I cried when I returned the cable box, modem, and router to Optimum. Is this what modern technology has driven us to? Distress over the loss of connection? Not for me, at least. The tears cathartically released pent up anticipation over each step of this move.
The inside of my head has felt like a robust pinball game. To Do list items carom around like dense silver balls, causing the dark recesses of my brain to light up once completed – or when another appears. I desperately work the flippers, jaw clenched, shoulders hunched, trying not to tilt.
The lack of Optimum equipment meant I’d no longer live in my apartment. The magnitude of that milestone made the whole panel of lights flash and dance like a Las Vegas marquis.
I’d only lived there for two years, and had no special attachment to the place, but it was home. It taught me a lot about the pros and cons of communal living. The proximity of people provided companionship and a measure of security that living alone does not. I reveled in blithely not having a care in the world about snow shoveling or other pesky home maintenance issues. But frustrations abounded. It seems not everyone shares my ardent respect for rules and property. Let’s just say that many of the pet owners felt someone else could clean up their pup’s poop. And the POOL CLOSES AT 10PM sign only applied to those who didn’t need to have a loud, drunken dip at 1 a.m. While the white noise of New York always soothed me when I lived there, the sounds here were more intrusive. The neighbor whose bedroom abutted mine snored so loudly that I felt we were sleeping together. Or lying restlessly awake, in my case. The large wolves two floors below me in our “pet free” building would sometimes bark for 40-minute stretches just as the late news began. And shortly before I moved out, a rugby team posing as a family moved in just below me, and practiced from around 3 p.m. until after the dogs stopped barking. Or so it sounded. I actually could not imagine what anybody could do to make such persistent, protracted noise in one place. Management apathetically offered to “reach out” but conjectured that the family was just likely “settling in.” I viewed it more as a cosmic exorcism. They were trying to make me so miserable living there that I’d be happy to leave. It worked.
Moving day dawned full of good omens – clear skies and an early crew. I showed them the few things that had to stay (original showerheads, bathroom wall mirrors). The crew chief assured me, “we’ll be done packing by one.” I left them with a box of munchkins for energy and got out of their way.
When I returned just before noon with four footlongs from Subway, they seemed neither appreciative nor anywhere near on track for the 1 p.m. target.
“Oh, no. We won’t finish packing until four,” said Jamie.
I looked around, uncertain as to what might have happened to my much-weeded stuff in the intervening three hours to increase the estimate by that same amount of time. I just gazed at him a bit askance and left again.
Returning at the appointed hour, Jamie now greeted me with a chuckle and a shrug. “Oh, no. We won’t finish packing until six. And we might run out of packing supplies!” He actually seemed amused.
I was unequivocally not. “Wait, what? What happened to one? To four? Your estimator was here for a thorough walk through not once but twice, and I got rid of even more things after that! How could both of you been so far off with your estimates?” This was, after all, their business. Their profession. The thing they do every day. It took less time to pack my much more packed former home.
More shrugging ensued. The truck did not pull away from the building until 8:40 p.m., and I could not slip my keys and garage clicker under the leasing office door quickly enough. It was frustrating, but it was also, and more importantly, over.
I’d been in a sort of suspended animation all day, hovering but not really alighting anywhere – Not in Starbucks, where I am perennially at home, nor in my temporary home at my ex-husband’s, where I’m staying with him, his wife and eight year old, and my own two sons. I didn't really want to start much of anything lest they summon me to ask a question or sign the papers allowing them to take most of my worldly possessions away to a dark, but I hope not damp, storage facility somewhere in Brookfield, Conn.
The immense relief brought the pinballs pinging in my cranium to pause temporarily in their slot. I imagined the crowed cheering on a grinning, victorious Tommy, whilst The Pinball Wizard (dazzlingly done by Elton John) falls, and all we see of him are his oversized Dr. Martens being carried away by the crowd.
Then the game flickers back to life as the To Do list items march on, seemingly relentlessly – Go to the DMV, Call credit card companies, Gather documents… And the days until departure (that I can now count on my fingers) peel away like a stubbornly stuck bandage.
Photo by Diane Lowman