Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It is Finished, Part II

I don't remember how late we slept on Sunday, but I remember saying "I want to get down there as soon as possible." We both grossly underestimated just how much work this was going to be - the emptying of my apartment. We stopped for a good solid breakfast, and headed for the George Washington Bridge.

"I don't think everything is going to fit in your car," I said. I thought of the mountain of crap left in my apartment, that we had told the movers to leave. Part of that mountain was a large pile of Salvation Army Donations, but it was Sunday, and I knew SA was closed. Another part of the mountain was my Gateway Desktop, which I was planning to ship to my parents in Illinois, but again... Post Office and Mail Boxes Etc. are closed on Sunday.

"You're going to have to come back on your lunch break Monday and do your donations then," G said. I was quiet. I had a critical meeting on Monday at 1PM in my Human Resources Department, which was already stressing me. I knew I could never take the extra time to come home. Even if I could, how could I carry all that stuff for blocks? He doesn't know what he's saying, I thought to myself. He's irritated that he even has to do as much as this. I won't argue with him. He'll see in time. We rode the rest of the way to 95th street in silence.

We arrived at my apartment slightly before noon, and set to work.

The problem was that I had two major goals, not one. I had to pack my belongings for two destinations - storage and my new home. This meant I have to a)Organize and sort my things and then b)pack them. Trying to decide which of my things I could live without for two years was extremely difficult. I knew that there was actually a third leg to this task - of the things I'm not moving to my new home, which will I store, and which will I get rid of altogether? So I had three piles to make: Keep, Store, and Donate. Looking back on it, there was no way in hell I could have done a better job than I did. Most people would have done worse. But G didn't seem to be aware of this. All he knew was that he was "bungholed" (his word) into staying up all night helping me disassemble furniture because I hadn't been able to pack well. I love this man, but in terms of this move, I don't think he has any idea what I went through. The mental anguish was bad enough - but the down-and-dirty practical work of sorting my life and deciding what to get rid of was damn near impossible.

And I did it all alone. I left so many voicemails and emails for so many friends. All my so-called girlfriends knew I was moving. Nobody offered to even get together with me for one last drink. Nobody even called me for a long phone chat. NEVER MIND offered to help me sort my things. I practically begged a couple of those bitches to just come and sit in my apartment and talk to me while I work, to keep me from spiraling so far down into depression that I wind up in a fetal position on the floor. I was ignored. Nobody even returned my phone calls or emails. I was utterly abandoned.

I know people are busy, but I was in a crisis. One friend actually had the gall to cc me on an email invite announcing the birthday party of her other friend and a concert of another of our mutual friends. She can't return my messages, but she can play social organizer for Sally and Shelby. Is this a friend? I haven't been that angry in awhile.

Glamgirl is in general pretty selfish and I never expected her to lift anything heavier than a nail file, so at least I wasn't disappointed in her. She was only here for a month anyway, and as a theatre professor in Korea, she has to make the best use of her time as possible. But we are supposedly best friends... She left the day after my emergency room episode, and didn't call to say goodbye. I knew she wouldn't.

One friend is also an ex-boyfriend who was freaking out about me leaving - no packing help there, no way. Another friend would have pitched in but she has muscle problems in her arm that prevent her from even typing, never mind taping boxes or carrying bags of clothes 2 blocks to SA. She's off the hook. And as for Galpal... she is completely absorbed with her show, and doesn't have time to shave her own legs. At least she sat on the phone with me yesterday while I cried on her shoulder about my work woes for 15 minutes or so. At least she makes sure I know she cares. And all of the above people at least called me to talk, say goodbye, dropped by with a sandwich, or made some other gesture to let me know they care.

The Social Director just flat out ignored me. It made me feel so unimportant, so uncared about... so fair-weather. And the sad thing is that she calls me all the time when there's drinking to do or movies to see or parties to attend. And I know she's gone through some difficult stuff with both Sally and Shelby, and another friend of hers (notice I said hers) named Lilly. I used to think I was part of this little group of friends. We used to all hang out together. But...

I guess she's only there for certain people in her life, and I'm not one of them.

A lot of people I didn't even bother to call. I only called people who I feel particularly close to - people I consider my oldest, closest friends in New York. I think that's why this hurts so much. The people I felt certain would be there for me let me down.

New York is constantly changing. This is not the city I moved to. Much of it has visibly gentrified just in the 10 years I've been here, which is wonderful, but the people I knew back then are gone. All of them. Some I remember hugging and kissing, and saying to each other that we'd never lose touch, as though it were yesterday. Right now, I have no confidence that a single person from my New York Days will remain in my life in any tangible fashion one year from now. When I come back to visit, I will have nobody to drink with. I will be nothing more than another tourist who used to live here. That makes me sad... but not as sad as I maybe ought to be. I'm older, I'm cynical, and a part of me says: Duh. What did you expect?

I didn't expect. I hoped. I never expect. I always hope. And Goddamit the day I wake up expecting instead of hoping will be a very dark day indeed.

So I packed. And I sorted. And I cried. And I walked about my apartment, amidst piles of my life, precious things and things I know I could do without, all alone. And I chastised myself for being inefficient?

