My month so far:
- House fire
- Yay! Some of my things are safe!
- Chemical exposure
- Asbestos contamination
- Boo! All of my things are ruined!
- Insurance adjustors
- Restoration ambulance-chasers
- Boo or yay? Some of my things can be salvaged, badly, for thousands of dollars
- Spending thousands of dollars just to throw away all my worldly possessions
I am the eternal optimist. And, for the love of God, it’s annoying. My writing partner Rebecca posted a cartoon of two inmates chained to a wall in a medieval-looking prison to my Facebook page a few months ago, saying it reminded her of me. One says to the other, “Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do…”
Give me any problem or situation, and I will — despite all evidence it would be much healthier were I to run away, curl up in the fetal position and freebase a week’s worth of macaroni and cheese in one evening — find the goddamned silver lining. Seriously, just try me: Any situation. Take away aspects of my health, and I’ll be thankful it forced me to learn to meditate. Send me a stalker, and I’ll appreciate learning to set strict boundaries. Put me in a war zone or terrorist incident (Guatemalan civil war, Nairobi Embassy bombing) and I’ll be grateful for the test of resiliency. My nickname should be Pollyanna.
Here’s where my silver lining stops: Moving.
There is no joy in moving. There are no redeeming qualities. There are no ‘Yippie! My life is deeper/richer/more fulfilling!’ moments. Packing boxes, finding boxes, taping up boxes, wrapping glasses, carrying furniture down two flights of steps, storage units, movers losing or breaking important possessions, chaos and disorganization, the pungently chemical smell of Sharpies.
One of my favorite quotes is from writer Annie Lamott in an article where she muses on finding oneself:
I don’t know all that many things that are positively true, but I do know two things for sure: first of all, that no woman over the age of 40 should ever help anyone move, ever again, under any circumstances.
I have wholeheartedly embraced turning 40. Now I wonder if reading that quote years ago was the catalyst.
I’m fairly certain my entire career and the reason I endeavor to earn decent money is not to eat, take care of my health, save for retirement, or have shelter over my head. It is simply so I know I can always hire other people to move for me. When I was in my teens and 20s, I moved approximately 14,167 times in three weeks (give or take).
This was during the housing shortage in San Francisco. The day after I left the peacefulness of the reservation for the traffic and chaos of the Bay Area was the day the headlines for both the SF Chronicle and the SF Bay Guardian read (I might be paraphrasing here):
SINGLE WORST TIME TO MOVE TO SAN FRANCISCO, OR ANY CITY, IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET, NOW OR EVER
I wound up in my friend’s roommate’s room in Oakland after the roommate (a stripper and Internet porn model) moved in with her S&M-addicted boyfriend she’d met at her strip club. (We became good friends. I learned things about the city I’m not sure I’ll ever be old enough to know.) After a desperate search in which fellow roommate applicants were offering hundreds of dollars more per month or showing off their pastry chef resumes, I moved in with a roommate who called me at work to yell at me about not taking the trash out the second day I’d ever lived there. When he threatened me physically, I brought my two largest male friends over to move my stuff into a friend’s closet. I moved to another friend’s house two weeks later, and then in with Christine, the friend I’m staying with now.
Soon after, I decided to go on a post-college Gap Year. Instead of moving or storing my things, I got rid of everything. And I do mean everything. I sold my car and donated or sold 95% of my possessions I couldn’t fit in a backpack. Eventually, partially simply to not have to move shampoo and conditioner bottles from place to place, I even shaved my head. (I’d post the photos, but they’re covered with asbestos.) I came back. I got a decent-paying job (well, after the one where they embezzled $4.7 million and I worked with the IRS to help put my former bosses in prison, where they now still reside — but that’s another blog post). I found my place on Jersey St. I stayed there for grad school. When I paid the soothingly reliable Moovers Inc* to move my things across the country to my new home in North Carolina, my best friend Len joined my lease on Jersey St, and I even got to leave some of my larger items there.
Until today. I will be spending today dressed in my version of a hazmat suit (clothes I’ll leave in the contamination site; protective booties, gloves and a mask), going through all of my ruined possessions, deciding what I want to pay more to clean than they cost to buy and what I throw away. My roommate Anne’s insurance company Safeco already came, picked up everything, and brought it into salvage or restore or throw away. Her sweaters now crunch, she says. I’m not sure I want to pay thousands of dollars to have items restored only to throw them away again.
So, fuck optimism today. I am going to complain loudly. Fire schmire. Asbestos schmasbestos. But moving. Fucking hell. This sucks.
* It probably doesn’t need to be stressed that my recommendation of a moving company holds a pretty significant amount of weight. If you ever move locally or cross-country, go with Moovers Inc. Really. Trust me on this one.