Some of you may recall from a previous post that recently I went to look at an apartment for one of my best friends J moving back from London with her husband and baby. The apartment is in the neighborhood and only a ten minute walk from my place. They ended up getting it and will be living there as of Monday. Still seems too good to be true.
On Friday I offered my services to take a personal day from work and receive her shipment of stuff coming from storage. Her place is gigantic - five rooms, great light with a backyard and a basement with washer/dryer. It wasn't the shipment coming from England but rather stuff she had put into storage before going to England there over a year and a half ago. It would be easy. The boxes would be clearly marked with what room they should go in. I was to just to oversee that the movers put them in the right rooms for the most part. The moving service they hired would actually open the clearly marked boxes and put things away in the proper rooms. No worries! Have a coffee and relax. Read the paper. Everything will be simple and great. Heck, I'll even wear a long clean white sweater since I won't be getting dirty.
Three moving guys arrived and the main guy immediately gave me a clipboard of several pages - an Excel sheet of 99 boxed items over half of labeled MISCELLANEOUS or something vague like TABLE. What kind of table??? Dining room? Living room? Bedside? I frowned and scanned the document on the clipboard with a look of concern. The main moving guy looked at my long white sweater and me holding the clipboard and said - dead serious...
M: You look like a docta.
K: Huh. (scanning through all the pages)
M: Are u a docta?
K: No I am not a doctor.
M: Are you sure? Cause you really look like one.
K: Sigh. I didn't realize how many boxes there were...
M: You a nurse?
K: No I am not a nurse.
M: ...you sure?
K: (now looking up) YES I am sure
M: Ok sorry. You just reeally look like you work in the medical proffesion.
He shrugged and walked off.
Moments later the real stress began. One by one each moving guy would come in the room and yell out a number BINGO style "SEVENTY FIVE!!!"...."NINETEEN!"....TWO!!!!" and I had to quickly scan the clipboard, check off that the proper item had arrived and perhaps the most stressful part of all - make an immediate decision which of the five rooms the 99 boxes of MISCELLANEOUS crap would go in. In close to every situation the box was labeled wrong. Out of the corner of my eye I would see one guy uwrapping a set of champagne glasses in the bedroom, the other setting up a blender in the living room and the other coming in the door yelling with the gusto of a hotdog seller at a ballpark, "NUMBA FIFTEEN...I GOTTA NUMBA FIFTEEN!"
As things quickly started to spin out of control, perhaps it was the doctor instinct in me that decided I needed to find a remedy for this nightmare situation and I mean FAST.
I told the main moving guy that moving forward they could call out a number but I needed them to open each box, unwrap one item and then I would determine what was in it and what room it should go in. As a result to save time once the box was in the right room I would rapidly unwrap the 30 items per box and quickly start to put things away, gather the newspaper and throw the one moving guy an empty box as the other yelled out the next number.
By the end my back was KILLING me. I was FILTHY. I was EXHAUSTED. I guzzled the Snapple Ice Tea I brought with me, a large water and a coffee as I went along and at one point quickly went to use the bathroom and opened the door to see THERE WAS NO TOILET. Or SINK. Or BATHTUB. Apparently they were to be installed the next day. Great...I went back to unpacking.
My friend J has done many things for me in my life. And despite the 50 gallons of liquids putting pressure on my bladder as I unpacked each and every posession she ever owned over the course of her lifetime, I was able to still be sentimental as I came across those reminders of our friendship in the form of photographs, college yearbooks, clothes once shared and even household items.
Over five years ago, I arrived unannounced at the doorstep of J's tiny apartment having just left my husband, my home, all my posessions, my cat and my marriage. I was devestated, lost and confused. Her now husband was there the night I arrived and hauled my suitcase full of random crap up five flights. They made me tea. I slept on the couch that night but moving forward the nights she was home and he wasn't there, we often slept side by side like sisters in her tiny, tiny bed. Months went by and not a question asked. No rent asked for until I began to rebuild my life, get a new job and thanks to the support and love of other close friends and family I got up and going again.
When the movers finally left, I did one last sweep of the place and rearranged a few items. I placed a tiny live Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the corner of the living room with a gift under it for the baby from E and I. I put on my jacket and turned off the lights. As I walked down the steps I realized that despite my bladder about to burst, my cell phone dead, my white sweater covered in filth, my body in utter pain, that perhaps I was finally able to give a little something back. A cozy place in Brooklyn all set up and waiting for them to come home to.