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Whacha Gonna Do With All That Junk?

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

I am looking for matches. I have decided it would be the best thing for everyone involved if I burned down our house. You look shocked. Donít be. I do not have any criminal intent, no desire for destruction, no attraction to arson. I have simply reached my breaking point. I am looking for matches, in addition to my shoes, my car keys and my work badge, because I do not know where anything is right now.

I know in general that things are in boxes. These boxes, however, could be anywhere. They could be in the old house. They could be in the new house. They could be sitting on the porch accidently mixed up with the things waiting to be picked up for donation. They could be in the trunk of my car or in the moving van or even mixed up in the mountain of stuff sitting on the curb waiting for Big Junk Day.

And why is this so, you ask? Didnít you know you were going to have to pack up 14 years worth of detritus, sort it, label it, transport it? Didnít it occur to you as you had to live in your house for six weeks trying to avoid leaving any clue that it was inhabited by beings who showered and so used towels, ate and so dirtied dishes, so that the house would be in a constant state of magazine photo orderliness at all times for prospective buyers? Did it not sink into my brain, you ask, that if you put your house up for sale it might be sold and then you would have to move?

The answer is "no." I understood in theory that we would be moving. Just like I understand in theory that some day I will get old and die. I understood that the dozens of strangers who trooped through our house, eating the cookies we put out for them, leaving the closet doors open, the lights on and the disconcerting outlines of their bottoms on my bed where they sat down (and who said they could sit on my bed and why did so many of them do it? Were they so exhausted by trooping through the 2,000 square feet we call home that they had to rest up before going back downstairs?), were there to decide if they wanted to live in our house. But I kind of pushed that idea to a dusty corner of my brain and instead focused on keeping everything neat and smelling sweet.

But it did happen. Someone decided this was just the place for them and now we have to let them be here. Not only that, but we only had two weeks from the time they offered and we accepted until the closing date. I am very good at procrastination. NO! It is more than that! I am very good at creating my own reality. In my reality two weeks was all the time in the world.

But today is the day before we move everything. Today is the day I should be walking through rooms that echo. Instead almost everything is still where it has always been. I couldnít pack up the kitchen because we still need to eat. I couldnít finish packing the books because I lost the packing tape. Probably in a box. I couldnít pack the . . . well, I think you get the idea. I have not been delaying the inevitable so much as I have just been creating a disaster for myself.

There is a work correlation which can be drawn. After a couple of years of nursing I learned that it worked out better for me and my patients to get all our "chores" such as bathing and dressing changes and ambulating done as early in the shift as possible because the closer it gets to the end of the shift the more likely the possibility that all your careful organization and time management will crumble to dust and everyone will suddenly have orders for STAT labs, their IVs will infiltrate, they will have to go to CT and the computers will go down. Why oh why did it not occur to me to carry this over into my home life as well? Until today when it is too late and I am faced with the monumental task of packing almost everything in one day? I donít know the answer to that. But I know two things Ė if we ever move again I will do it differently, and it is a lucky thing that I donít know where I packed the matches.

© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" 2-14-2008 Column

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This page last modified: February 14, 2008