I follow John, he’s with Berger Moving Company, around my condo. He is surveying my belongings in an attempt to give me a price quote. A new emotional terror has kicked in -- pack up my life, leave my hometown and say good-bye, for now, to my friends and family. Panic subsides when I remind myself that I can always move back. My hometown is not moving anywhere.
“When do you want to accept delivery on your possessions?” John asks.
“December 1,” I reply. I have already booked tickets for my mother and I to arrive into LaGuardia after Thanksgiving. God willing a snowstorm won’t paralyze Minneapolis that day and delay our flight to the next day.
“It takes about a week to truck out to New Jersey. Then they load your things into a smaller truck. Semis aren't allowed in Manhattan. Then there’s Thanksgiving coming and we lose about five days, so can you have everything packed in about ten days?”
“Yes,” I reply.
I already have moving boxes, a dozen rolls of tape, Sharpies, and bubble wrap. I almost moved last year when I didn't think I could live here anymore. While I liked her personally, I had some issues with the Condo Board President who didn't think all the rules, like don't do laundry afte 10:00 pm and before 7:00 am, applied to her.
For the next week I live a very simple but harried existence. I go to work, rush home, work out and pack until 2:00 am. I begin with the kitchen cupboards, wondering why a single woman has 60 drinking glasses, two sets of tableware, 14 pots and lids, two sets of cutlery, and two coffee pots. I rifle through the linen closet and realize I have nine vases, some of which I don’t remember buying. The coat closet has a dozen jackets, which is the only thing I don’t groan at. It’s Minnesota. I don’t bother counting the shoes, I simply toss them in a big box and justify this addiction as a girl thing, reminding myself that Imelda Marcos had over 300 pairs. So what if she was the First Lady of the Philippines.
In the spare bedroom I toss out piles of papers acquired in the ten years I have lived here. I sort through scissors that cut squiggly lines, scrap-booking supplies, unmade scrapbooks, dozens of frames photos of friends and family. In the bedroom I stuff clothes into wardrobe boxes and note that I have 12 pairs of black pants and 15 black sweaters. Have I heard of color?
The day the movers arrive I worry about running into my neighbors, I don't want to talk to them because some of them are sooooo annoying. I don't want them to notice I am leaving, despite the fact that they would have to be blind not to notice a giant orange Berger semi-truck in the back parking lot. It takes four movers an hour to load and tag my things.
As they work, I offer them Diet Cokes and bottled water, apologizing for not drinking anything else. They accept the drinks and tell me that some people don’t even let them use the loo, much less offer a glass of tap water. This seems like a dangerous practice, strangers are taking your things for week -- is this how grandmother's china "breaks" en route?
When they are gone, I walk in and out of the carpeted and wooden rooms of my empty condo, my shoes echo a hollowness across what was once my Midwestern desi life.