or how I acquired said crap.

Monday comes and with it, another 6 hour moving day, (thank GOD for the world’s most understanding families). Labour day is full of just that, along with cupcakes, Indian food, broken glass and impossibly heavy futons (which gets left behind along with my, I’m just assuming here based on weight, made-of-plutonium filing cabinet). There’s so much running around and frantic last minute cleaning and sweeping that I don’t even really get a moment to process it all. My sister and dad leave my old apartment last, telling me that they said goodbye to the ol’ girl for me. I thank them, send them both home and hook up the tv/dvd player so we can get reacquainted with those maddest of men – Mad Men.

Scandalous 1960s doings a-transpire, the credits roll and we get ready to go to bed. And then – bam. I’m bawling. Full-on, shoulder shaking sobs are wracking my body as my boyfriend looks on, afraid to touch me lest he catch what’s suddenly infected me. I can’t stop thinking of my poor abandoned (and apparently anthropomorphic) apartment, empty and alone. I take it a step further, thinking of how it personifies my independence, how it’s the first place I could really call my own, how I could waste my time there and not clean or cook or, let’s be honest, wear pants and no one would care. And now it’s gone. I was a renter. I was an Urban Girl on the Go ™ who had no time for mortgages or home repair – I was too busy being fabulous. And okay, I know no one really saw me like that but Oh My God, I can’t hear that logic because I’m too busy crying all the available tears.

The Boy and I talked a lot about the cost of moving in together, what we’d need for the house, the timing, the logistics, but with only one month to get it all together, we didn’t really talk about the emotional side of things. We sort of swept it under the rug and focused on what needed to be done, signed, bought or borrowed. Now that that’s pretty much over with, all we’re left with is our feelings on the matter and 137 hastily-filled boxes. He admitted saying goodbye to his dog left him feeling teary and heartbroken. I admitted that the idea of the “single girl” part of my life being over left me breathless with worry. We love our little house but, as the philosophers Semisonic observed, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

I told a coworker about my dilemma and she suggested I grab a drink, make my way over to the place one last time and give the old girl a proper toasting off. I think that’s a fine idea, and am a total proponent of marking big events with little rituals so I think this will help. So for now, consider this a place marker- if I ever claim to be together or pragmatic in the future, remind me that I, as a grown-ass woman once stood alone in an empty apartment, weeping softly and drinking a Strongbow, toasting the demise of our brick-and-flesh union.

A wolf would shake its head in disgust at the thought. I think I'm more of a "pug" person.