I'm having a little get-together tonight, and I've posted this sign on my kitchen wall. My packing efforts have devolved into a ridiculous jumble. There's a box in my car right now with antique bowls, cowboy boots, cleaning stuff, lingerie, sewing supplies, and books. Whatever system I had is gone. I'm sitting here with a beer, digesting my lunch of scrambled eggs and ketchup. I have been eating my way through my pantry and refrigerator since March. This is what it's come to. I have a hug bag of garam masala, some good asagio, and three more eggs. Please somebody stop me.
Tomorrow I'll drive to the new place and empty my car, drive back, and then Sunday I'll drive up again with my friend S. who has volunteered to pack the champagne goblets and whatever else is left in my kitchen. I'm gloating a bit. How many of you have had a Ph.D. pack your kitchen? Joining us will be other members of my personal circle of intelligentsia hauling potted plants from my patio.
And tonight a writer I admire very much is bringing one of her cakes--because she is also a professional pastry chef. Writing that sentence makes me feel like I've wasted my life.
Monday the movers come. I'm using the same company that I used five years ago when my life as a big L.A. lawyer's wife came to an end. I wonder if the moving company will send the same guys. In any event, I'm picturing this move to be more like a happy-soul-soaring circus with flying acrobats than a Chekovian nightmare.
Here's what I wrote back then about that.
Moving should not be a complicated affair. My boxes are packed, stacked and sealed. Most of the furniture is too big to fit in my new place, and the few things I’m taking, I’ve already tagged with blue painters’ tape. I’m ready. But when the movers come on the first Sunday in November, they’re Russian and their accents undo me. It’s Chekov’s Cherry Orchard here in my living room only its too much money that’s taken my house away. I think of the character of Lubov weeping as she leaves her estate crying for her youth and her happiness and her trees. I have pruned, picked and eaten from every fruit tree in my backyard: guava, loquat, lemon, orange, grapefruit, tangelo, plumb, pomegranate, fig. They might as well be chopped to the ground like Chekov’s cherry trees because I know Mr. Ex will neither tend them nor harvest their fruit. As my great-grandmother’s Victorian rocker and the oak armoire I bought for Mr. Ex's suits right after law school are loaded into the truck, I begin to sob.
“I need help,” I say when my friend Tom answers the phone. I’m standing in my front yard barely able to choke out the words; it’s Sunday morning and his voice sounds as if he still has cards in his hand and a cloud of cigarette smoke over his head. “I’m sorry,” I say picturing him in pajamas.
“Sandy and I are just getting up,” he says. “Give us a little time and then we’ll be over.” As soon as I hang up, my friend Patricia calls. She’s getting divorced, too; she might have to move soon herself.
“I’m coming over,” she says. I go back in the house, relieved. But I feel sick and my mid-section is cramping. My kidneys hurt and when I go to the bathroom, there’s blood in the toilet. Not a lot of blood, but I’m sure I’m dying. I go out to the patio and sit by the pond and rock in the glider. I’m dying. This fucking move and this divorce will kill me. I call my friends Karen and Sharon who’ve just moved to Portland, and sob on the phone while Karen calls me, “sweetie.”
“Just talk to me,” I sob, “until they get here.” I tell her that Tom and Sandy and Patricia are coming. That I’m sick and might be dying, that C and M will be motherless. Orphans, really. The God I don’t believe in is punishing us, I tell her. Mr. Ex will die of a stroke, and I’ll die right here on my patio, crying.
“Hold on,” Karen says, “Your friends are coming.” The movers are loading stacks of boxes onto dollies. I can see my dining room and living room through the French doors that open to the patio. I can see straight through the emptiness to the bay window past the giant magnolia trees and into the street. Karen and I talk until Tom and Sandy pull up at the curb.
Sandy is the sort of person who would never show up for a friend in need without food, and it takes two hands to carry the big pink box she’s holding. “I brought donuts,” she says in her Kentucky drawl. Tom hugs me. His beard smells clean like soap, and suddenly I’m hungry. I devour chocolate frosted cream filled pastries, one after the other. Patricia comes with cheese and crackers, and when the doors of the moving van are slammed shut, our three cars caravan to my new place.