Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adventures in Packing Part Two: Holy Crap!

The longer we wait around
The faster the years go by

It's not too late
To feel a little more alive
Make an escape
Before we start to vaporize

Doubtless, we've been through this
So if you want to follow me you should know
I was lost then and I am lost now
And I doubt I'll ever know which way to go

The Broken Bells

Dreaming big is easy, living big is harder.  Moving big may be harder still.  But, I guess I'm about to find out because this is really happening.  Marissa and I will be in Pittsburgh in less than a week, and on a week from tomorrow at approximately 10:30 AM I become a homeowner in a little township outside of Pittsburgh.  Now when people stop me randomly and ask me if I am from there, I can simply say, "Yes."  And when they rattle off the name of some obscure place I've never heard of, their eyes alight with the possibility that someone will know it, I'll have my own little obscure township name to respond back with!  But, that's not why I'm buying property there:  to have a deeper connection with people I meet in the grocery store.  I'm buying it to move my family there and give us a fresh start.  Once those keys are in my hand, the real work begins.  And what a load of work it will be!

Remember how I whined and whined because Mother insisted I pack up her apartment two years ago in the month of December?  Well, somewhere in the cosmos she is having a nice laugh at my expense, because I'll be tasked with packing an entire house crammed with not only my own stuff, but the remnants of hers as well in the month of December.  And I still will host Christmas at Greg's mother's request, so I'll have to trot out all the directions and decorate a house I'm trying to close down.  All the while finish up at work, train my replacement, begin sending out serious resumes and making a real attempt to find a job now that I can honestly say I have a place to live and therefore can guarantee a start date.  Yeah, I'm certifiably nuts.

There's so much to do it makes my head spin, but I have to confess, I'm not that upset about it.  What I believe will happen out of it is that I will be so busy, this second year holiday season will pass by in  a blur.  We will have something to look forward to on the other side of it.  Our second year without Kelsey, our first year without my mother will be mitigated by the chaos I've created by finding the Get Me There House this fall, not all the way into next spring.   But, check in with me in about three weeks and see if that sense of resolution still holds, or whether I'm just a stressed out wreck.

Already the challenges are piling up:  finding homeowners insurance on a vacant house is not that easy. I've been turned down by several companies.  I found a company online that specializes in it and, realizing I would likely be fleeced, but deciding that was better than risking having nothing in place, I contacted an agent on Mount Royal Blvd (a street I actually recognized since I looked at houses on it, so I was excited to do business with someone "local" to me) only to have the email bounce back.  Can you say fly-by-night?  There was an issue with the plumbing that the current owner worked diligently to resolve, but it finally ended up being that the 50-year old terra-cotta pipe running into the house ten feet down in the ground is crushed.  The repair won't be done by the time we close, so I'll have to worry over that and somehow getting a fence done in hard, quickly getting harder, winter ground before I move in.

Then there's still the dogs and the two cats.  For a while after Precious died, Noelle, my next oldest, did a lot better.  I concluded that she patterned some of her old dog behavior after Precious, and if Precious wasn't being scolded for peeing in the house, then she figured she wouldn't be either.  Once that was over, no more accidents for a while.  No longer the case.  She is clearly increasingly senile and not in control of all her functions.  She does repetitive tasking, like licking the tops of her paws, obsessively to the point that they are raw.  How is traveling with her going to be, and how will she handle such a radical change in routine?  Then Tawny, with her arthritis, already making it hard for her to move around without assistance.  How are the Pennsylvania winters going to be for her?  And, in addition to those specialized worries, there is just the logistics of moving this zoo, no longer pie in the sky dreaming, to be figured out.  I think I like the idea of renting an RV best, but now that Greg has a paper route, who drives my car behind me and drives the RV back?  One problem was sadly solved earlier this week when the beta fish died.

I've got bids to do with moving companies, decisions to make, sorting through decades worth of stuff to handle, football to watch, hockey to follow (since watching hockey in central Texas isn't that easy) and presents to buy, wrap and mail - because it is still the holidays, no matter what I try and do to mask that fact.  At least I have a working oven again for holiday baking.  And this time next year, if you want my famous pumpkin cookies, you'll need to come to Shaler to get them.  The thought of that will get me through. 

It's too late to change your mind,
You let loss be your guide
The High Road
The Broken Bells


  1. I was just saying to Jacob that I honestly don't know when my next real "break" is going to be in reference to school breaks... Thanksgiving "break" will be spent writing 15 pages worth of papers, Christmas "break" will be spent packing, as will spring "break" and summer "break" will be moving... then school again, and I'm sure I'll be continuously unpacking for the next like, five years. I also told him it's 10 times harder because not only to I carry the load of 3 people's worth of stuff, but we as a 3-person family carry the load of probably six people.. We will always have Kelsey's stuff even though she's not physically here to possess it, we will always have as much of grandma's stuff as we do (which is shocking when you think of how much smaller that amount has become), we will always have some of your dad's stuff, some of dad's dad's stuff....

    It's going to be crazy, but we can totally do it.
    I really think the hardest part is going to be the emotional/mental turmoil it's going to cause me... us. I'm not ready to go back through all of Kelsey's stuff.. I mean, I always want to, and I do from time to time get out one of her journals or her sketch books, but seriously, 20 minutes of it is all I can handle because I'm crying too hard.. I'm ready for it because I love smelling her still on her stuff, I love feeling her legacy in my hands, but it's painful.

    Sorry. I'm ranting. I'm venting. I'm trying to force catharsis: I'm trying to make myself cry *see most recent post for better understanding*

    What I'm getting at is: it's going to be nuts, it's going to be stressful, it's going to be emotional, but we're troopers if there ever were any.

  2. The hardest part of anything is starting. The second hardest part of anything is finishing. You are doing both at the same time, finishing your time here in Texas and beginning anew in Pittsburgh. So, two things to remember, the first is "one thing at a time" and the second is "don't sweat the small stuff" both can be summed up by saying "Take care of yourself first, take care of everything else second" You and I have a habit of not stopping and pushing to accomplish the task(s) at hand, come hell or high water. I have learned the task will still be there and will still get done, even if I stop and get a cup of coffee and sit outside and feel the sun on my face for 15 minutes. What is more important - you enjoy your last Christmas in Texas with family or they spend twenty seconds ooohing and aaaahing over the decorations? What I am trying to say is, take care of yourself, Cheryl. Don't try to make everything perfect, sometimes good enough is good enough. Love you.