Friday night around 10:30 The Girlfriend and I get back into the car to drive to Long Island. We sit there for a minute, me in the driver’s seat her in the passenger seat, both staring silently straight ahead. I could tell we were thinking the same thing because I saw the sad, desperate droop of her face out of the corner of my eye: This was merely “the beginning.” (I’m thinking of using this as the first paragraph of a short story entitled “Melodrama, Inc.”)
“Operation Move Dan” (motto: “It’ll get done, eventually”) was going as planned, meaning it was failing in every respect due to the lack of any semblance of a plan. We are both tired, hungry and in pain. We stop at a pizza place on our way out of the city and I almost drive into a wall in an effort to fit the entire slice into my mouth at once. The Girlfriend remains unfazed by the near death experience, concentrating intently on how, exactly, to keep a constant flow of soda into her mouth while still chewing. Just over an hour later, we arrive safely at my parents house. I leave The Girlfriend in the basement with the couch on which she prefers to sleep and go upstairs to a futon. We say nothing to each other as we part.
The reason we drove out to Long Island in the middle of Operation Move Dan, at quite possibly the most inconvenient time, short of it being the day after I had facial reconstruction surgery, was because my mom thought it would be nice to have a family portrait taken. I guess, in a vacuum of time and space, a family portrait is a nice thing to have done. But in the middle of Operation Move Dan, the family portrait becomes “The Thing That Makes Me Think For A Second That Being An Orphan Might Have Its Conveniences.” So disconnected was this event from my reality, that I neglected to either shave, get a haircut or, even at the very least, choose clothes to wear that fit me, namely the pair of pants that I hadn’t worn since last summer. Somehow, the passing of a year had shrunk the pants to the point where, as The Girlfriend commented upon first seeing them, “I can see your junk.” The Girlfriend as well came unprepared having grabbed the only clothes she could find amidst the mayhem, which turned out to be a nice pair of pants and a black scoop neck shirt. We were affectionately dubbed “The sluts of the family.”
I can imagine, decades from now, showing my children the family portrait, with my massive facial hair and my tight pants and a gleam in my eye that closely resembles a cardboard moving box, and I will wistfully tell them, “This was a tough time in my life.” And they’ll ask about the war and the threat of terrorism and growing up in an age of socio-economic uncertainty and I’ll shake my head and correct them: “No, I was moving that weekend.”
An hour later, we are on our way back to the city to resume the move. I had friends meeting me at my old apartment ready to help me carry whatever large items remained, which included every large item I have ever owned. For the week leading up to the move I had been trying unsuccessfully to sell, among other things, my couch, my chair and my bed, unsuccessful even when lying about how nice they are. I assumed the best idea would be to simply leave them and work around them, and, of course, something would fortunate would happened, like my neighbor would see me carrying a box out my door and stop me in the hallway saying, “You don’t happened to have a queen-sized bed to sell, do you? And maybe a loveseat and a small recliner too?” I don’t think I need to tell you that that did not happen.
The largest item that needed to be moved into the new apartment was my washing machine, which is one of those compact, all-in-one jobbies they use in Europe. (FLASHBACK: One of my proudest moments was when my family and I went to London and the flat – that’s what they call an apartment – we rented had one of these washing machines and I showed everyone how to use it. PLEASE NOTE, this story is much more depressing than I meant it to sound.) This thing must weigh about 200 lbs, but 200lbs of compact smooth metal with no gripable part whatsoever.
We managed to load it onto a hand truck and, one step at a time, all four of us, to maneuver it down the stairs with one person holding it in front, two people barking instructions like, “Aaaand LIFT!” or “Turn, no up. No, back and then up and twist. No, turn and back then twist,” and my friend Scott, wielding a weight lifter’s belt purchased at a yard sale (?) expertly managing not to drop the hand truck down the stairs. Twenty minutes later we reach the bottom of the stairs and, with one swift reminder that now we had to get it up to the new apartment, I broke my friends spirits, drawing them down into my defeated state like an alcoholic walking into an AA meeting saying, “Come on everyone, first round is on me!”
Two hours later, as we are finally finishing up with everything (except all those items I couldn’t sell) we prepare for the final trip up the stairs. I attempt to pick up two heavy boxes, waving off my friends’ protestations saying, “I have rage in me!”
Two flights later, rage has broken down into a mixture of sweat and self-loathing. I literally cannot believe that I have let this move get so out of hand, to the point where my legs are refusing the commands sent by my brain. It all gets hazy here, but the next thing I know a hologram of a Native American is silently coaxing me on up the stairs, smiling in a way that says, “You white men know nothing of struggles.” As I reach the top floor, I drop the boxes, black out and wake up at a table outside Mo’s Caribbean Bar & Grill on Second Ave. with my friends, devouring a sampler platter like the Cookie Monster. Apparently we made it through, and we ate and drank and laughed and told tales of our feats. We ended the night early, eager to get home to bed, and as I walked towards my new apartment, the only reminder of the tragic events of the day was a phone call from The Girlfriend to say, through what may or may not have been whimpers, “THERE’S SO MUCH CRAP IN HERE. BUY MY TWO ENCHILADAS. PLEASE.” And I did buy her two enchiladas. And thanks to good Mexican food (and Darvocet) we slept like we were home.
AND THAT CONCLUDED EPISODE TWO! Stay tuned for Episode Three, wherein I throw everything else I own away, buy a new bathing suit and get a lesson in “mouth amputation” by a psychotic woman in a deli parking lot!