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24 May 2011

Zen and The Art of Moving Often


The key to moving is less stuff. I enjoy purging more than acquiring. I sold everything I could from my current house, the sofa, the washer and dryer, two beds, and some bar stools. I made daily trips to Goodwill. Nostalgia isn’t worth as much as cash in your pocket. I bought new furniture. I saved on the moving expenses because the furniture company delivered. I also occupied both places simultaneously and moved in stages, creating the ideal conditions for sterilizing the new home.

Strategically, the first thing I moved was recycled wrapping paper, three thin totes of it to my bedroom closet. Next I moved a plant, a big one. I left it on my kitchen counter, hopefully doing some kind of carbon dioxide, oxygen exchange thing to the air in the place. Of course I cleaned thoroughly first. Not a nice organic clean, but a chemical spill instead. The idea of living in someone else’s stale germs caused shallow breathing, racy blood swelling in my brain, and a dull ache in my left breast.

I usually have a cleaning person handle this, but my wallet suggested I do it this time. After a few hours on my first mission, with plastic gloves and facemask forgotten in the bag on the kitchen counter, entrenched in the depths of my stand up shower, I mixed the concoction, and then I remembered when I was younger on The Today Show or maybe Dateline, a report about people who died from mixing cleaning chemicals in improperly ventilated places. This new anxiety compounded with the bleach, mildew spray, Comet cleanser, and steam drove me from the house in a full blown sweaty palm, call 911, panic attack. After a series of meditative breathing exercises and a healthy self talk, “I don’t want to die today, I don’t want to die today…”, combined with curling up in a ball on my bed, I felt better.

I returned every day for 3 weeks, carrying one thing or another. A Pier One shelf made the cut. Amazon shipped me a front door mat. I bought new seagrass area rugs from Celadon. I mopped the floors and placed a bucket of Murphy’s Oil Soap and an open box of baking soda in the middle of the room.

In keeping with the staying high on household chemicals theme, I spent a few days reviving my wicker porch furniture. Six cans of white spray paint, indented and stained white pointer fingers, and some new cushions, this will be worthy of my new space. I thought a lot about my mother. She made chicken salad out of chicken s@*t every day. I start with organic chickens, no wonder I make gourmet meals. My teacher was a master.

Before

After

I repainted and carried over a toy bench George made for Jake.

John started moving the garage: kayaks, bikes, tool boxes. All very neatly organized in a wall mount system.

Jake walked in and said, "Welcome to Jake's Sporting Goods."

Drilling holes in concrete and hanging toys might be addictive.

Then the 4 Christmas totes for the attic, and a keepsake box for both Abbey and Jake. New blinds, new toilet seats, and more plants bring life to the vacant rooms.

A box or two moved, and a bike ride on the beach. Another box, and I sat on my deck watching the sunset.


Jake and Abbey helped at first. Using his toolbox, Jake removed all the old toilet seats, Abbey installed the new ones.

Abbey wasn't so invested on moving day. Instead, she played paintball for 6 hours with her friends. The next day, while everyone worked...

Abbey retreated to her virtual world.


And Jake wished for his iPod and wi-fi.

Vegetable container garden, beach toys, and winter clothes, all moved in one day.

Container Garden

Beach toys

Alex and John spent the weekend moving my heaviest pieces of furniture, a pine roll top desk, matching armoire, dresser, a cedar chest and two, extra-cumbersome beds. They moved boxes of miscellany and the dining room table too. Alex’s superhuman strength and John’s spidery superpowers made it look… actually it appeared extraordinarily difficult.

At one point Alex had the very heavy armoire resting on his chest and knee. Notice John straddling the banister?

My move in date is tomorrow. My new furniture was delivered today.

Ahhhh, settled in for summertime.


12 May 2011

Trading Sunrises for Sunsets

My new house is very much like my old house; instead of watching the sunrise though, I'll watch the sun set.
When I was a child 40 seemed old.
Monumental birthdays have never had much power over me. Sweet 16 was bitter, 21 was dark, 30 was like 60, so I didn't expect much from 40.
Forty means I look like a teacher on a college campus instead of a student, but this time I like the way I look.
I have more medical screenings now.
I make choices like bangs or Botox.
I think seriously about retirement and my children moving out. Both make me cry.
I forget things on purpose now.
And I don't need a large social circle at all. No more Pampered Chef parties running rampant in my circle, and first weddings and babies and all the parties that go with them are gone. I like 40. I'm not trying to be twenty something.
I'm half way to 80. I wonder how many people get there.
I don't ride my bike without a helmet any more.
And I don't need to prove my self physically, mentally, financially, or any other way.
I eat healthier because I know people battling disease instead of hangovers. Although my closest friends still battle hangovers.
Exercise is for health now, not weight.
I know the difference between what I want and what I need, and at 40 there's not much difference.
All the years that led up to now have taught me that not much matters beyond experience and the lessons woven into them.
At 20, I was in the dark, jumping off tall buildings without a safety net, running, and hiding, seeking someone to fix me. Dangerous.
At 30, I was in the future, hijacking my own dreams, manipulating, and failing, a lot. I needed everything. Insatiable.
At 37 death glared at me, laughing at all my misunderstandings.
I gave up on fixing me and started being me.
At 40, I'm in the present, moving through moment by moment, accepting everything as it is, expecting nothing, having faith, and choosing happiness. Skipping stones across a river. Contentment.

04 May 2011

What did we used to do for fun?


I remember coming home from the hospital with Abbey.
She was born in Summerville, and we had to bring her home to West Ashley.
George drove in the slow lane and never accelerated over 15 mph.
I remember feeling so safe, glad he understood the significance of this car ride.
I remember counting her toes, studying every inch of her skin, learning the expressions, sounds, and smells of this gift.
I remember her father and I arguing over whose turn it was to hold her, whose turn it was to rock her to sleep.
I remember asking, many times, what did we used to do? How did we spend our time? What possibly could have mattered before this fairy, this pixie, this sprite started casting her spells on us.
I remember when Abbey was 4 years old. I told her I wanted to freeze her. She would always be my little 4 year old girl. She promised she would stay.




Everything changes.

She's 12. I want her to stay 12. She still likes me (sometimes). She asks for my advice (occasionally). She giggles (often). She jokes about everything. She knows she's beautiful, but doesn't let it matter. She's changing into a woman. I cry at night wishing my baby would stay, childlike, or at least with me.

I want to bottle her joy, her laughter, her sincerity, her kindness, her love, her wisdom, her humor, her gentleness, her faith and her hope.

I celebrate her life, everyday. She's my little goose, my baby, my mini, her father's joy.