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Moments in Moving


Pack
Pack
Pack some more
Until you’re on first name terms with the new Moving Supply company
On 5th Avenue
Who deliver boxes to your house
Up to twice a day

Become dependant on your favorite Brooklyn deliveries and take-out spots
As you run out of time to cook
These shall be missed:
Vegetarian Paradise
Bonnie’s Grill
Press 195
Olive Vine
Long Tan
Calexico

And, as the fridge empties and there’s no time to shop there one final time,
The Park Slope Food Co-Op
Is already sorely missed

And as the fridge empties some more, and the coffee maker joins the dishes in boxes
Gorilla Coffee and Blue Sky Bakery
Become your morning saviors:
They too shall be missed

As will PizzaTown
Which so often, these last few years,
(Even though it’s your son’s favorite)
Has seemed old-fashioned, staid, and stodgy
But where, with a hunger craving in the middle of packing
They serve up the best Sicilian slice of your life
They call it a Sophia Loren
For reasons you don’t quite understand
But appreciate none the less

The Old Main Drag: 5th Avenue, Brooklyn

Write to your mother
(By e-mail of course: no one sends letters any more)
And ask:
“Shall I throw out…
my tortoiseshell guitar?
my Guernsey diary?
my O Level papers?
my Tenison report book?
My teddy bear jumper?
My list of all the football matches I attended?
My list of all the concerts I attended?
My English notebook from Mr Usher’s class aged 12?
Um, everything else!!!”

And, not knowing that you’re being facetious, she replies:
“I guess everything, always sad looking back at one’s youth but you’re moving
onwards and upwards.”

Except that everything listed fits in one book box
And you have 30 book boxes full of vinyl
So of course there is room for one book box
With all these souvenirs of your youth
Because as a wise person says at the iJamming! Pub
You can always throw something out later
But you can never get it back
If you’ve thrown it out first

This was once an office

Decide that it’s finally time to remove your CDs from their plastic cases
And insert them instead into multi-CD soft-sleeved albums
Realize that with 10,000 CDs this could be a month-long task.
Decide therefore to only remove from their plastic CD cases
those CDs with some form of track listing on them
and which are not part of your A-list
yet which you would like to keep
This becomes a whole new task in itself

The wife asks, as she boxes up the kitchen,
“You will find time to pack other things, won’t you?”

Fill the first two soft CD containers to bursting by using every available slot
The zip immediately breaks when you try to close them up
Why do they say they hold 96 CDs, if they don’t mean it?
Buy one of each available soft CD book case at Office Max to find a size that actually holds the amount it claims
Find that biggest is best
Fill three 224 CD soft-cover cases in about three hours
It’s getting very close to moving day

The wife asks, as she boxes up the bedding,
“You will find time to pack other things, won’t you?”

Start listening to EPs by forgotten British bands
Back from when you were scouting them for a major American label
In the Britpop era
1996
When an awful lot of crap was released
Judging by what you’ve been left with

Throw a lot of these EPs out.
Lament the waste of plastic
And the music industry’s herd mentality

The wife asks, as she boxes up the kids’ rooms,
“You will find time to pack other things, won’t you?”

Embark on a last week of sporting insanity
Knowing there won’t be any more opportunities

5-a-side football on Monday
At Chelsea Piers
Where you score for the 7th game out of 7
Even though your team loses
Against a team of actors
As in, Give them as Oscar
Come home with a badly bruised rib
Inflicted by the only person you’ve played against all season
Whom you would like to punch in the face

The 5k race on Wednesday
In Prospect Park
Your last run as a local resident
Where to your surprise, and delight
Though you run the exact same time as you did three weeks earlier,
(When it was that much more humid and so much hotter)
You win your age group
And bring home your first gold medal of your entire running career
Which seems an almost impossibly perfect way to end
Nine years of running
In one of the most beautiful Parks in the world

Come home with a serious shin splint
Really serious

The Manhattan Half-Marathon
On your last Sunday in the city
Which you decide you will now sit out
To rest your painful shin splint
Until the day before the race
When you convince yourself that your injury has miraculously cleared itself up
Though you know perfectly well
That if you were a professional athlete,
Your trainer would refuse to let you compete
But as you’re only an amateur
There’s no one to stop you from doing yourself serious harm

