Sunday, February 11, 2007

Moving Out, On, or Up? Whatever you call it, you still have to pack first...

For all of the year I’ve lived in this neighborhood, this part of the village between Washington Square Park and Houston St., it’s seemed like everyone but me was moving every single month. I know that isn’t possible, but judging from all the U-Haul’s, moving trucks & dollies, and furniture left out on the street to fend for itself, it’s a mistake anyone could make. All the NYU people really do move in and out a lot. Almost every month, I’ve walked by some piece of furniture I wished I could snag, but just didn’t need, or have room for, or couldn’t possibly get back to my apartment without a team of movers I knew I’d never muster. There was a big red sofa I still think about, sometimes, and a pink velvet chair that was begging me to curl up in it right there on the street. I console myself with thoughts of what might have been lurking deep within those fluffy looking cushions.

This week, though, as the February first crops moved in and out, I saw a lovely ladder-back chair, woodwork painted very nearly the same shade of red as the sofa I’ve regretted all this time, in good shape all around, with none of the upholstery that might double as a wildlife habitat. Here, finally, was something I kind of needed, something I could fit into my shoebox, and something I could easily carry around the corner and up my stairs myself! Then, I remembered. In a couple of weeks, I’m moving myself. I’m trying to get rid of as much of my stuff as I can possibly talk myself into doing. The last thing I need is, well, anything.

Moving is horrendous, isn’t it? Whether you’re going across the east river, across the country, or just across the street, it’s a nightmare, every time. According the Holmes and Rah Life Stressors Scale, a “change in residence,” gets you 20 points. A “major change in living conditions,” is 25. Combine those two - how can a change in residence not be accompanied by a major change in living conditions? - and moving scores a 45. To give you a little perspective here, the death of a close friend is 36 points, divorce 73, and pregnancy 40. I guess it’s nice to know that when my friends start dying off, it won’t be this bad. I guess that’s something to look forward to.

The thing that makes moving so awful for me though, is nothing to do with the changes of living conditions, or the “residences,” themselves. It’s the process of getting out of one and into another. Mostly, it’s the packing. Some people might have to wait until the moment of death is upon them to see their lives flash before their eyes. I get to do it every time I move.

I have some hoarding tendencies, I know. I’ll even admit that, left unchecked, they could lead me to a Collier brothers type demise. So, with every move, I try to lessen the load, to disencumber myself of some of all this stuff I somehow have accumulated. That means I’m not just folding sweaters and boxing books. Oh no, nothing so simple as that for me. Instead, I’m carefully considering each item. When did I wear this last? If I haven’t read this book by now, am I really ever going to? That kind of thing. It’s lots of fun. Honestly. Just a blast.

The trio of plastic possum figurines I looking at right now, for instance. I’m not sure if plastic is quite the word, actually. Resin maybe? I don’t know. I bought them at some kind of dollar store, in Chinatown, I think. There was something so wrong with the fact of their existence, with someone, somewhere, having thought they were a good ides for long enough to design and manufacture them. I had to have them. And anyway, it was a dollar store. Who bothers with anything like judgment or restraint inside those places? Isn’t that the point?

I’d just moved in with Boyfriend at that point. I knew he’d get it, the brilliant mistake my decorative possum were. That was one of the things I loved about him. So I took them home. He did get it, and we put them on our new glass shelves.

I don’t know where those shelves are now. Neither of us wanted them when we moved out of that apartment. I didn’t have room. He didn’t really need them. They probably wound up out on the street. The possum, though, have been in a box underneath my bed for the last year. I can barely stand the sight of them at this point. Who wants the souvenirs of a hopeful moment that didn’t pan out? But how can I just throw them out? Which is worse, to continue carting these things around, like some kind of holy relics, or to toss them out, as though they never meant a thing? I really can’t decide, but I’m going to have to, because I’m moving.

Then there’s this perfect long ,black, dress. I cannot describe just what a perfect dress this is. It would almost be worth the time of going to design school, if I learned by what magic this dress allows for the riskiest display of cleavage I’ve ever attempted, without looking slutty, in the slightest. My mother even likes this dress, and she generally wishes I would shop more at Laura Ashley, and less at any store with the word “Secret” in its name. I think it’s something to do with the unlikely turn of the straps. I haven’t worn it in five or six years, at least. Even so, it’s still the first thing I think of when one of those occasional black tie invitations shows up in my mailbox. I love this dress. But I haven’t worn it in years. I bought it in a passing, and long past, moment in which I was, just possibly, too thin. Thinner, at any rate, than I’m willing to do the work of maintaining anymore. It hasn’t looked quite right for a good long while. By any reasonable measure, It’s time to let it go. Somewhere out there, is a dress just as good, one that would even fit correctly, right? I wore this one too one of my oldest friends’ weddings though. To that stupid Christmas party in Massachusetts. And how do I know I won’t get lucky, and get a tapeworm or something, find it fitting perfectly again one day? People do get them, you know. It happens.

Normal people might find themselves taking this detour down memory lane packing up the picture albums, or sorting through boxes of letters and old journals. Not me though. I know exactly what’s inside of those, just where their dangers lie. Those I just box up, taking care not to look directly at them, and leave the culling for another time. It’s these surprises, in garment bags in my closet, or stored neatly underneath my bed, that throw me for such a loop. Emotions are often highly overrated, if you ask me. Like fondly remembered college friends, we had reasons for falling out of touch with some of them. At least old roommates offer the common courtesy of keeping to themselves, unless we go Googling them. I don’t recommend that, by the way. It never works out the way you’d hoped.

Maybe I should go see if that chair’s still out there after all. Something to remember this block by.

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