I'm back in New York after a whirlwind of activity in northern Virginia. Last November, mom sold the house she had been living in for the past eighteen years- the yard maintenance was just getting to be too much for her. After 'couch surfing' for a few months with my sister and two younger brothers, she finally closed on a cute townhouse not too far from her old stomping grounds on February 10th. The movers moved her stuff from a storage unit to her townhouse on the 15th, and I made plans to help mom unpack the larger boxes.
Yesterday, we must have moved a ton of stuff, mainly books. We are a family of bibliophiles, we have been for generations. The good thing about being a bookworm is that it forces you to be a weightlifter if you have to move. Pumping paper, bay-bee. I'd hump a few boxes of books, then take a breather by putting them on the various bookshelves in the study/family room. Establishing a rhythm is the key: UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH, hey I wondered where I'd last seen that hardcover edition of Don Quixote, UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH.
Gradually, books, board games, pictures, kitchen utensils and lamps found their way to the places they would occupy, and mom's cute new dwelling place emerged out from under a sea of cardboard. Mysteries remained- there were lampshades which needed to be reuinted with lamps, and mom's meager shoe collection, aside from a pair of sneakers and a pair of moccasin slippers, remained to be found. The bulky/heavy 95% of stuff was moved in, but one of the laws of the universe is that the last 5% of stuff to be moved is the pain in the ass part.
Today was occupied with putting the empty cardboard boxes in the driveway, as close to the curb as possible, so mom could move them to the designated trash pickup spot next to the gutter. She called the sanitation department to let her know that there would be a huge cardboard pickup. My plan was to leave in the early afternoon so I could drive straight to work, and I know that a lot of municipalities frown on residents putting stuff at the curb before 5PM. One of mom's neighbors was outside doing some yardwork, and we sheepishly told her that this mountain of cardboard was a one-time, ephemeral structure. She laughed, her husband is serving in the Army, so she was no stranger to the travails of moving.
After a hot shower and a couple of aspirins, I hit the road... my arms were pretty heavy, but the foot was light enough to avoid any brushes with the law. I made decent time, even having enough time to hit the grocery store before starting my shift. I called mom before stepping into the store. She had found her box of shoes behind a box of holiday decorations. I had held up my part of the bargain, I was a brute going grunt work. In the coming weeks, my sister and her husband will stop by to hang up paintings, photos, and diplomas. They have a better eye for that sort of thing than I do, and the stud detector had yet to be unpacked.
Despite the fact that it was a couple of days of dusty, sweaty work, I had fun. Mom is good company, and throughout the lugging and unpacking, we had a great running conversation. The aphorism is that many hands make light work, but the wagging of the tongues is a more crucial factor than the work that the hands do.