a moving day

14 12 2009

I’ve been doing a lot of looking over my shoulder these days.  Moving always does that to me.  This one wasn’t my move but one I fully participated in.  The experience always has me thinking back over the 22 some odd moves the Dr. and I have made…some before Best Boy and Shop Girl were around – but most after.

I was about the age Shop Girl is right now when after 5 moves in less than 5 years I got a taste of a big move.  It was time to pack up our things for our overseas adventure in Spain.  Best Boy was two and a few months – Shop Girl a hearty 7 months old when a semi-truck pulled up to the front door to haul away the air freight shipment I had prepared.  Each box had to be weighed, measured, a bill of lading prepared in triplicate, customs paper work and off it went.  That sentence actually took me months to do and seconds to write.  I remember standing behind a screen door with tears running down my face from exhaustion and fear of a new life I knew nothing about – trying to explain to the 2 year old where all his toys had gone.

That was only the beginning.  I know a thing or two about packing.  The next handful of places never lasted more than 4 years and some as short as 3 months.  I could pack for a week or a month or a year at the drop of a hat.  A dozen years after that first trip over the pond, I watched as the things most precious to us were loaded into a 12 foot sea-worthy container headed back to the States with Spain at our backs.

Not one of them has been pretty.  Some I’ve been glad to move on and leave the particular space with a whole hearted “good riddance” – others with fond tears flowing but none without a good bit of trauma.  Everytime your life is dragged out of the dark cupboards and closets, basements and out from under beds it is traumatic.  To touch everything you own and visually and mentally assess it as it gets prepared for its new place is exhausting.

Shop Girl’s experience last week was no different…except maybe adding the stress of adjusting to less sleep than she’s ever had in her life as the mom of a month old baby and continuing to deal with the whack job of a landlord that started this whole mess. It was no wonder that in a brief pause between truck loads, with no one else around but me and Donny Diva – she collapsed into wrenching sobs when she looked at the chaos starting to take shape as a livingroom and she said, “I’m home!”

I knew what she meant.  She gets to start where it took me forty years to get to.  She gets to give Donny Diva a bedroom to call his own.  She won’t be playing Goldilocks like I did for most of my life.

It wasn’t a pretty move – a smooth move – an organized move.  One small U-haul truck, a handful of able bodied friends and family, the sunshine of a Saturday post-blizzard, the job got done…moving all the personal belongings of a new family from one rented space to their own 6 blocks away.  She has a long winter ahead to organize closets and decide where things should best go.

I wish that all this first-hand experience would have taught me to travel lightly through life.  I fear it hasn’t but I also detect a change.  I’m no longer responsible for Best Boy and Shop Girl’s things.  What is left in the basement will get offered then tossed.  They haven’t asked for it in 10 years – they probably don’t care.  But up until now – I didn’t feel like I had the right to throw away their past – the bits and pieces of the places we’ve lived.  We can’t drive by those apartments, tiny houses  and condos, the place where they planted a tree in the yard, point a finger to remember those days so I chose to drag some pieces with us.  I’m not sorry I did…I’m just ready to move on.

If I have learned anything from this last year of sorting through Billy’s life – it is that disorganization leads to waste…I buy another doo-hickey when I can’t find the one I think I have. In my effort to hold on to things that SOMEONE might need SOMETIME – others could be getting benefit from it now if I’d just get it packed into the car and drive to the closest donation drop box.

Oh, and Shop Girl…I’ll drop off your boxed wedding dress tomorrow.

For good visuals of how I’d like to live from now on..check out Shop Girl’s producer/musician friend Evan Slamka’s video with Marjorie Fair’s Empty Room and then be a good Do-Bee and donate a box of junk you keep dragging around.

to nest or not to nest

12 10 2009

brdFour months ago, while in LA working with Shop Girl, I snapped this picture of a beautifully painted four panel screen hidden in a corner of Evan’s loft/studio.  Four months ago.  Lots has happened since then – most notably Best Boy’s own flight to LA two months ago.