Set the alarm for a five minutes before six, on your last Sunday in the city
Something you would never do on a weekday
Head to Central Park,
Another of the most beautiful Parks in the world
(Designed by Olmstead and Vaux, who also gave us Prospect Park)
And on a perilously humid morning
Run those deceptively “rolling” hills
With several thousand other people
Many of whom shouldn’t really be competing
If they have to start walking
At mile 4
Though, when you come down to it
None of you should really be doing this
At 7 in the morning,
Should you?
Which is why your time is not great
But it’s good enough to feel good about
And you’re happy that you took part
And that your shin splint is no worse than it was when you set out
And now you would like to take the rest of the day off

Our next door Neighbors will be missed. Actually, we may miss HAVING next door neighbors.

Except, you are hosting this same morning your last ever stoop sale
Offloading unwanted furniture, unneeded electronic equipment, a malfunctioning mixing board, a broken keyboard
Over 1000 records
And maybe 2000 CDs
Lifting the boxes out of the basement
On as humid a day like this
After running a half-marathon
You almost turn into a pool of sweat
And you spend the first hour of the sale
Shirtless
And sweaty
And balding
Singing “Do ya think I’m sexy?”

Experience a strange satisfaction as other people,
at different stages of their own life journeys
Snap up the things you no longer need
A loft bed
Odd old pieces of furniture
The mixing board
(Bought for free, sold for free)
Plant boxes
And tons of music
Though at the end of the day
You’re still left
With eight boxes of vinyl
And around 700 CDs
That you are determined
Will not make the journey with you
To your new home

A neighbor suggests you turn your unwanted CDs into an iPod
By pointing you to the iPod meister
And other similar services
That will take 300 of your CDs
And rip all the music
Onto a brand new iPod
Which they give you
As payment
For the CDs
They then ship overseas.

It’s a great deal
If you don’t want to keep
All those pieces of plastic
Not to mention
The plastic cases.
But of course there’s a catch:
All the CDs must be properly packaged
full length albums,
with visible bar codes
No ‘promo’ stickers or stamps
That’s you screwed

The CDs and records sit in the hallway, awaiting a solution

Attend a farewell potluck dinner in your benefit at your street’s community garden
This same Sunday
That you’ve been up since before six
You could go to sleep now
But you prefer to hang with neighbors past and present
Drink beer and wine
Eat good home-made food
Have a few laughs
Tell some stories
Talk about property prices
Ratner’s arena
The rezoning of 4th Avenue
And with your Louisiana neighbor
Proclaim amazement that New Orleans has been put under mandatory evacuation
Surely this Hurrican Katrina
Won’t wipe out
One of America’s great cities?
Go home tired and a little hazy after as long a day as they come
But happy

Our neighbor Michael, deaf and mute, was (and remains) the block’s watchman. He saved me many a parking ticket by calling outside my window when the street cleaning hours started and finished. Though it’s not possible to have a proper conversation with him, we’ve always ‘chatted,’ and on our final day he stopped me and gave me a big hug. Then he posed for this photo.

Monday morning, in your final flurry of packing and offloading
Start advertising your unwanted possessions
Because you hate to see things go to waste
Or to people who don’t know what to do with them
Place an ad on Craigs List for your broken keyboard
Get three phone calls in 15 minutes
A jazz musician in Park Slope
Picks it up within the hour

The wife’s rusty Schwinn bike?
The same story.
Gone by the next morning
How did we live before Craigs List?

The 600 CDs, few of any resale value?
Sold to the man whose purpose you don’t ask
For a paltry $125
Half the cost of a new iPod
Which he’ll be lucky to get
Knowing how few of these CDs
Have bar codes, proper cases or a lack of promo stickers

The 850 pieces of vinyl
Mostly dance music from the nineties
Which depreciates quicker than a new car being driven out the lot?
Only gets the one phone call
Two days after being posted on Craigs List
From a Williamsburg hipster record dealer

That is,
A record dealer who sells to Williamsburg hipsters
As he puts it
(though he is also himself a Williamsburg hipster
Not that he puts it
That way
Hipsters don’t call themselves hipsters
Even when they are)

