It’s going to happen. Early in the morning, twenty days from today, an oversized van is going to roll into my driveway and remove the accretion of forty-two years. The house has already changed. I’m reminded of the occasional newspaper story about the home of a deceased recluse being found filled with boxes with narrow paths between them. I’m getting there.
Most drawers and closets have been emptied; the closets now echo with nothing to absorb the sound waves; the curio cabinets are, curiously, empty and dark; there is no art remaining on the walls. The continent-spanning railroads of the basement are dismantled and their assets have been packaged up for sale next Saturday. Along with them are the dusty antique Atwater Kent and Radiola wireless sets from the 20’s which were to have been restored. Not everything on the list gets done.
The tools from the perf boards above the stained glass and woodwork benches have been packed and the benches will be dismantled and moved. The empty frames and mats from the framing bench have been packed and the bench will also move. The files from the office have been packed but the boxes opened a couple of times as I frantically sought some datum. The computer and its display and printers remain, not to be moved until the movers box me up. Pearl is apprehensive, wanting to be by every box as it’s packed. She finds security in her litter box, her food dishes, and her side of the electric blanket at night. Come to think about it, so do I.
I’ve had moments of feeling overwhelmed as closet after cabinet after room revealed mountains of “stuff” that had to be sorted down to movables. How could it ever be done? The cliche answer: one room at a time. And, it has happened that way. Still, each zone has its nasty surprises. Last night, preparing to attack the storage end of the basement I came across three portable file boxes filled with the records of a contentious business situation in the mid 90’s. Can I dispose of those? Tough; sort of like a security blanket.
All spaces have revealed the things that were put away for later, but later is now. Some are sent to the curb — about seven barrels so far — but others are boxed up for ….. later. I went through a video phase for a few years in the 80’s and I used to ask my late wife, “When are we going to look at these tapes?’ “When we move to Medford Leas.” she would answer. I’ll be ready.
I did purge the scrapbooks from the 60’s, transferring “important” things to the family memorabilia file. The photo albums from the late seventies on through into this century will be moved and I’m going to look at all of them when I “move to Medford Leas.” Inevitably, however, the occasional heart-stirring item pops up: cards Marty Lou and I exchanged with hand written personal notes added; home made birthday or Father’s Day cards or sketches of me from my daughters; pictures of us looking impossibly young. This is all bittersweet but I’m on track. I had one moment of near-meltdown last week as the enormity of the symbolism surged through me. But, it passed. My life outside of the house won’t change, and there’s a whole new world of people and activities to be added. I even got my first invitation to a neighborhood brunch which they hold every couple of months.
My daughter, Sigrid, has been a great gift basket of physical and moral support. She has dug in and just plain packed while I would dither over how to optimally load each box. She has been a catalyst in helping me to decide what goes, what stays for the contents sale, and what goes to the curb. She and her husband, Bob, moved pounds and pounds of my art (a van full plus my back seat and trunk) to the townhouse last Sunday. More of that is going to happen now as we want to move the breakables, some of the antiques, and the things that are hard to pack.
My buddy, Barbara, has also pitched in, giving up some days to pack the kitchenwares (she delighted in purging my spice cabinet of contents dating as far back as the 80’s) and plates, and my collections of cloisone, bohemian glass, and pattern glass. She has also seen to my nourishment and recovery after physically demanding days.
I cancelled a club photo expedition to the Canaan Valley in West Virginia, and a club field trip at the Cedar Run wildlife refuge to focus on sorting and packing. I have, however, tried to get away for a bit on weekend days. For one such trip Barbara and I hiked the two mile trail around Amico Island. It was a beautiful day and the woods and the adjacent Delaware River were lovely. Here’s the interior pond on the island.
Another trip took me to a favorite spot, Wheaton Village near Millville, NJ. There was a terrific craft show going on. Glass pumpkins were evident and I watched them being created in the glass house. Hmmm, I wonder if I could put a furnace in the new basement???