We all knew this move was going to be hard. I was prepared for hard. But, once again, I was expecting hard in all the wrong ways.
Friday seemed like it was going to be the worst for me. I was scrambling to pack as much as I could while my toddler was at preschool and my ear-infected baby was in the care of my new caregiver. But it was the day I knew would come: the day Todd would begin throwing random crap in boxes indiscriminately and muttering, "Well sort it out later. Just get it off the floors for the carpet cleaners." But I am too wise for this - I know there will be no "later".
It was also the day I had to sort through all of our attic stuff, including boxes that held the sum total of my elementary, junior high, high school, and college memorabilia. I came across post cards from my grandma, my Sally-Jesse Rafael-esque glasses from fourth grade, track medals, newspaper quotes, and paperwork from a Duke University program that had me take the SATs in 7th grade.
I packed all of my formal china, crystal stemware, and silver - stuff that I've actually used on numerous occasions, hosting Thanksgiving dinners and Valentine's Day tea parties. I even found an old newspaper clipping stuck between two saucers from my grandma's "Annette" china patter that proclaimed the $7.95 per place setting sale price when she originally bought the pieces - I'm guessing in the sixties.
Then I gave away more of my possessions than I ever imagined I would. I had hoped that more friends would be able to take stuff until our eventual return, but schedules didn't mesh and their cabinets were already full, so after cajoling them into taking as much as they could, we took truck-loads of things to Goodwill. Truck. Loads.
So I cried. Because even though it's just stuff, it was my stuff. Stuff I had plans for. Stuff I had memories of. Mine. And Ours.
I went home, licked my wounds, and decided that the worst was likely over.
(You're laughing now, aren't you. Because you know what happens when one is foolish enough to think the worst is over.)
Saturday and Sunday I had to stay home with the girls while Todd cleaned, did household maintenance, and all of the yard work. Sunday, he set aside all of our baby equipment, including an exersaucer, jumperoo, bumbo seat, high chair, bouncy chair, and an entire collection of Avent bottles, nipples, and pumping equipment - all to go to my friend and her two-month-old. Her husband was going to come by and pick it up. Todd set it in front of our garage, right up against the house under the awning, and left to come home.
I went up later that night after putting the girls down to get as much packing as I could done because Monday was the absolute last day before we handed over the keys to our tenants. I started to work, doors open, garage lit up, radio playing, making trips up and down the stairs to my open-doored car. J, my friends husband showed up at about ten. He asked where the stuff was and I told him it should be on the side of the house. He looked and couldn't find it. I looked and couldn't find it. I called Todd and he said, "It's right there. Right in front of the garage." J and I were standing in front of the garage. It was all gone.
I hindsight, I think I actually saw the truck with my highchair in it going down the street as I pulled in. But I had no idea that Todd had left the stuff in front of the house, not on the side out of sight. And I had absolutley no reason to suspect that someone would take it during daylight in full view of everyone, including golfers, walkers, and our neighbors.
But they had. I asked J to stay long enough to help me get a few more cabin-bound boxes in my car. I suddenly felt very vulnerable (as a smart person would have from the get go) with the doors unlocked and all by myself. Once I got in the car to leave I started sobbing.
Was it just stuff? Yes. Was I most likely through with it all? Yes. Did that matter? No. It was my babies' stuff. The bright-blue high chair that served as the backdrop for so many messy-infant pictures that are seared into my memory. The jumperoo that Hannah loved so much she looked like she was auditioning for an episode of Hee-haw meets Riverdance. The bumbo seat where I fed each of them their first solid foods. And if I was to be done with all those items, it should have been my call - not some jackass off the street who was bold enough to walk the 35 feet from the street up to our house and take multiple loads of not-his-stuff to his truck.
I was furious. It was too much. On top of the stress of moving, the emotional havoc of leaving a house that was filled with so many memories, of packing up the few that remained, of giving away so very many posessions, of leaving my sick baby with someone else, of hearing my stressed-out toddler sing half-loops of preschool songs in such an annoying and incessant way that I began to ponder googling "tourettic fits" - I just had to loose it for a while and be upset.
My best friend and my mom did a pretty good job of pulling me out of it. And they assured me, as anyone would, that things had to get better from here. One more day and we'd be done and able to move forward.
(You know the answer. Part 2 tomorrow.)