Monday, April 14, 2008

Cardboard Kingdom

I feel I should share some vignettes from the past week. If my language is more formal, it's simply because I feel like a cartoon character with a balloon over its head that says "#$*&$!", and I'm overcompensating.

Last weekend - or what seems like decades ago - we finished loading up the contents of our old apartment into a U-Haul truck in the rain. We'd "moved" into a cottage on a horse farm that was full of pricey antique furniture, so most our stuff actually wasn't "moved" in. But since the cottage wasn't working out, on Wednesday we loaded plates, mugs, pots, pans and suitcases in the truck, too. We loaded toiletries and overnight supplies. We loaded dogs. Then husband and brother set off in the truck, and I prepared to follow them to the new duplex abode.

But wait!

Jezebel was in the shop! My keys were in Jezebel! John had the Taurus keys! I was supposed to drive the Taurus! And he had driven off into the blazing sunset ahghghghghghgh.

Jezebel is my '89 Buick Century. The mechanic knows her by name. She is a bit of a tart.

By the way, by this point, my mental health was waning.

I had to call husband and brother, and demand they return instantly and provide me with keys to the car and temporary sanity. But John's cell had accidentally gone through the wash, and I don't have my brother's number memorized. And I couldn't get hold of mom, and I didn't have anyone else's number memorized. And terror began trickling along the horizon.

Just about the time I started to yearn for the comfort and stylings of a straight jacket, I decided to Hail Mary a phone number in Ethan's direction.

It worked. By golly, it worked. They whipped the 14-foot U-Haul around like a bucking stallion and brought me the car keys, and with them, fifteen more minutes of dementia-free retirement.

I followed. We unloaded the trusty U-Haul in the dark, unpacked a few boxes, and fell asleep on the couch. The next two days will always be a blur in my mind, probably akin to future childbirth - vague impressions of grief, moaning, and intermittant agony. There's a lot of driving - errands run, backyard fence options compared, boxes unloaded, random belongings found that I'd forgotten existed, and 7,000 loads of laundry to be done. On Thursday, we loaded the portable dishwasher, desk, and computer into the back of the truck and took them "home." Funny how the dogs adjusted so quickly. I think they knew things were settling down. They've been better the past week than they have since we got them. Or maybe they just sensed the impending mental breakdown. Either way, on Friday, we drove back to the cottage to clean, clear up last belongings, and load dozens of trash bags into the emptied U-Haul.

We hadn't had trash pick-up in the country. We had to find a dump. By the end of the day, my hair smelled like garbage. But I was so tired, I didn't care. Loading month old trash bags in wind and rain through mud may not be everyone's idea of a picnic, I realize. To us, it was the misery that was begetting closure. I in the care, husband in the truck, we drove over to town to find the dump and drop off the truck that had now become like large, metal, orange and white family.

The dump was closed.
OF COURSE it was closed. Why load rubbish for half an hour in the rain and then have the dump open? John and I exchanged glances: what do we do now? We have to rid ourselves of a) garbage and b) the truck. But not at the same time, or in the same place.

"Should we sneak it into some dumpsters?" I suggested warily.
He looked hesitant, then bold. "You lead," with a Pilate-washing-his-hands-if-we-get-caught expression. I led. Or, as he later put it, I drove like I was trying to evade an FBI tail.

The problem is that many businesses are near main roads, and we didn't want to dump our garbage too explicitly - after all, traffic was getting heavy.

The first place we went, we lugged bags from the truck to a dumpster until a car drove past nearby. "Quick - finish this load and move! DUMP AND RUN!" That was my frantic squeak.

We sped off, and I lurched along the road like a half-blind driver, slowing to scan for dumpsters, speeding up when it wasn't a good setting. At one point we drove through a gas station, but the employee happened out by the dumpster just as I was eyeing it greedily. We kept on, then got stuck behind a stalled vehicle. The cop car made me feel like I had several hundred pounds of crack in the moving truck instead of rinds, paper towls, and tuna cans. Traffic was waved around the stalled vehicle and a sigh of relief escaped me.

I was headed to the other end of town: the strip mall.
AKA Paradise.
Behind Kroger and it's neighbors were almost a dozen deserted dumpsters, with no one in sight. I scanned the rooftop for security cameras, didn't see any, and excitedly ran to the back of the truck.
"THAT'S THE LAST TIME I TELL YOU TO LEAD." John had apparently not been amused by my slowly putt-putting past businesses, my weaves into, and out of, turn lanes, and my occasional gas station detours.
"I FOUND SOME, DIDN'T I? By the way, I don't see any cameras, but all the same, let's hustle."
"Yeah, I didn't see any either."

We dropped off the truck - garbage free - and drove home, smelling of dirt, old lettuce, and relief.

And that doesn't even cover the new neighbor.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Well, at least you didn't mention smelling like poop, so I'm assuming you didn't do any last-minute stumbling into cow pies. Always remember to count the small blessings :). Love you, Mom

Anonymous said...

i wanna know about the new neighbor! PUH-LEASE! You left me wanting more...;-)

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, hopefully there were no papers or letters or envelopes with names and addresses on them in the trash......