The Williamsburg hipster record dealer
Comes to your house
Sits in your hallway
And inspects every single record
In every single box
Over the course of four hours
By which point you’re almost ready to pay him
To take them all away
Which was of course, his intention
Though he’s right when he says
That most of them are hardly worth a dime
Which is all he ends up paying you per record
But at least he’s actually handing you some money
And at least, along the way
You get the hipster to smile
Which is an achievement in itself
Almost as notable
As getting rid of the music

Besides, now you can bring in the movers

A moment of serendipity that makes your move seem like destiny:
Tuesday afternoon, after the street cleaning
Two of your neighbors
Park either side of your own car
Creating just enough space
That when they move their cars the following morning
At your request
The tractor trailer moving truck
Can park right outside your house
Where it stays for the next six hours
(Count them)
As the movers load up your lives

Moving,
They say,
Is one of the most stressful events in your life
This feels true at various points over the last few months
But never as much as your experience with the last set of movers
Nine years ago
Who had you panicked all day
With their wheeling and whining
And misplacing
And dropping
On a simple journey from Manhattan to Brooklyn

But these guys from Loungecraft
Are professionals
Don’t complain about how much they have to load
(Like the 14 boxes still full of vinyl)
Don’t drop anything
Don’t scratch anything
Don’t look at their watches
Don’t even blink at the fact that you have
Two delivery locations Upstate for them
Almost twenty miles apart
Something they didn’t know about
Until now
But then, what’s twenty miles
When they’ve come direct from Atlanta
With 4000lbs in weight from someone in the military
Whose possessions are going
To a military storage base in Connecticut
After they finish with your job
You can only assume that the person from Atlanta
Has been dispatched overseas
But you don’t know for sure
And nor do they
They just get on with the job

The movers, before the day really got going

Even though it’s ninety degrees outside
With high humidity
Still a New York heatwave
And the basement – the one with the 16 boxes of vinyl –
is like an oven
As you learned on Sunday
When hosting the stoop sale

Set off in the car with your son at 4:30pm
Leaving the wife and baby behind
Who you’ll come back for tomorrow
The movers have to take the slow road out of town
Which gives you time to prepare the house
For all the furniture
You hope

Call home and find out
That despite the casual pace and the relative relaxation
You somehow forgot to point out the bedroom closet
The one with all the records for DJing
Another eight boxes of vinyl
You thought that 14 boxes didn’t seem enough
Someone’s got a round trip by car coming soon
Guess who?

Your wife says all she’s eaten today is a packet of fake crab meat from the co-op
Straight from the packet
You look in the fridge and freezer upstate
And all you have
After feeding your son
The last of the veggie burgers
Is a box of fake buffalo chicken wings
That you’ve put off opening for months
You cook half of them
Eat them in five minutes
Decide you’re still hungry
And cook and eat the rest
With nothing on the side
It feels like a long time since you sat down for a proper meal

The moving guys finally show up in the hills
At ten o’clock at night
They promptly lose two tire treads
Trying to reverse their tractor-trailer up your steep driveway
Before driving half a mile
Till they can turn around
And come up the front way

They unload until two in the morning
With you trying to keep track of where everything’s meant to go
(Where’s the wife when you need her?
That’s right: at home with the baby packing up the small stuff)
You’d be worried about keeping the neighbors up
…If you had any.

“Are there any wild animals round here?”
Asks the youngest of the movers,
“I just heard some branches cracking in the woods.”
“Probably just a bear,” you reply
Deliberately unnerving him
Though it could well be true

The movers sleep in the truck cab for five hours
You sleep in a bed
And when you get up early to continue unloading
You are so tired
You can barely think
Of anything
Except:
Isn’t coffee is a wonderful thing?

Drive the twenty miles from Hunter to Phoenicia
Unload all over again
Into your new office
The one you’ve got all to yourself
With kitchen and bathroom,
Storeroom and bed
Deck, porch and garden
And a Post Office just over the road
That actually accepts courier packages
And already knows your name
You’re so close
That they don’t deliver to your house
They give you a free P.O. Box instead
Why does that seem so much more sensible?

The Village Post Office: where everyone knows your name. And they actually accept packages from their competitors. I never took a picture of the Post Office in Brooklyn. It was like a War Zone in there.

