The Weight

Ticking items off my to-do list I paused at “paperwork for New Job.”   The large FedEx box that arrived on Thursday was a lot heavier than the envelope I had expected.  Half the bulk was taken up by items explaining life in Montgomery, including the Alabama Driver’s Manual and a real estate magazine so thick that I wondered if everyone in the city was trying to leave.  Was I being counter-cultural AGAIN?

The actual paperwork, although a thinner stack, demanded time to absorb.  This afternoon, as the painters finished up the living room — in a shade that, despite the assurance I got from the gurus at the paint store that Benjamin Moore colors are never discontinued, is NOT the same Oriental Silk I’ve had on the wall that works magically with every item in the room.  The lemony shade that is now on the walls will undoubtedly make it harder to sell the house.  But I digress–I settled in my bed to read through the forms, policies and benefits. 

Which is when I realized that there was a cap on the moving allowance.  In one corner of my mind, I’d figured I would do my best to jettison the obvious jetsam, and haul the rest to Alabama where I could go through it at my leisure.  One of my future colleagues had cheerfully advised me that I shouldn’t worry about weeding out my belongings.  “Big houses are cheap here,” she said, “just bring it all with you!”    

But there, in cold black & white type on the Relocation Policy, I saw ample economic reason to weed, and weed ruthlessly. 

I enjoy weeding.  It’s my favority gardening activity and, twice a year, at the change of seasons, I re-curate my closet.  All my unwise purchases are banished:  out go the shoes whose color I love but which  pinch my toes; into the Salvation Army bag goes the suit with the unfortunate peplum coat; they are followed by sundry articles that no longer fit, recall the 90s too vividly, or have just had it. 

It turns out, though, that my aggressive de-cluttering is limited to my wardrobe.   We have overfull bookshelves in five of our eight rooms.  Despite having adopted the latest audio technology, from cassettes to CDs and MP3, we still possess about 900 vinyl albums.  Mr. NYer hates to throw anything out, and grows visibly despondent when enlisted in spring or fall cleaning.  Our son, the Soon-to-be Abandoned Child, moved out in a minimal fashion, leaving behind all the physical artifacts of his childhood plus three guitars and two amps.  Our basement has the wondrous power to multiply objects while simultaneously making them grimy and damp.  In a mutual bond of  avoidance, we keep it dimly lit and use a machete to maintain a path to the washer.  Lastly, we have a large storage area that runs across the entire width of the house at the back of the attic.  We call it the dark, dark room.  We have no idea what’s in there.   

You can talk about filling a contractor’s bag a day, or spend an evening in front of the TV cleaning out a desk drawer, but none of that is going to do squat to address  the issue of sorting through and getting rid of the  accumulated stuff, which I’ll refer to as the Albatross.  And then there’s the how to get rid of it all.  It’s the wrong time of year for a yard sale, and we don’t have a front yard.  I don’t have time to write clever listings for eBay, Craigslist or Freecycle, or to make the individual arrangements to have Flowerpot Guy pick up all the garden tools.  There’s no market for old books or LPs.  And cleaning out the basement?  A new  definition for eternity spent in hell. Not to mention that every effort to clean out has induced allergies. 

So how do I lose this Albatross?  Is there a diet?

The things to do today

The weekend.  Forget going hiking or taking a bicycle ride.  There are things to do.

The list so far:

1. Wait for the guys painting the living room to return to finish the work they began yesterday.

2. Rent a self-storage place (more on that later)

3.  Sign the paperwork with the realtor to put the house on the market.

4. Clean out some more.

5. Cut back the rose bushes so prospective buyers don’t have their eyes put out.

6. Fill out the paperwork for New Job.

7. Break the news to my hairdresser.

The last item is the hardest.  I’ve been getting my hair cut by this guy for over 25 years.  He knows the weird way the waves start to appear at the 3-inch mark, and the way it curls when it gets longer.  He has helped me grow it long and, when I need a drastic change, cut it down practically to a buzz cut.  About 15 years ago, we decided I didn’t have to give in to my early-onset Irish graying and began to color it.  I almost never tell him how to cut it, or how to alter the shade to fit the season, because his judgement is so much better than mine. 

How will I find a stylist like  that in Alabama?  Will he give me the color recipe?  Will they follow it?  Will I wind up with a bouffant?

Losing Jimmy is more than losing a stylist.  This is a quarter-century relationship.  We’ve both lost parents during that time, weathered illnesses, had major life changes.  We’ve attended parties together, and broken bread together.  He’s come to my house to make homemade pizza.  He’s one of many friends I’ll be leaving.  I dread telling him, especially since, now that I have short hair, he counts on me as a client who comes in every 4 weeks.

Telling friends is hard because it presents emotional issues which I’m trying to keep at bay right now.  I know this is going to be a really hard move at times, but I’ve got too much to do right now.  So I’m putting those emotions in a box and putting it on a shelf.  I’ll take it down when I must — or when the box grows too weighty and falls down on my head.