Friday, November 7, 2008

Moving Day

Stella enjoying the good life in her new bedroom. It's the nicest room in the apartment, of course!

Our new living room is vast

It's late Friday night now, after a long week at work. After a long move on Saturday. After a long week spent packing for that long move on Saturday.

Well, miraculously we ended up getting everything packed in time for the movers to show up Saturday morning. And when they showed up, oh, what a sight they were. The first guy I saw stumbled out of the truck and looked both high and drunk, and it was only slightly after 9:00 a.m.

"Wonderful," I thought. "We get the guys who look like they could star in the moving version of 'Disorderlies.'"

Eventually though the stoned guy's boss emerged, and he seized control. He introduced himself, I did the same, and the moving began.

Moving creates a weird power dynamic. You pay guys to pick things up so you don't have to. I pay for this because, well, dammit, at some point I became too old, or at least felt too old, to keep bribing friends via pizza and beer. If I could get any friends at all, for any price.

It used to be so much easier. When I lived in Colorado if I had to move I could pack everything in my car, tie my mattress to the roof and off I went. The whole project might take 15 minutes.

Things change. Now we have so much stuff that is so specific. We have a white noise machine for Stella so that she sleeps. We have a baby monitor it's base and an adapter--you need all three--so we can listen to white noise machine as she sleeps. Seriously, you cannot imagine quite how terrible a white noise machine sounds pumped through the world's smallest, and worst, speaker.

Stella also has a puppy dog lovie that she curls up with in the pack 'n play. For the males out there a "lovie" is the term of art for a toy that the baby snuggles up with in order to feel comforted as she drifts off to Sleepytown. Randi made the puppy dog especially homey for the Brooklyn Baby Baby by wearing it around in her cleavage for a while. So now Stella smells mommy with every restful breath.

We also had all Stella's clothes, and all her books. Then there is her antacid medicine, because apparently our seven month old daughter has the digestive system of a seventy year old man. There is also the dropper for her medicine. In other words, we have so many little things that we can't lose. Have we? Ask me when we've fully unpacked.

And that's just stuff for Stella. I don't want to make it seem like all the things are hers. For starters I have six guitars. Six! I am not ambidextrous, and I've barely picked up any of them in a month but there you go, six guitars. Now we use them for when Stella sleeps on our bed. To keep her from rolling off we'll put guitar cases on either side of her, and a laundry bag at her feet. So I might not play my Les Paul, or my beloved Fender Telecaster, but they still serve a purpose, albeit one to make Aerosmith cringe.

So there were all those things to consider. But I must want to get back the moving power dynamic. It's an intimate time, this time spent with movers. They arrive in your life for just a few hours and you are completely locked in with them for that amount of time. You can't ignore them, and you can't really leave them alone. There are too many things that can go wrong, and too many specific sets of instructions for what needs extra care, and extra packing.

Maybe I am the strange one, I don't know. I've found that I simply cannot walk away and let them move my things. I need to be there, hanging out, encouraging them, getting in the way probably, even as I try to help. And sometimes you have to admonish them. At one point, for example, one of the movers was throwing our garbage bags filled with clothes down the stairwell. I had to tell him to not do that.

"You know, there are some things in there that are fragile," I said, thinking of our inflatable air mattress. The mover was abashed, and promised to not do it again. And he didn't, I think.

Two of the movers were from East New York, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. My mother was from there too, way, way back when. But when I mentioned this to one of the movers--trying to build rapport--he gave me a knowing smile.

"That was a long time ago," he said. "Back before the white people moved out and the black people moved in."

He was right. He and the other movers were black, I am white. Obviously we're from different places, and their job is much harder than mine. I tried to help make their day a little easier, though. I bought them juice, and cups with which to drink water, but there's only so much I could do to help. They have to haul ass to get paid. And chitchat, while appreciated, is not necessary.

I have to hand it to them. Despite my initial impression these guys were quite good at what they did. One guy, for example, hauled my entire bureau down the stairs on his back on his own. I was amazed. My friend and I, together, barely got it up the stairs eight months ago. He didn't get a scratch on it, and didn't scratch the stairwell, either.

In so many ways the move itself, the emptying of the apartment where we had lived for four years was a revelation. As we packed I found two T-shirts I had simply thought were lost. It turns out I had created a special, new T-shirt area in my bureau about three months ago, and had immediately forgotten that I'd ever done it.

When the couch was moved I was truly disgusted and fascinated by what I found. Disgusted, because there was quite literally a warren of dust bunnies that had reproduced under our sofa. Fascinated because the area under the sofa could easily be called the Land Of The Lost Cat Toy. Under there were toys we had lost, in some cases, years before. I found one crinkly Mylar ball, another knobby ball, two dented plastic balls that make noise when they roll, and other various cat curiosities. I took all these toys and threw them away, because if they can get marooned under the couch once, they surely will again.

I also found an blue bulb syringe. The syringe had originally been bought years before to help me flush out my ears. But it had instead become a cat toy without my knowledge. Now filled with filth and dirt I thought the better of keeping it, aware that I probably shouldn't clean my ear with something so disgusting.

Under our bed I found a picture of me from when Randi and I started dating. In it I wear a Centre College T-shirt, and stand at the kitchen area of her old apartment. It's not a good picture of me, and I didn't miss it, but Randi seems glad to have found it.

We also found an orange plastic fish teething toy for Stella that was also under the bed. This one we kept, washed and plan to use in the future. She's not only teething now, but also starting to get into the rudiments of crawling, so exciting times here.

Loose coins, I also discovered, had gone everywhere. I am sorry, but nothing looks more shitty than an apartment with loose change all about. One penny had wedged itself into the corner of our bedroom, a perfect fit. I didn't even bother trying to remove it.

Once we moved out, I was also amazed by how much dust we had collected. We swept, and vacuumed when we lived there, sometimes multiple times a week, really we did, but you wouldn't know it to see the floors as we moved out. Dust was everywhere, and the movers started to get teary eyed, allergic to the dust itself and our dander, I guess. Which is a kind of disgusting thought, really.

I guess that's part of why we pay them so well, they have to wade through our filth, as well as carry our crap.

In total the move took five hours, and we were well satisfied with the job the movers had done. I paid the guys their money per hour and gave them a fairly nice tip, or at least I thought it was nice. I came to think of these guys as kind of my friends by the end of our time together, and why shouldn't I? They made our life in our new apartment possible. It was a bargain.

More about the new place next time. Stella is crying, and someone is speaking a foreign language outside my door. Goodnight.

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