Life in a Hundred Boxes

flyby-1536895The moving van is outside the Toronto house, ready to load our possessions for the trip to Kingston. I’ve spent months preparing for this end to my 43 years of living here. Harvey, Frank and I moved into the house when Harvey and I were in our 30’s and Frank was in kindergarten. We were the young folk. Most of our neighbours were older. Over the years, more young couples with children moved in and we watched our older neighbours move out. At last our son and his friends grew up and left home. People our age were downsizing and moving. We were among the very few originals left on our friendly cul de sac. Here’s what I’ve written in my memoir, Aging and Staying in Charge of Your Life.

Yesterday a whole team of packers arrived in a huge moving van. For the rest of the day men in bright blue shirts were all over the house, wrapping and packing the contents of the kitchen, the bedroom and every other room.

“Is this going with you?” they ask, pointing to a cupboard full of Christmas wrapping papers. I dread arriving in Kingston, searching for an item and realizing I’ve left it back in Toronto.

Somebody else is calling me from upstairs. “What about the mirror in the powder room?” a male voice calls out.

“Sure, take it, but leave that little table by the toilet.”

I’m totally concentrated. Really here and now. Mindfulness is imposed on me. Be mindful or go mad with competing demands. Harvey wants me to check in with him about letting go the big wing chair in the recreation room. The stager moved it there from our bedroom. I’ve always liked its shape, but it needs upholstering and it never was a well-made piece of furniture: just good looking.

“We’ll have it taken away by those guys who remove junk.” I say. Harvey agrees and I run off to the next decision-making situation.

By the end of the day my feet ache and my whole body feels like one of the super market’s eviscerated chickens. I’ve lost my sinew. Every part of me wants to collapse in a heap. Harvey and I drop into our king-sized bed for a snooze before going out to dinner at a local restaurant.

Our kitchen is stripped of its usual plates, cutlery and glasses. All we have left is what was in the dishwasher at the time of the invasion: that and what I secreted away in the refrigerator. We can have breakfast. There’s yoghurt, fresh blueberries, milk, and a box of cereal. I don’t want to use the oven, the stovetop or the microwave. They’ve all been cleaned for the new owners of our house.

Today is like “a day off.” A breathing space before the next chapter. Tomorrow, packers come again. This time, they’ll load the rest of our “white man’s burden.” There are garden tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers, rakes, shovels, weeders, hoes and brooms. They’re all hanging from hooks along our garage wall.

At least we have a bed to sleep in. As of Friday, this will no longer be so. On the advice of the moving company, we are packing two suitcases for the movers to take. These suitcases will be put last in the van and delivered to us first. In the meantime, we will stay in the motel we’ve come to know during our visits to find a house in Kingston.

Next Friday I’ll tell you about the week we spent hiding out in a motel while our real estate agents sold our house.

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