My life in boxes

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.

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Can it really be March already?



It’s been a whirlwind two months but I finally have my feet on the ground.

After the fire everything happened quickly. I needed a new place to live asap.  I believe I’m a considerate house guest but I’m never comfortable staying with others.  Believe me, I was lucky to have friends who opened their home to me without a seconds hesitation and I am grateful that for those first couple of nights I didn’t have to go to a hotel.

I spent one day looking at options. I found a really cute two bedroom apartment in my neighborhood – I hadn’t appreciated the building boom in my area until I became a renter!  My insurance company, Liberty Mutual, was terrific.  I told them where I wanted to live and they made it happen in a day!  They tried to get furniture ordered and delivered with just a one day turnaround but that was impossible.  Still, I was moved into a new place, fully furnished and equipped with most of the basics one needs in the same week as the fire.

The shocker to me was how much it cost to re-stock a kitchen.  I like to cook so I bought all the basic spices – there were about 20 – in addition I got milk, eggs, bread, oils, vinegar, condiments, flour, sugar, cereal, teas, coffees, pasta and pantry staples like tomato sauce and chicken stock. Then there were cleaning supplies and basic toiletry items.  I didn’t go crazy – the apartment has a decent size but not huge kitchen.  I thought I’d spend about $250-300.  The total came to $749!  That was without any meat or veggies – just the bare necessities.

My daughter came down to help me out that weekend and we bought a few things that added a homey touch to the place – plants, a rug, a table cloth and we pulled a few items (Crock Pot, Coffee Maker, my good knives) from the house which we hoped the fire hadn’t damaged in a way we couldn’t see.  I also grabbed two bottles of good wine which I haven’t tried yet but I hope weren’t ruined.

Two weeks after moving in I had 30 friends over for wine and snacks!  I needed that to get me to realize that this was not a short term residence.  I’d spent so much time the past two years living out of hotel rooms that I didn’t truly accept that my new living arrangements could last awhile! I kept thinking that I shouldn’t get too settled because I’d just need to pack everything up in a few months.  Reluctantly I realized that those few months were going to come close to a full year.

I was glad that everyone liked my new place and found it as inviting as my previous house.  I enjoyed finally getting over my fear of filo.  I made veggie samosas that came out fabulous! (so much butter!)

As of today, no work has started on the house.  It’s just sitting there waiting for someone to come and put it out of its misery.  I am, uncharacteristically, not pushing to get things started.  I’ve redesigned the rooms where changes are possible and have rethought the layout and use of others.  I’m ready to get going as soon as I get the green light.  Until then, I’m enjoying where I am and getting back into a routine.