After 15 years of a stationary life (home owner for ten of those years) in Durham I moved three times in three years. Major moves. From NC to Montana. From Montana to New Orleans. And in the last week, from Nola to Ohio.
With the Montana move I went for it. I packed all my furniture, the adult furniture earned from many hard hours of restaurant work. The real dining room table with real chairs. The bookshelves and the lamps and the groovy 70’s endtable and the nice mixer. The mattress...ahhhh. The piece that made that decision for me though, was that just a year ago I had purchased my first real sofa, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. For years I had sat on futons, the kind that slink down no matter how much you shore them up. Each slump made me more irritated and I vowed one day, I would sit in peace.
See? Wasn’t it nice? Carter furniture out of North Carolina. Firm but springy. There was a subtle print to the black that doesn’t show up in the picture. The sage chenille cushions were nubby yet silky soft. My cats would sleep on the each of the flat arms like New York Library lions. I miss you sofa, as I sit here, writing on the floor, my butt bones aching. And I believe my cats, flopped here on the floor with me in stereo, miss the arms.
When I graduated from Montana in 2008, that’s when gas was almost $5 a gallon. Nevermind two grad school years had depleted the coffer. I sold off all my furniture on craigslist. As people appraised, harangued and eventually hauled off every stick, I admit I was pretty depressed by the end. I was 39, and while these were just things, these furnishings had made me feel adult. And it was really best if I didn’t stop to think about how many hours of restaurant work and careful comparison shopping and obsessively planned IKEA shopping adventures had gone into all this.
Of course, writing is more important to me than nice furniture. I’m just saying.
In Nola, I lucked out and my apartment came furnished. With nice antiques. I’m realizing how lucky that was as I furnish now from scratch. I’ve spent a good deal of the past week sitting on the floor, assembling black particle board furniture with one of those microscopic Allen wrenches. My knuckles are cranky. One reason I chose all black assembly furniture was I figured this could be a theme. My new Mac is silver and black. My drums are silver and black. I have silver decorative things. Black furniture. Sure.
The real reason, though, is that I can carry unassembled furniture by myself. For great furniture deals at garage sales or little stores or ads the general rule is you haul. Some new grad student friends helped me unload the trailer, but they live out in the country, with a kid, and I can’t call them every day. Bottom line it’s me who has to get this done.
And that’s when I feel sad and single. As I drag boxes of flat packed furniture down the driveway and up stairs. Isn’t there supposed to be someone on the other end? Helping me lift? And yeah, I mean someone male with nice forearms.
A friend from my Nola writers’ group said he and his girlfriend devised a moving strategy: she packs and cleans and he lifts. At this I thought: Gee, I have this super awesome method where I pack and clean and lift.
Then again, moving alone has benefits; I haven’t had to negotiate a trick. If I decide on all black furniture then it’s a done deal. I don’t have to come home and hear, “Check out this awesome plaid La-Z Boy recliner someone just left out on the street!!!” I don’t have to deal with someone wondering if all black might be depressing, or if we can afford this, or maybe we should look around more, or..? Who knows? Everyone has their own agenda. Moving is a series of a thousand tiny decisions and another person’s opinion doubles the amount of choices that must be made. Maybe more depending on the person.
When I get everything home, and I set it up, all according to how I want it, I’m ready to go. No clutter in my mental space. Nothing that isn't mine because I want it there. And I’m so totally Woolf here, in that I need hours to piddle and shuffle and rummage before I get to work. I can’t even focus with a dog around. Maybe I don’t need someone asking me what we are going “to do” about that huge painting that needs hanging. Maybe it’ll just sit on the hallway floor for a while. Maybe it’ll sit there for five freaking years if I feel like it, because I’m too busy writing.