Saturday, August 16, 2003

Just like the musical "Rent," but without all the singing and AIDS references

Like it? 
Nothing could be simpler and more envigorating than assembling all of the material possessions inside your domicile, packing those objects into boxes, suitcases, garbage bags and stray pillow cases, carrying as many of those objects as you can lift to your new domicile, returning to your previous domicile, carrying more objects to your new domicile, repeating the process until all the objects are in your new domicile, and unpacking all of them there.

My wife, my dog and I recently undertook this charming endeavor. Our old apartment was just way too dusty. Also, we had recently emerged from that rainy spring, so everything smelled like wet dog.

There were other reasons to move. The old place had broken windows that refused to stay open, so if we wanted any fresh air we had to fill a duffel bag with it from outside, rush it up three flights of stairs and empty it into the apartment.

Worst of all, a streetlight shone directly inside our bedroom and onto my face every night for nearly five years. In my sleep I would constantly crawl away from it, to my wife’s side of the bed, pushing her nearer and nearer her edge until we were forced to buy a bigger mattress. That was a temporary and woefully inadequate solution.

We had been looking at houses for a while. We wanted a spacious house with hardwood floors and a porch near a park in a good neighborhood. For months, we made colossal idiots of ourselves in front of several real estate agents. We saw houses without porches, some without parks, without space, without floors at all. We saw houses with none of the above that were still priced well over our budget.

By contrast, we found our new apartment and closed the deal all in less than 24 hours. It’s spacious, in a great neighborhood near a park, has hardwood floors and a porch. The only thing it doesn’t have is a mortgage.

Within minutes, I started packing. The weather was warming up by then, so our old place started to smell like wet, humid dog. Ice cream trucks parked directly outside my door and played their bloody jingles nonstop from 3 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. And I swear the city changed the bulbs in the streetlights to a higher wattage.

When you pack, you often gain a new perspective on yourself. For instance, I learned that most of my hobbies and interests weigh a great deal.

I have a collection of about 450 records — for kids, those heavy, black, circular, vinyl discs that music used to be stored on. Each one weighs a little less than a pound, but somehow combined they weigh several thousand pounds. Music-loving scientists replaced records with cassettes, which are much lighter; cassettes were replaced by CDs, which are lighter still; and CDs are being replaced by MP3 computer files, which technically don’t weigh jack shit.

We also own several hundred books. I’ve never counted how many we have — it may be millions. And I don’t mean only namby-pamby paperbacks. I’m talking hardcovers, man. I’m talking dictionaries. I’m talking a 20-volume literary anthology and a set of World Book encyclopedias.

My wife is a painter, so she discovered that most of her possessions are glass jars containing deadly, corrosive chemicals.

We both discovered that I own more clothes than my wife owns. This makes no sense. I dress like a pig.

With the help of my parents and a cousin, we moved all our records, books, clothes and poisonous fluids into the new place. Did I mention my new apartment has hardwood floors that don’t capture wet-dog smell the way carpet does? It was so shiny and clean that I felt embarrassed to dump our junk in there. We still use plastic milk crates as shelves, for God’s sake.

After settling in and testing everything in the house (“Honey, look! The water in the sink actually runs down the drain!”), we set about making our new apartment more homey. We bought a dining room table that we couldn’t have afforded if we were paying a mortgage. We got a spice rack — if we were paying a mortgage, we would be eating peanut butter and jelly for all three meals, so we wouldn’t have needed spices. We bought — I’m quoting the package here — an “Elite Series luxury toilet seat,” which makes my john the most comfortable chair I have. With the way water rates are increasing, if we’d bought a house, we would have had to dig a latrine in the yard.

I’m sure owning a house is nice, building equity (read: “imaginary money”) and all that. I bet mowing a lawn and cleaning your gutters in this weather is a treat. Paying property taxes is a million laughs. And watching your 30-year investment sink once this real estate market tanks — I’m sure that’s nice.

Drop me a line and tell me all about it. I’ll be napping on the porch.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails