Monday, August 18, 2008

A Single Step Starts With Tying One's Shoelaces

Was I really doing this? I surely wasn't ready. There was no turning back anymore. A great sendoff bash at Piece on Friday night lasted well into Saturday morning. It was the last time I would see a heckuva a lot of people for a heckuva long time. So it probably made sense to keep it rolling until we were finally booted from Estelle's at 5am.
The last ones standing

This set up a week of scrambling that rivaled any complex task I've previously undertaken. Issues with obtaining a visa were probably inevitable, but of course turned out to be a much bigger mess than I could have reasonably anticipated. Instructions from the far-too-thinly stretched HR department at my company probably should have been double-checked by me, but obviously things have been rather busy. I took certain things on faith that I probably never should have. I think I walked about fifteen miles back and forth across the loop in just a few days. By Friday, I was picking up my visa. Other problems included an inability to find my car's title, my will, and probably sixteen other important things that are still escaping my memory. Just try and catch me, lawyers! I'm out of the continent!

Still, with so much rigmarole I was waaaaay behind on packing and cleaning. I went with my brother for one last dinner at Green Zebra and told him that I could use a little help that night. When we walked in the door to my place after eating, he flashed a foreboding grin. What he saw was an utter disaster waiting to happen. But really it wasn't so bad because the movers would pack up anything left in a proper pile. I proceeded to apportion documents and objects to storage, sea shipping, air shipping or the trash. He removed the beginnings of what turned out to be about 40 loaded garbage bags before all was said and done. Then he went about cleaning bathrooms, the kitchen and generally saving my sorry ass. My two hours of sleep, coming on the heels of three the previous night, didn't set me up for a successful move day.

But my 20 winks rejuvenated me enough to press on before the movers arrived. When they showed up to get started, things were relatively in order. That one of them grew up in Buenos Aires I took as a positive omen. These dudes were capable and efficient. They did a fantastic job, packing quickly and getting the whole apartment cleared out by 4:30. As they toiled, I cleaned the rest of the joint - vacuuming everywhere, finishing with bathrooms and desperately trying not to forget anything crucial. It was at this point that I realized I was putting away ten years worth of stuff. There were items belonging to exes, papers long thought to be missing, old photos, and junk I never should have brought home in the first place. When we were finished, the empty apartment was a shock to the system. There was literally nothing left. Quite suddenly, this was the home of a ghost. The slightest sounds reverberated off the naked walls. I finally took a breath - for the first time in a week. Only now did this move seem real.
Bye-bye house

It being a hot August day in Chicago, I had no choice but to take a shower once the movers left. I had about a half-hour before I had to hail a cab to O'Hare. Of course, everything was either packed or in the garbage. Why hadn't I kept just one towel? It was OK. I had just enough time to air-dry and put my sweaty clothes back on. In the hectic day, I'd eaten hardly anything. However, Joyce, my neighbor from upstairs (and cheerfully described by one of the movers as short and very cute) had brought me down a plate of leftovers from the wedding shower she hosted in the morning. This was one of the greatest meals I've had in my life. I'm sure the situation - starving, exhausted, and drip-drying in my kitchen - had something do with it, but I know I'll never eat a quiche that tasty again. I don't even really like quiche, by my goodness was this delicious.

My cab driver was a fellow writer (another positive omen?) who grew up in Wicker Park. We talked about craft, and he gave me a few really good ideas during my last face-to-face Chicago conversation. Well, face to plexiglass anyway. O'Hare was almost as emtpy as my place and I was able to snag three seats together on the plane which helped facilitate a few hours of snoozing. I landed in my new home, the only one wearing shorts and ready for a loooong nap. I don't think I've ever been so tired in all my life. I had a couple groggy recovery days before work would commence. And that's where we'll pick things up next time...

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