Today marks three weeks we've been living in a hotel room. While we've been here, the weather has turned to a delicious Autumn theme, which would be so much more charming if we had packed our sweaters and coats and rainboots. Three weeks was not the plan, but it's how it turned out. Tomorrow, hopefully, maybe, possibly, we'll actually move into our new place. Maybe. Possibly. I feel like the girl who cried house. I'm trying not to get my hopes up about it, but this morning my brain woke me up at four and immediately commenced imagining every room of that house, everything I'm excited to unpack and put somewhere, the shopping trips we'll need to take to get a few rugs and pieces of furniture. Can you blame me for being excited? It's been a long haul with a fair amount of hopelessness and the most absurd collection of absurd happenings I've ever experienced in a three week stretch. Observe the absurdities:
Scenes of a Move
Scene 1: Late Friday night I pull into a storage unit business where Sam and the movers are unloading the last of our junk. I have a Whole Foods bag of apples, string cheese, and cookies for the menfolk, which I remember to take out of the car. I do not, however, remember my car keys, or my phone, or my wallet. Sam and I spend two hours waiting for a locksmith. I spend it rocking back and forth in the moving truck, shivering, shuffling frantically through radio stations and praying not to break down in tears. Sam spends it in the parking lot, playing the blues on his acoustic guitar. We eat dinner at midnight. We get to the hotel at three a.m. and fall into bed.
Scene 2: I get in the car to drive to the train station to get to work. I put on my sunglasses, plug in my ipod, call my mom, feel like this isn't going to be too bad, that we'll be okay out here. Then I hit traffic. I learn there's some sort of problem on the train line. It takes me two hours to get to work. I repeat this scene, going and coming, almost every day I'm here.
Scene 3: I'm pulling out of the train station, waiting in line to pay my million dollars to park for a day, and my car lurches forward. I think it's busted, that it's broken, that it's died a death. Instead, I've been rearended.
Scene 4: Sam and I are getting ready to go out to dinner to escape the hotel room for a few hours. We go in the bedroom to bid farewell to the kitties (yes, we do that) and notice Sam's cat is sort of trembling and weak. We take him to the vet emergency room. He's okay, mostly. Aside from the diarrhea.
Scene 5: The crying begins. I bend down to pet the cat, Sam's cat, who doesn't like me much but had begun to tolerate some love from me. He hisses. Somehow, this is the last straw. I go in the bathroom to brush my teeth and end up sobbing. Heaving, horrible, loud sobs.
Scene 6: I come home from work and Sam's on the phone so I start dinner in our little hotel kitchenette. I'm holding a spatula when he tells me, "It's over. They've denied the loan." Apparently there's some technicality about Sam's teaching contract: he's paid through a grant the English department at Umass has, and as far as the bank is concerned, grants don't count as income. After three months of telling us they're sure it will work, they're sure it's not going to work. I hold the spatula, which smells like onions, and fold my face into a corner of the kitchen. I cry.
Scene 7: There's a bit of hope, a way we can maybe still get the house, so I buck up. I'm walking through the Public Garden on my way to work the next morning when Sam calls. The hopeful solution won't work. We really won't get it. I stand by the pond and cry, again. I pray, "Listen, we'll give it up. We'll let the house go. If it's not our house, we'll let it go. Are we supposed to let it go?" I don't feel like we're supposed to let it go.
Scene 8: We're in a snooty French coffee shop in Brookline. I spill peppermint herb tea on my cellphone. The snooty French waiter makes it clear, as he wipes up the tea, that I've been an idiot, that I don't deserve to live. I sort of believe him. My cellphone dies.
Scene 9: Sam's driving on the freeway. Rushing between classes and home and the vet and kinko's, he's put off buying gas. He passes a sign that says the tollbooth is two miles away. Then his car sputters and dies. A cop car pushes him into the shoulder and he walks to the gas station.
Scene 10: We're driving to the bank. It looks, again, like things will work out. New mortgage lenders, a new loan application, a new start to the process. We stop at a tollbooth. The window, the one the locksmith broke into, has been acting funny. When Sam rolls it down at the tollbooth, it decides not to come back up. It decides to stay buried completely in the door. We drive down the freeway with it down, an Autumn chill shuddering in at us. We shout into the phone, ask the banker to shout, so we can hear what happens next.
Am I wrong? Does that not seem like a strange series of events, a march of unfortunate instances? There have been good parts. I honestly haven't minded the long rides on trains, reading. I don't even mind the drive, when I get to listen to music and I pass the temple and the sky seems very very big and blue and delighted to have me under it. (I just don't like that the day is four hours shorter ...) I liked the day that Sam brought me home Toasted Saigon Cinnamon, which I am now officially obsessed with. I like when my cats come sleep on the bed, their earnest faces pleading for a little comfort, a little assurance we belong in this space, which I gladly provide. As much as I miss my things, there's been something sort of cool about living with the bare minimum, living for three weeks on what we planned would only need to take us through one week. I like the hotel's big fancy gas grill, which we've fired up and blanketed with veggies on more than one occasion. I liked the dinner we had on the patio, eating our grilled veggies and steaks, a perfect summer evening, a quiet pocket in this little suburb. I've liked Sam, liked having him with me, liked realizing that all I really need is him and I feel safe. And tomorrow, tomorrow, I hope tomorrow we'll get in the new house, the one I knew was ours when we walked in six months ago, the one we've been talking about since then, planning every corner, arguing over who gets which office, mapping where to put which bookshelf, imagining our new life. Oh please, oh please, let it be tomorrow.