Apr 10, 2007

105 Steps to Home

This is the thing about stuff. Stuff multiplies. No matter how much stuff you sell, give away or pitch, you end up with more stuff. Take two adults, and your stuff multiplies exponentially.

Fortunately I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff. I moved a lot from January 2003 to January 2005, going back and forth between LA and New York. Nevertheless I had useless stuff hanging around. In all these months we’ve been looking for a new place, I could have been sifting, sorting, winnowing and packing. But no. Did not do this.

We had from Wednesday night to Saturday morning to get ready to move. My Thrusday was already booked, though. I was babystting during the day, and I had a reading to perform at Thursday night. Then a friend called, needing help with a film treatment. So I babysat, helped with her treatment, and performed. I got home at 10pm. I know had about 36 hours to pack.

I must have been going from 8:30 am Friday morning to 1am Saturday morning. We had to get our truck at 7am. While I was packing upstairs, Larry went down to pack up the garage. Late in the evening I went down to see what things looked like. My heart sank. There was so, so much stuff. And me, I want everything in a neat box. You know, if people are going to come help us, all the boxes should be the same size. Or at least, everything is in a box. But it wasn’t like that. A speaker here, a space heater there.

Don’t look at it, Larry cautioned me. I know how you get. Just relax, it’s going to be OK.

I don’t know how marathon runners deal with a race, but I must have felt that same dread and anticipation, because I just wanted it to be OVER.

We got the truck without a hitch. But when backing it into the driveway, we miscalculated the house awning and backed into our landlord’s roof gutter. CRUNCH. Just what we needed. Thankfully it was just a small section. Hope we clicked the box for insurance.

Our friends came to help us. No, not freinds; amazing superhero friends. Mike Maguinez, Doug Perkins, Eric Waterhouse, and Michael Corwin.

“Wow,” Doug remarked when looking at our apartment. “You’re really packed up!” He expected the apartment to have odds and ends. But it was empty.

So our heroes packed up the truck. I was dreading the sound of another crunch or a yelp or a “call 911.” But they packed up without another hitch.

Larry and Mike drove the truck. They’d make a quick pit stop at the Salvation Army just eight houses away, leave off the things we were getting rid of, then meet us at the house.

After an hour, Larry and Mike had not arrived at the new place. I called Larry. Apparently Salvation Army wouldn’t take our stuff. They drove to another Salvation Army in Santa Monica, and the foreman didn’t even want our stuff before they opened the truck. So by the time the truck did arrive, it was nearly 2pm. And the back end of the truck was still filled with our giveaways.

The worst part was still to come. The unload. The new house is 75 stair steps up from the street. 105 steps if you count the flat walkway sections the architect designed to avert heart attacks.

We tried to do a relay setup, but after only 45 minutes with full staff, we had barely got the truck unpacked with the crap no one wanted. And w were about to lose three guys to previous commitments.

Go hire some day laborers, we decided. So Larry and Doug went to Home Depot to grab somr more men.

After some time I realized Larry had come back, only I didn't see much movement on the stairs. Larry had returned, without laborers. They'd come, taken one look at the stairs and wanted 80 bucks a piece. We didn't have the cash to give them, even if we wanted. Which we didn't.

"I’LL DO it for 80 bucks," Larry had said.

I was ready to despair. Last time I’d been down to street level, we must still have half of the stuff to haul up. I felt like Sisyphus. I went to my relay station and there were two boxes for every one I’d seen before.

So it was down to Larry, Eric and me. But we did it, Larry, Eric and I. Eric was our new hero. Not only did he keep going, he kept up his spirits, he even had the energy to crack jokes.

Finally at about 8pm, we had everything up off the street.

Larry celebrating by ordering pizza. He never eats carbs, not in the form of a pizza. While Eric and Larry were gone getting pizza I took a hot shower (never felt better) and then went upstairs to change. From our room I could see the lights of Eagle Rock, the San Gabriel mountains looming off to the northeast. Wow. This view was worth the effort. Almost.

I don’t remember when Eric left, but I know that we owed him every hour of sleep we slept that night. Without him, we would have been still hauling boxes after midnight.

When Larry and I fell into bed at around 11pm, I realized I’d been moving since Friday morning. I don’t know how my body found the energy to do it. But I realized how much of it I’d used by the next day. I couldn’t move.
But we had to return the truck at 7:30 Am. Not only that, we’d left two additional crappy couches at the old apartment. So we had to go get them, put them in the truck, and stealth-dump them. Which we did. I’m not saying where.

Want to get breakfast? Larry asked.
I mumbled something that sounded like ‘yes,’ because we ended up at a diner eating eggs. They were good but all I could think about was rest. We went back to our new house and slept.

Late that afternoon, Larry’s friend Dave and his wife Heather came to visit. They live in Colorado but were in town for a wedding. Dave was Larry’s best man in our wedding. And if we had anything like ‘soul mates’ in a couple, it would be Dave and Heather. I’ve only known them since I’ve known Larry, but they are such great people. Larry and Dave are very much alike, as are Heather and me. The four of us hung out on the deck, ate stinky cheese and admired the view. They were the perfect people to help us christen our new place. That’s what great houses are for: a place to bring friends to hang out. This is the first place Larry’s lived in that he felt proud to bring people over. I’ve had nice apartments and entertained, but this was our first place together. And it sure felt good


Anonymous said...

Having moved once every 4 months for 5 years thanks to my university's co-operative education system, I can really appreciate this. Moving is never fun, but the setting up process truly is. I hope you enjoy setting up your new place.


Annina said...

Very cool story. And lovely to have you back online!!

Now go rest!!

Doug Perkins said...

Glad you got in - now NEVER MOVE OUT! ;-) Looking forward to some parties there...as long as it's just one trip up the stairs and one trip to leave...

Stephanie said...

lordy, lordy!!! Did you two bring up any BenGay or Tiger Balm in any of those boxes? (The whole thing puts me in mind of film noir - doesn't Bogart turn up with bandages on his face - in an apartment up on a hill - looking for Bacall?)

Rhea said...

Congratulations! Nice deck, too.

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