Your son proves good fun
All day long
He’s been so easy going about the move
And the change of school
And the quest for new friends
He’s happy to just roll with it
“I can’t wait for winter,” he says
Though today’s another hot and humid day
(But a little Less hot and humid up here)
“We can go snowboarding again”
You make an agreement:
Every snow day at the new school
Will be a snow-boarding day
Just because the school buses can’t make it to school in deep snow
Doesn’t mean you can’t make it to the mountain
Does it?

The movers head out at lunchtime
With the biggest tip you’ve ever given
They’ve earned it
And you’ve earned a celebration
Lunch at Sweet Sue’s with Campbell
The aforementioned Brooklyn restaurants may be sorely missed
But you don’t have to live in the City
To eat great food

Introduce yourselves to a waitress
Tell them Campbell’s starting at school next week
Watch her face light up: she’s just put two kids through the place
And she thinks it’s the best
She welcomes you to the community
And you feel all warm and fuzzy
And you wish you could stay in your new office
And put your feet up on the porch
With a beer
And watch the sun set
But you have to drive back to the City
Where your wife and baby are waiting
For you to continue cleaning up
Before heading out the following day, Friday
For good

Rejoice quietly that the closing has just been put back a few days
Because if it hadn’t, you would be up all night
And would have to cancel a farewell dinner at your friends
Which you are really looking forward to
An hour after getting home

Which is later than you planned, because
For the first time in a long time
You have to pull over, put the car seat back
And just close your eyes for a few minutes
Then buy your fourth cup of coffee of the day
Damn, but this moving is tiring

Back home, before you can go out for dinner
You have to lift an eight-foot book case
Out of a nook and cranny
Despite the fact it doesn’t fit down the stairs
Or out the door
You somehow succeed
In getting it down the stairs
And out the door
Anyway

How did we live before Craig’s List?
You put out an announcement on the “for free” board
About all the stuff you’re putting out on garbage night
That, again, you don’t want to see go to waste
Like the eight-foot book case
And the “quality but heavy” mirror
And the crappy fax machine
And another odd piece of furniture
But give an inch and they take a mile
Before you leave for dinner you have three e-mails from people asking for a preview
What part of free do they not understand?

Go to your farewell dinner at the house of Brooklyn friends
Who tell you you look “spaced out”
You don’t argue
And when your wife eats three helpings of dinner
Everyone realizes
Just how hungry she really is

Drink lots of wine
Way too much
But tomorrow’s only for clearing and cleaning
(Oh, and for moving)
The worst is behind you
And besides, you have roofs over your heads
And much to celebrate
When others in America
On the Gulf Coast
are in dire straits
A disaster that’s been unfolding all week
As you’ve been coming and going
Listening to the radio
Feeling angry, frustrated, upset
And somewhat helpless
But not entirely
You do what you can do from a distance
As others did after 9/11

A friend’s Playstation will take any kid’s mind off of moving

Your son stays behind with your friends
You sleep on an airbed in an empty office
Be glad you drank lots of wine
Because this is one uncomfortable way to sleep

Wake up more tired than you went to bed
What did you expect after drinking so much wine?
Your first decision of the day:
Gorilla Coffee before a shower
Or after?

Your cat Bixby,
Who, like any cat, normally wonders off at the first hint of unusual activity
And is therefore frequently left outside and home alone for long weekends
Is hanging around
Like this time,
He doesn’t want to be left behind
He comes in on the Friday morning when he’s needed
And spends the whole day in his carry-case
Without a single complaint
Cats are intuitive like that

Handle e-mail
And maintain the web site
All Friday long
From the kitchen
Even with the phone cut off
Isn’t technology amazing?

Your final deposit on the street:
The JVC boombox you got when you were 18
The one with the flip-out turntable
That stopped working years ago
But which always looked cool
And stayed in the kitchen these many years since
It’s out for 15 minutes
Before you see a middle-aged Hispanic guy
Stop, pick it up, look it over
And you go outside and tell him
That it kind of works
And is kind of broken
And he says, “Don’t worry, I fix it”
And wanders off down the street
Holding that first big purchase
You ever bought for yourself
And you wish he would just
Put the boombox on his shoulder
To make the picture perfect

They don’t make them like they used to: my first real purchase of any real consequence was in service over 20 years. Here it is going begging on a New York street, an appropriate farewell for a boombox.

