• Otter Views: Moving the Things

    On a recent visit, the landlord mentioned that possible changes might lie on the horizon for us tenants. While he indicated that nothing was definite yet, I recognized and appreciated an early heads-up sign.

    As a lifelong renter, I’ve learned that any foreshadow of an impending move can simplify future planning, finances and logistics. But dis- cretion is paramount. If The Things hear about the move, they can get overly excited.

    The clothes will start rocking in the closet, swaying back and forth and swinging on their hangers. The shoes clump time down below; big, knobby shoes, but happy, like peasants at a picnic. The belts slap the door like a fistful of eels.

    Out in the apartment, objects stir and creak, straining to leave this place behind: chairs, bookshelves, lamps; a couch, a desk, a table. It’s practically Disneyesque. The faux Afghan rug flutters like a faint heart. Wastebaskets do-si-do across the floor. Draw- ers open and close with the woody creak of berimbaus. Pictures rattle on the walls, and the records sing in their sleeves.

    I can tell when word has gotten out, because the records always sing the same song. It’s the Beatles hit “Something.” Or their version, anyway: “Something in the way you move me, moves me like no other mover . . . don’t wanna leave you now, don’t wanna hear you howl. . . . “

    I regret word may have leaked again, because I caught them singing when I got off work the other evening.

    “So you want to move?” I cried, bursting through the door. That silenced the re- cords, but the wastebaskets were slow reeling back to their places, and the chairs and table kept square dancing.

    “Who wants to move to the Last Chance Emporium?!” I barked. That quieted the furniture, but I could still hear the clothes, belts and shoes rocking out in the closet.

    “Who wants to move to Yellow Brick Road?” I scowled, flinging open the closet door. That shut them up. I whirled to face an ugly brute of a recliner chair that had given me trouble in the past.

    “Who wants to move back to Goodwill?” I challenged, squaring off. The chair is bigger, but I’m meaner – especially at moving time. It rocked abjectly back into its corner. “Salvation Army?” I said next. The couch sagged a little more, and the air around it filled with dust motes. “Do I hear St. Vincent de Paul?”

    I stood panting in the center of the apartment. The Things and I had reached our usual standoff: they happy because they were moving again; I bitter because I would have to move them.

    “None of you is indispensible, you know!” I lectured. But even as I stared them down, The Things smirked and traded glances. They knew the real score: I’ve been their prisoner for years.

    As I contemplate my 48th lifetime move, I’m forced to admit The Things are still grimly in control. Many people feel the trauma of moving is about leaving an old, comfortable place and going to a strange new one, but I disagree. The trauma comes from moving The Things.

    Where do they hide between moves? I mean, you have your little room set up – clothes folded here, pictures hung there, a few books on a shelf, a chair or two awaiting a visitor, a bed, a mirror, maybe some music. In your mind, it’s austere as a monk’s cell. Then you have to move, and a wall of boxes forms as high as The Pyrenees.

    This prompts disdain from more highly evolved people whose entire earthly possessions fit into the boot of a Morris Mini. “You have sooooo much stuff!” they observe. “Why don’t you lighten up your life a little?”

    Actually, I have gotten better, though it might not be apparent. When I was young and married, we had a half-ton stereo system that could be heard on Mars. We had a “California King” bed, matching armchairs and couches, a dining room set, a washer and dryer, a television, a piano, dishes that matched and croquet mallets that didn’t. We needed an entire house just to house The Things.

    Older and much weaker now, I try to exercise prudence. Tables should be collaps- ible; beds inflatable; chairs, lamps, art works and décor elements portable with one hand. Music and books should be borrowed from the library and promptly returned. All non-essentials should be donated.

    So where did all these other Things come from? The three sets of elephant bookends, the guitar and bongo drums, the shelves full of extra blankets, towels and linens? The pantry crowded with dishes, glasses, cutlery and cookware? How did these drawers fill up with headphones and random electronics? Why do I have a closet full of thrift store clothes? And why do they keep following me around?

    I tell you, Things have no sense at all.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 8, 2014

    Topics: Otter Views


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