Oh geez. The last week or so has been crazy. I'm on the move again, not too far, but the work is still work, packing up my life and, this time, deciding what stays and what comes-with. I'm not taking much this time.
Since I returned to Long Island from my life down South, I've been living with a family member. An okay space, space-wise, but lacking in some necessary aspects for a good-life lived Adrienne-wise. No tub. No proper kitchen. I've made do with showers (long and hot), and with snack food, protein shakes, and take-out (hooray for pizza delivery - the real kind of pizza, the New York kind, not the Dominos-PapaJohns-PizzaHut crap you get in other parts of this great country of ours. You know, the stuff the serve up in the "Real America"). Yeah, delivered pizza, straight from the oven to the door has been a highlight of this lonely gal's life. Sometimes, the simple things are best.
So I've been living here, in close proximity to a family member but still separate, and I've learned more than I ever wanted - or needed - to know about how this particular family member lives his life. Odd. Quirky. Bewildering at times. Maybe even dangerous. But we all make our choices, and, ultimately, have to live with them. Lord knows I've made some bad decisions over the years, and thought they were good at the time. My judgment floats. It doesn't stick. Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing (I'm long lapsed and never to return), but I'm a firm believer in redemption. I believe there's hope for all of us. None of us are condemned. As long as you live, there's a chance to make good.
But yeah. Moving. As much as it's tiresome to be doing this yet-again, I knew from the move-in that it was temporary. Although the notice was short, it's time to move on and I'm curious about what comes next. I am - wait for it - moving in with my Dad ("The Widower and the Divorcee" - yet another real-life phase worthy of a sitcom; preceded by "My Two Husbands" - parts one and two, and more recently, "The Feminist and the Misogynist"). My familial benefactor needs this space back and since I've been living here at his largess (as a "freeloader," according to my Dad, after he ruled out "tenant" - because I do not pay rent - and "guest" - since no guest unpacks books and off-season clothes), it's time to go gracefully (and leave no trace behind).
Honestly, I'm been grateful for the moving project. I've been bumping along since I returned to Long Island, with no anchor and no goals. Just day to day, week to week, month to month living (and how did it get to be almost November?!). So to have a task, nay - TASKS! It's been a pleasure. The great work started on Sunday, when I spent six hours cleaning out the double garage (I'd call it a two-car garage, but I'm not sure a car has ever been in it). It was not a selfless gesture; I needed the space to store the bulk of my stuff - so I will, for the record, declare my gratitude for a place to put all the flotsam and jetsam of my scattered life, saving me the dollars and the hassle of moving it beyond thirty feet. And I've been very grateful for the place to rest my weary head night after endless night for the last eleven months.
So, for the projects, this cleaning and packing and stacking, Thanks. My ex-husband, while working on his dissertation (a long slog), would return home and be grateful to wash the dishes. "The Zen of the Small Task," he called it. A job done and over, a finite end. Hands swiped and dried. The sink clear. The dishboard evidence of a job well done.
There's nothing like packing to feel done. Boxes sealed and stacked. Walls cleared. The rooms echoing with emptiness. I am ready for this move. I'm not so sure about my cats.
My dad lives with two cats and one rowdy, unruly, and spoiled dog. A collie-chow-somethingorother mix. A big boy, maybe sixty pounds. He jumps, begs, barks, and chases. The cats of the household are used to his foolishness; they preceded him. Moe is a fighter and takes none of his crap; swats at his nose like a boxer and sleeps out of reach. Minky (so-called because she's soft like one) is REALLY FAT (like crazy, like unhealthy, like can't-lick-her-own-butt which is a necessary cat-thing to do, though she's better since she started going outside), but she's learned to deal with the dog by playing like a piece of furniture and staying put when he comes at her. "Hssssssssst," she says. "Leave me alone. I'm just waiting for some food." He obeys. He leaves her alone.
But my girls: they don't know dogs. And what they do know, they don't like. In fact, my cats don't know and don't like other cats. Here, in this temporary gig, they have hissed at and tortured the resident cat (who I allow to visit my spare domicile, and who I like very much; a stray that my cousin found at JFK airport when he was a mere fluff of a kitten, and who holds his birthland moniker: Kennedy. Me, I just call him Jack). My cats are ferocious when it comes to Jack, but without front claws and a natural state of fear of loud barking beasts, I don't think they have much of a chance when it comes to Teddy. Keeping the household peace will mean keeping the household animals sequestered.
So to the basement we go! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Big loser me. Living again (see 1994-95) in my parents' basement (though not "parents" this time; just the one). Me and my cats, we're returning home (they lived there 1998-99 - when I moved to Philly and couldn't bring them straight away; my folks put them up for a year - and renamed them. From Iphigenia and Electra to Fluffy and Speckle). I have to keep them down there (it is a finished basement) in order to keep them alive. And if I don't sleep down there with them, they'll be all alone all the time (because I do not intend to set up camp down there; I did that once. That was enough). And I adore them. They've been with me for most of the last twelve years, and through the last six moves.
In twenty years (excluding the eighteen years spent growing up on - and dreaming of getting away from - Long Island, in the house I'm about to move back into), I have moved fifteen times and lived in five different states. Some of those were short jags (changing dorms in college; a year-here, a year-there in the years during and afterward). The longest stretch was in Philadelphia. That was five years. Then New Orleans. I lived there four years. During college, I lived two years in the same place. Ditto grad school: two years in one house. So, if my math is right, for thirteen of twenty years, I lived in four homes. And over the remaining seven years, I lived in eleven different places. How is that even possible?
Yet it certainly explains how good I am at this moving business. Pack. Stack. Go. I got it down.
And more than anything in the world, I want a home. It was the greatest heartbreak of my life when New Orleans drowned. I thought I had found my home. And then it washed away. My fear was the chaser. I ran away because I though I'd be next. I thought I'd drown too. My home didn't feel so homey anymore.