Get round to checking on your son
On what is now his second 24 hour sleep-over play-date in a week
He’s been allowed to roam the streets in his last month here
As he never did
In all the years you previously lived in the City
Put together
All of a sudden he’s learned how to
To go to the shops to buy cat food, or pizza, or rice and beans
And been trusted to go visit his friends,
Like you did when you were young
And living in a big city
Except that as parents you worry aloud
How you could never forgive yourselves
If something happened to him
On his last few days in New York
Just because you were too busy
To run to the shops or take him to his friends
Yourselves
So you call over to his final play date
Where he’s been hanging out since you went over for dinner
And say that rather than him walking home like he walked over there ahead of you
You’ll pick him up
You ask if he wants to be brought back to the house
To say goodbye to the only place he’s known as home
And he says, “No, I did that already”
Without a care in his voice
And you remember how it felt to be 9
And free
For a moment

Load up the car to bursting point
Complete with son, baby, cat
And fighting fish
Which is sitting on your son’s lap
In a Tupperware bowl
With a lid on it
Just like something out of the movies

It’s six o’clock on a Friday night
And you’re heading upstate
Just as you often do
On a weekend
And so in a way, the journey out of town feels entirely normal
Except this time you won’t be coming back
And that feel extremely strange

As you pull out of your parking spot
A neighbor peers in the window and sees you all set
And asks
“So how does it feel?”
And you say,
“It feels right.”
And it does.

The new Main Drag: Main Street, Phoenicia

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Discussion

3 Comment(s)

  1. Kevin

    12 September, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    Tony,

    I hea ya…and may I play along…

    Call lawyer, wonder why you have not heard from his office
    After all, closing is five days away
    Office returns call…
    Closing put off an extra week
    Don’t complain – truth be told, need extra time to pack
    Call U-Haul – meet little fuss about rescheduling

    Two days before closing…

    Get call from Lawyer – can’t find closing title to initial mortgage
    Inquire, “what does this actually mean?”
    Not stunned by reply, “deal falls through if not found!”
    Frantically search file cabinet
    Inform Ladylove, what is happening
    (Realize, never could hide anything from her – and think, what is it
    about mothers and wives and this mysterious know all — must be something about diamonds)
    Frantic search leads to draws, closets, and boxes

    Ladylove takes over…

    Turns out, we never received termination letter
    Ladylove explains to ‘Jenny’ from CitiMortgage
    who happens to have an Indian accent (apparently, one
    of those jobs Americans don’t want so it must be outsourced)
    what needs to be done
    Jenny can’t help – she tries to avoid confrontation
    Ladylove, being German, thus built for confrontation
    does not back down
    Jenny transfers Ladylove to high ranking CitiMortgage rep
    back in Maryland, USA
    Citi-rep pulls through – closing on schedule…

    Which means time to finish packing and cleaning
    The Ladylove is way ahead of the game
    Realize the German stereotype is true
    Efficiency and Order always…

    Speaking of order – Ladylove orders me to clean out shed
    So, I begin the task of sorting and cleaning
    Everything is running smoothly
    Look in corner to see I missed a brush
    Wonder aloud, “how did I miss this brush?”
    Go to pick-up brush
    Touch brush, and for some reason brush moves
    Kneel down and inspect situation…

    Look eye-to-eye with a living creature that happens
    to wear a white stripe from the tip of the nose to the
    tip of the tail…
    Oddly enough keep my kool ’til I exit shed
    Upon reaching the safety of open air
    let a BIG SCREAM OUT!!!
    Then give thanks to the Lord that the skunk did not
    spray me…

    Wait for skunk to leave…and wait…and wait…
    and wait…and wait…and wait…and wait…
    Skunk does not leave…

    Start packing U-Haul with (unemployed) cousin
    Realize there will more than one trip
    Drop items at first location – a cousin’s garage
    Head back to house – Pack U-Haul
    Realize there will more than two trips
    Drop items at second location – a different cousin’s garage
    Head back to House – Pack U-Haul
    Say to self, must factor in money (the next time) to hire
    a MOVING COMPANY…
    Drop items at third location – a friend’s garage
    Head back to House

