Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm Taking the Toaster

I'm sitting at my computer with Clair De Lune playing on repeat in my noise-canceling headphones. I often listen to this song over and over again when I write.

It's Sunday. The movers are coming to move me to Chicago on Wednesday, and I am entirely 100% not ready.

If I look out from the dining room table where I sit, I observe a home that is as unkempt as any on a Sunday afternoon. There are dirty dishes with egg particles stuck to them sitting on the coffee table. There are dirty socks and underwear strewn across the bedroom floor. There is unread mail sitting on the desk and uneaten, wilting vegetables in the refrigerator.

I just looked up the Stages of Grief and I think I have arrived at stage number two, Anger. I always thought there were seven stages until I visited Wikipedia and learned that, offically the backstory of these well-referenced stages is:

"The Kübler-Ross model, commonly referred to as the "five stages of grief", is a hypothesis introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross[1] and says that when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme, awful fate, he or she will experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This hypothesis was introduced in Kübler-Ross' 1969 book On Death and Dying, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients."

OK. So, there is Denial. Denial might still be hanging out here, because the 72-hour countdown arrival of professional movers coming to pack my cheap pint glasses in bubble wrap and ship my stuff into storage for a month still feels abstract. Right now even doing my laundry or paying my bills feels hypothetical.

As I walk around our condo, picking up utensils or books, I wonder how to separate "my stuff" for professionals to pack. I keep picturing these men in white hazmat suits, standing seven feet tall and looking down at me expectantly as I try to determine whether I should pack all of the nice newer Calvin Klein towels or only take half so that my boyfriend is not left with all the old smelly ones.

A few days ago, I helped some family members move out of a house they were renting. The owners are on their way home from living in London for several years. I learned that the owners – a married couple with two children – have lived in 16 different locations in their 23 years of marriage. I took this information in while standing in their basement peering at all their neatly labeled boxes.

Christmas Decorations
School Supplies
Asia Books (they once lived in Singapore for a time)

I envied this family. In my imagination, the mom packed everyone's suitcases in a nice, calm, organized way, and this magical family has managed to hop from continent to continent, not at all emotionally attached to the material items they own. Good for them.

This is, of course, not the true case. I'm sure that this jet-setting relocating family has spent multiple sleepless nights in a teary-eyed stupor, trying to decide what goes and what stays and what gets donated and what gets thrown away.

Which brings us back to the toaster and the rest of "my stuff."

This exciting life change came fast and unexpectedly and now it is right in front of me, staring me in the face. I want to do this. I am going to do this. But I will never be "100% ready."

The problem is that I share a life with someone else. A life that exists here and not there. Perhaps our life that exists here will one day recreate itself there, but for now, I am doing this alone. There is this interim period that is about to commence, where I will need fewer dishes and one less towel hanging in the bathroom.

How do I decide what goes and what stays? We have this collection of pint glasses that we use, and they display a variety of logos and brands, all representative of events in our past. There are my Lifetime Triathlon pint glasses and his collection of brewery pint glasses. Then there are the matching coffee cups that we always make sure to use together. Like today, we both drank out of the matching pair of brown and white zig-zag Caribou mugs with the light blue insides (my favorite).

It was when I started to view these items that the anger crept in. I started looking at more stuff. My stereo, his books, my books, his fans, my bed, his couch, my paintings... The thought of separating each and every one of these items for when the Big Bad Movers arrive on Wednesday made me angry. I felt a sudden wave of survival mechanism kick in, and I defensively picked up the toaster and announced that it was coming with me.

"Sure." He said, soothingly.
"You make more toast than me anyway."

Dammit. We are such stupid beings, us humans. Why do we choose to live so far apart? Why do we neglect our evolutionary instincts to stick together? Why does my one and only brother live 1,700 miles away?

Why can't we all live in some tightly networked community where we never have to send care packages or say goodbye? 

What happened to the fucking TRIBE? 

Well, screw it. It's time to put on my Big Girl pants and go make it in the world by myself. I'm taking my journal. I'm taking my mediocre wardrobe and craigslist furniture. I am deliberately going to ignore the warning bells going off in my scar tissued heart and I am going to jump head first into my new life in Chicago.

But the toaster is coming with me.


  1. I love your writing... always look forward to see another pop up for me to read. I will miss your face.. your smile, and your 3am french meetings... so many fun memories. Don't be a stranger you guitar playing sasssy mama! Chicago better watch out!
    PS come sneak in for a parting gift (massage) if you can spare some time. It WILL help with those stresses. I promise. xo

  2. Wonderfully written Susan. Good luck and kick some ass!