Empty nest.  What does that look like?  So far not what I had expected.  I have dreams of purging and organizing and getting my basement to look like Billy’s looks now.  But it’s only been a week or so since I could check THAT task off my list and I’m a little short in the energy department yet.  It will come – I can feel it building steam.  In the time I’ve had to this point, it means that I can occupy the couch whenever I want but rarely have control of the remote.  See, Best Boy got the Dr. a fat daddy plasma for Father’s Day a few years ago but until he left for LA, the Dr. never pushed for control of the remote.  Now he is sole remote control guy.  Trust me – that is OK by me – as long as I have my computer since anything I want to see can be caught on hulu.com.

It got a little dicey during the latter part of last week when something was up with the internet and our connection to the outside world came to a screeching halt.  It wasn’t pretty around here.  Being self-employed and working from home gets nasty when there is no way to use the computers. Gratefully the stars aligned on Saturday afternoon – a repair man worked his magic and we are back on line.

As the Dr. channel surfed between three different college football games and the President’s Cup golf tournament, I caught up with the blogs I usually follow.  One of my favorite’s is Sweet Juniper! -a lawyer who walked away from his profession about three years ago to become a SAHD (stay-at-home-dad).  His post on the 8th was a reflection of something I’ve spent most of my life thinking about.

I get facebook updates, emails and twitters from friends of mine who are busy doing things that I THOUGHT I would be involved in at this point of my life…but I’m not.  There are days when I can’t even follow some of the goings on because my psyche is too fragile and it gets to me.  I stay away until the waves of jealousy pass like a hot flash in the night.  I get a grip and remember who I am and what I’ve been given to do and NOT do in my lifetime.

As we sit here waiting for a phone call that will change our lives yet again with the start of another new generation, it’s good for me to stop and revisit what I would have done differently to get to where I am today.  And truthfully, the answer I come up with is nothing…I’d change nothing.  Shop Girl and I were having a discussion yesterday about all the places we’ve lived – all the rentals – all the begged and borrowed furniture – all the spaces we’ve called “home” and what a challenge it was to pretend to put down roots in each space.

What have I done in the last 25 plus years?  I’ve been a nester.  That’s been my job – my goal – my main purpose.  Keeping this family grounded enough to function when there has been little or no stability in the typical sense of the word.  Ours has been an unlikely adventure…one that I certainly didn’t foresee.

Nesting.  Where it all began was in a little rental down the street from where we presently live that I remember that strong primal urge to clean everything in sight 29 years ago just before giving birth to Best Boy.  That was probably the last time in my life I really cleaned like that. Now, it’s Shop Girl’s turn as she awaits whatever day is going to be the Awaited One’s birthday.

So if the nesting instinct is what rages through a woman’s just before birth, what happens at the other end of that maternal timeline when things slow down?  What’s the opposite of nesting?

For some  it is when they downsize – buy that condo – travel the world…do what they want to do after years of being tethered.  Others just re-invent themselves and grandparenting becomes the new norm.  There are NO retirement plans here – there is no pension in the Dr.’s line of work so we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing till we drop or get kicked to the curb.  For now, mine looks like a mix of tending to the Mrs.’ nest a while longer, purging mine of years of accumulated journey junk and beginning the new twist of grandparenting.  Best Boy and Mimi give me the excuse of being THAT grandmother who jet-sets to LA whenever she can.  There is already more studio time booked in late January…baby in tow…to finish up Shop Girl’s album.

I won’t be interviewed on the Today’s show any time soon.  There are no book tours planned.  I’ll not be in your neighborhood bookstore doing any readings.  Terry Gross won’t be asking me to sit in for her while she’s away.  Nope – none of that.  My life is extremely rich just as it is.  I am fulfilled being just who I am.  I will just keep my feathers from being ruffled and do what is at hand and see where this portion of the migratory flight plan leads me.