    Skunk still there…

    Call it a night and head to Mom and Dad’s with family
    for a week’s stay before closing on ‘the purchase’…
    Head back following morning and finish off the job…

    ‘Sale Closing’ goes through without a hitch…

    Live out of suitcases and boxes for a week…
    Tread softly around Ladylove – knowing NO ORDER means
    TROUBLE…
    Luckily enough, Ladylove is quite agreeable
    Watch kids run wild within Grandma’s domain
    Try to discipline
    Lose battles, since Grandma and Pop-pop are acting as
    their lawyers, judge, and jury
    Act a bit amazed at how kids know their parent’s answer
    to a higher authority…go with the flow…
    After all, must save energy for move number two…

    Receive call from Lawyer
    Seller wants to push ‘purchase closing’ back two days
    Inform Lawyer, “no way!”
    Lawyer pulls through…

    Day of purchase closing…

    Head to U-Haul
    Notice the 7:00pm end of operations time
    Promise to have truck returned by 7:00pm
    Head-out to first garage
    Pack truck more wisely – head to second garage
    Place two garages worth of items on one truck
    Act all pleased with myself for leading the way

    Head to ‘purchase closing’ – spend 90 minutes signing my life away
    Head to back to new home – begin unloading
    Finish unloading – head to friend’s garage
    Load up and head back to new home – unload
    Look at watch and realize it is 6:10

    Factor in RTE 17 traffic and stopping for Diesel
    and come to the conclusion, should make it to U-Haul with
    15-minutes to spare…

    Pick-up Ladylove and carry her across the threshold
    Listen to son laugh…
    Head out down the road…

    Sit in traffic…sit in traffic…sit in traffic…

    At 6:50 pull into Gas Station
    Let (unemployed) cousin fill the tank
    Run across RTE 46 to U-Haul, and explain situation
    U-Haul decides to enact strict policy
    Plea with U-Haul – inform them, I am heading to Germany
    the following day…U-Haul becomes agreeable…

    Wait outside for cousin…
    Cousin pulls truck into U-Haul 6:57
    Mistaken lights out for strict policy
    Cousin enters what seems to be a roid raig
    Screaming, “it is 6:58 by my f-ing watch!”
    U-Haul counters, “it is 7:02 according to the computer!”
    Before I can act as buffer, he is informing U-Haul reps that he
    will place them in body bags and coffins before the day is done

    I realize why cousin is out of work…

    Plea with U-Haul, once again…U-Haul listens to civility…
    WHEW! – would have hatied explaining situation to Ladylove…
    After all, there must be ORDER!

    Head back to parent’s house…meet-up with Ladylove and kids, laugh about the uh-hem, exploits…
    Head out to dinner with parents – celebrate the ‘purchase closing’
    the old-fashioned way – pints and more pints…

    Childhood best bud walks through pub door
    Head to Germany slightly unwell…

    BEST OF LUCK!
    – Kevin –

  2. 12 September, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Kevin

    That absolutely cracked me up. And I thought our move was not without its troubles!

    I just have to ask – are you allowed time off for good behavior at your company or were you just able to knock this out in your lunch hour?

    Either way, nice one and good luck with settling in to your own new place

    Tony

  3. Kevin

    12 September, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Tony,

    A little of both — I started on my time and ended on theirs…it is a give and take relationship — you know, I give and they take (drum snap please)…

    I am feeling a bit tired today — yesterday, I rearranged my garages (have two now) into proper order — of course, the Ladylove was involved (lol)…we are still in the process of moving-in…we opted to keep most furniture in the garages while we paint the rooms — easier and more efficient (lol)…

    The young man is settling-in — today, was his first day of STATE CONTROLLED THOUGHT CONTROL (lol)…yes, he started Kindergarten…he was a bit unruly the past six-weeks — turning a deaf ear and acting like a clown while at Grandma’s and Germany — BUT — now that he has a routine again, he is behaving like his ‘oldself’…

    Anyway, glad to hear Campbell is excited about a fresh start…I remember as a 7-year-old starting over (lol) — the Bronx to Limerick to Suburbia, NJ — I think it was around that time that I started talking to myself and, of course, answering myself (lol)…now wonder I did not have any close friends ’til the following year :-) …

    Be well and stay safe,
    – Kevin –

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