Saturday, September 25, 2010

On the Morning of Our Actual Move, For Real This Time

Well, we didn't move last week.  At the last minute on Friday, I called our realtor and he said it was looking less "100%."  And so we decided to stay for another week.  Our cats hadn't finished destroying the furniture anyway.

And now, we're finally, really moving in.  We have the keys.  Some of our stuff is even inside.  And I have to say, I've been worried that when we got inside I wouldn't still love it, but oh I do.  I walked from room to room, turning on lights, reminding myself, and it was seriously one of the most beautiful experiences to know we were buying it, that it was ours.  It felt, well, like home.  And thennnnn we bickered.  We are moving, after all.  Deciding where to put the cat litter will take a good two months of intense negociation.

But the reason why I gathered you all here wasn't really to tell you that.  I wanted to record my three part method of emotionally/mentally processing this moving mess.

Stage 1: Acceptance, sort of. 

I've been working hard on dealing with whatever comes up on its own terms, praying and asking God to help me.  So when we got the news about the hotel, when it became clear this was our only option, I tried hard to keep a stiff upper lip.  When people offered sympathy, I'd say, "Oh, well, you know, it's really a first world problem.  Poor us, we're buying a house and we have to wait, you know?"  I told myself we were okay in this place, that everything was fine, that I was grateful to have a place to go.  And all of that was true, in a way.  But I was also simply shoving away negative thoughts, pushing them down into some place inside, not acknowledging that first world problem or no, this was really not ideal, and I was sad and stressed and sorry.  This became crystal clear about a week after we moved in, when, as I mentioned in the last post, I went to pet Sam's cat, and he hissed at me, at which point I burst into heaving horrible sobs.  Commence stage two.

Stage 2: Bright Coins 

I think stage two is my default.  You saw evidence of it in the last post, although by that point I was less attached to the story.  But still, this one is rooted in story, in tragic story: I collect all of the bad things that happen, the stressy stuff, the absurd stuff, and whether or not they were a big deal or not, I keep them as a running tally in my brain; I hold onto them like bright coins; I save them for something special, as proof the world owes me a big treat.  I'll admit here that the treat used to be a cupcake.  I'd save up my sadness, in a way, and think that meant I really really deserved a cupcake to make myself feel better.  But see, I finally decided that cupcakes made me feel terrible, as does every other sweet treat, and they aren't worth it.  So now, in a cupcakeless (and much better, for me, I might add (I'm not saying everyone should give up their cupcakes, honest.)) world, I couldn't figure out what to "spend" my bright pity coins on.  I just kept adding to them, adding and adding.  Until we found out that we couldn't move last week.

Part 3: Hope, Without

When I talked to our realtor, when things became suddenly less 100%, I burst into tears, of course.  I lay down on the bed, crying, closing my eyes, and praying, "Okay, not cool.  So not cool.  I mean, I'll get up and be happy, but first you have to know that I'm not okay with this.  This is not okay."  And I felt like that honesty garnered an immediate answer: "I know you're disappointed.  It'll be fine.  Thanks for telling me.  Get up and get over it now."  So I did.  And I threw everything in my car and went to the Exponent retreat (an Mormon women's retreat) and had a really wonderful time.  And everything was fine.  I don't know how to explain this stage, because it's the only one I didn't try to manufacture myself, the one that came by grace.  When I woke up Monday morning, I was detached from the outcome.  It's not that I didn't still hope that we'd move in this weekend, I just didn't need that to happen.  It was hope without expectation, a brand of hope that didn't demand fulfillment.  Does that make sense?  Sam called me at work in the early part of the week, giving me updates, and I listened to them with that detachment, like they were about someone I really really loved and wanted the best for, but that they weren't about me.  By late in the week, when it looked like we really would move in, I lost that happy detachment, and when Sam talked to the realtor on Thursday I was standing by him saying, "Is he for SURE?  Is it REALLY going to happen?"  Charming, yes.  But at least I had the experience of feeling that other sort of hope, which felt like true acceptance, the real bright coin.

And now it's time to put some furry creatures in my car and take them to their new home.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Girl Who Cried House

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.