The truck pulled up at precisely 8am, a huge, beeping, lumbering vehicle that just barely fit into the already damaged brick lined driveway of the house.
The previous sleepless night, one of many recently, I lay in bed and recreated in my mind the rooms I hadn’t seen in fourteen months, not since the fire. I pictured the rooms to take a mental inventory of all the items contained therein so I could anticipate their return and plan where they’d go. I started in the living room. There was a bookcase, an end table, a lamp, a chest, a couch, no the couch won’t be coming back, I reminded myself. Room by room I moved through a house that no longer existed. A phantom home filled with phantom possessions, tallying as I went.
The door to the truck opened and first out was Bobbie, the driver and the one in charge who was on the verge of retirement. Azeal, the young buck, and Jeremy the nubie followed. They lowered the lift gate and raised the door to reveal a tsunami of boxes.
I led them into the house and pointed at the meager open space in the living room. I orchestrated the unloading, pointing to where the boxes should be stacked then joined in, working alongside the two young ones while Bobbie folded furniture pads and shoved boxes to the lip of the lift gate.
In no time the living room was full. The kitchen, every inch of floor and countertop was next. Then the guest bedroom and finally the master bedroom, carefully leaving a path by which the mattress and box springs could be delivered the following day.
Three palettes, each holding 24 boxes, remained. There was nothing to do but fill the garage. Boxes were jammed in from floor to rafters, heavy to light.
Three hundred and fifteen in all, some small, some large, some filled, some mostly empty but all of them required action.
After the truck pulled away I began. Hour after hour, listening to “The Nightingale” book on CD, which made me feel both guilty for all I had and petty for feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand. I was not risking my life to save the lives of Jewish children nor was I freezing to death as I walked Allied pilots out of Germany across the Pyrenees. I was just opening box after box after box, wresting with Styrofoam popcorn, bubble wrap, cardboard and tape. The pile of flattened boxes and the bags of popcorn crew until the kitchen was emptied and just three rooms and garage remained for the next day.
“Woo Hoo” my friends texted, “So happy you’re finally moving in!” Happy Face.
Yeah, woo hoo.