Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Arrival

Each day we drove I noticed the negative space between our belongings shrinking as our clothes, books and the material sum of our life as a family all compressed ever more compactly into the space of our trunk.  This was strangely comforting in light of the fact that the space that would soon be our home was actually not much bigger than the trunk of our car and surprisingly similar in its "coziness" or "charm" or insert another appropriate realtor's adjective here.  Our apartment  - unlike our car - did have plumbing though.

This progressive compression made me think of what we left behind.  The destination of some of our items was lovingly considered.  Some of our furniture went to  Meredith to be equally lovingly looked after in our absence.  Some found new permanent homes or returned from whence they were generously donated - like our baby stuff that went via Kristen to soon to be parents.  Some met a lonely, dark and damp fate relegated to a too small (still bigger than our car though!) storage unit in a bad part of town.

And what of the fate of the consumable items? Simply throwing them away - the easiest but most heinous of solutions - would not do.  On the day before our departure, I realized that just because the refrigerator and pantry have doors on them allowing me to ignore their contents doesn't mean the new resident would do the same.  Does it?  Nope.

So, I opened said doors.  Then I panicked.  How is it that denying myself the pleasure (yes, I mean that) of grocery shopping for weeks in preparation for our departure resulted in such an insignificant reduction of food-stuffs?  Well, this would all have to be donated - thoughtfully.  After all, donating amaranth flour and candied chestnuts to a food bank is inconsiderate and naive.  Even in my state of emergency I would not succumb to this middle-class insular behaviour even if the alternatives were inconvenient...very inconvenient.

I began to consider carefully the recipients of the food. All the baking ingredients and accoutrement would go to Melissa who, were she making her living from baking rather than from nursing, would be causing health issues instead of solving them (but would be extremely rich from her cheesecake sales!)

Obscure grains, bulk items and so-proclaimed (by myself) healthy foods go to my recently reduced brother.  Staples go to practical Erika.  And any exotic, hard to find items go to my foodiest of foodie friends - Dana (props to Norma, Meredith and Kristen though).  Despite her creativity with food as well as other media, I have no idea what she will do with rose petal preserve!

When we arrived, as we started to de-compress (our nerves and our stuff) I found myself caught in this contradictory meltdown.  First, "there is no storage space here - where will we put our special jumbo muffin tin?"...and then a minute later, " doh, I forgot my electric pepper grinder" or "aw, I wish I HAD brought those rice paper wrappers after all".  Now,  I longed for the rose petal preserves and all the stuff we left behind....anything to anchor me here, to make me feel like I was just here on vacation and that this year of drinking hormone injected milk and pee-pee coloured, weak beer would fly by in a flash like the choppers Gavin would soon be piloting.

We all felt disconnected - suddenly with no sense of place - vagabond like in our bottom of the barrel clothes we were left with while everything else waited in the laundry basket.  We felt tattered and homeless especially during those first few days during the unpacking phase.  Gavin and I might glance at each other tacitly agreeing not to dwell out loud on this feeling.  'It will pass' we thought.

Only Luca acknowledged the elephant in the Florida room.   I don't know if he was referring to the little rolling Travel-pro luggage we used every time we checked into hotels - or as he was calling each inn - Luca's hotel house.  Maybe he was talking about the little case with a handle that he got for his toy cars for Christmas from his cousins, Noah and Tyler.  But when we asked him as we walked about the condo complex of our new home on our first day there, "where is Luca's house?" he pointed to our building and said in his adorable, squeaky voice with its upturned inflection at the end making everything sound like a question, " suitcase(?)".

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