This is the first time I have ever felt that G was insensitive to me, that he was more concerned for his comfort than mine. And even now, I understand that he could hardly have felt any different. Neither one of us were 100 percent ready to move in together. We would both have liked to wait longer... but life dealt us this hand, and we're staying at the table. We love each other enough to hold hands and hope we win. Because it is a gamble, moving in with someone. Maybe you never feel ready for it. Maybe you do... when you shouldn't. So here we go.

The apartment itself was dirty. DirtyGirl had moved out without touching a single thing in the entire apartment, except her room. She didn't even throw all her food out of the refrigerator. She took advantage of the fact that she was leaving first, and didn't clean a single thing. In addition to finishing the boxing up of my possessions, we had a thorough cleaning to do. My security deposit was at stake.

G cleaned the entire bathroom, and I did the kitchen. I had to empty out half-used containers of mustard and salad dressing and cocktail sauce and other such foodstuffs in recyclable glass and plastic jars. The refrigerator itself had to be taken apart and cleaned. There seemed to be no end of recycling. I threw away onion soup mix, half a box of Pastina, open boxes of sugar, baking powder, anything that was already open. "Nobody's starving, Grandma," I told the air. "The depression is over. Nobody will eat this half-open used stuff anyway!" Something inside me pinched as I dumped 3/4 of a jar of pickle relish down the toilet. I was not brought up to throw out food. But I did it anyway. I had to, I told myself. I only have this one day. And G will never stand for me bringing a box of foodstuffs to his apartment, along with all the rest of my stuff. "I'm sorry, Grandma," I said aloud.

I brought any unopened cans and jars and boxes of food down to the basement, and left them near the recycling area, where people leave TVs and shelving units and other things they don't need anymore and don't have the time or energy to coordinate an official donation. Maybe the super's wife knows of a local church with a soup kitchen.

I "donated" things in this manner, which I probably shouldn't have, because I realized that I didn't have enough boxes to pack them. Like my TV. It's an old TV, from 1990, but it's still got a great picture, and has all the connectors on the back one could need. Sure, G has a TV. Sure, I can always buy another one, cheap. But I THREW OUT MY TV, PEOPLE.

I also threw out, for the same reasons, my 1993 Pioneer CD player (single disc), my 1988 VCR (that was ready to go), and a blue Murano Glass vial that Perfect K had given me for my birthday when I was in college. Again - nothing that can't be replaced. Electronics evolve, and Perfect K has given me TONS of nice things. But... my hand was forced. I think what I feel about that is resentment.

Not a good way to start a new life with someone.

In the end, G came to understand that there was no way I alone could carry a computer tower and a monitor two blocks by myself to be shipped, or five bags another two blocks to the Salvation Army. And even if I had five arms and could lift 200 pounds, I'd never get all of it done over a lunch hour. He grudgingly agreed that it all had to come to his place, if just for one or two nights, and we would process all the donating and shipping in Nyack.

It tried to balance my resentment with my guilt, sitting in the passenger seat, as we made three trips back and forth from the upper west side to Nyack that night. We crossed the George Washington Bridge 6 times in 3 hours. The last two trips, I waited in the car at the curb while G ran up and down the stairs loading the car. He returned quite sweaty and I knew he was working off frustration. Whatever it takes, I thought to myself. At least he has a way of expelling his inner torment.

When the last of my stuff was loaded, and the apartment was truly empty, G pulled out onto Broadway. "Did you leave your keys?" I asked. "Nope," he said grumpily. "They're my keys, I cut 'em, I'm keeping 'em."

"Ok..." I said, "but did you leave the apartment unlocked?" G stopped the car. "We have to leave the place unlocked, sweetie."

"Your super doesn't have keys to your apartment!?" He was furious. "Goddammit, this city is determined to keep me here!" He screeched the car back around to my apartment. I was more than a little nervous. He was really mad.

I started to undo my seatbelt. "No, I'll go," He barked. I froze in my seat. He exited the vehicle, disappeared into the building, and came out again a few minutes later. We were off.

I looked out the back window at my apartment and waved goodbye. I was determined not to let him see me cry. He has always hated this city. I have always loved it. This was not how I wanted to leave it.

But I did.

We unloaded some of my things into his apartment, but left most of it in the car for the night. We were just too tired. We fell asleep fast. I felt numb. I was sad, and scared. Marge was meowing her confusion, looking at her new litter box, looking at me getting ready for bed, wanting snuggles. "It'll be alright baby," I said to her softly.

When G and I finally went to bed, he was surprisingly tender. He wrapped his arms around me softly and buried his face in my neck. I let myself cry just a few tears. He hugged me, and our muscles seemed to ache in synchrony. We both ached in some way, for different things.

When I rolled away from him and curled up to sleep, he spooned me, and I held his hands as I began to succumb to exhaustion. He kissed the back of my head, and I relaxed. We were speaking a language to each other that we have developed over a long year together. I felt the comfort in his arms, and felt him taking comfort in the feel of my skin and my heaviness in his grasp. This... this is how it's supposed to be.

"Welcome home," he murmured.


riye said...

welcome home indeed. *hug*

Kayo Kid said...

As I sort and pack this weekend in preparation for our move, I am repeating over and over your fine mantra "Keep, Store, Donate." I have walked in your shoes many times before, doll--and worn them out. (You can always buy new shoes.) As difficult as these experiences are, look at them as opportunities. **hugs** KO