The Move (part II)

Apparently, it’s not all that easy to pack up a 3-bedroom apartment.  As it turns out, I have a lot of shit.  Trust me, I’ve fantasized about half-smoking a cigarette (for old times’ sake) and then flicking it nonchalantly into a gasoline-soaked basement to watch it all burn to the ground.  Warm my hands, roast a marshmallow and call the insurance company in the morning.

Except I don’t have insurance, fresh out of s’mores and there’s actually a few things I’d like to keep.

There is nothing quite like a purge to serve as a gentle reminder of what you can let in when you let go.  It’s physics, really.  Equal and opposite action.  Reaction.  Or something like that.  There have been some amazing moments and beautiful people that have entered my life as a result of this move.  There have been some crazies too…certifiably wacko.  Action, reaction.  It all balances out.  And once you start letting go, once you wrap your head fully around the purge, it actually becomes addictive.  EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!

It made sense that if I’m going to get rid of all of my stuff that I, at least, make an effort to make a little of the cold, hard cash-ola to aid me on my travels.  So I ransacked every room, every closet, drawer and the basement and brought it all up to the main floor.

A few dollar-store neon signs strategically placed around the neighbourhood, plus an ad on Craigslist and much to the dismay of my border collie, weekend strangers were flowing through my apartment in a steady stream.

The really amusing part was welcoming people into my apartment saying, “Welcome.  Don’t mind the dog, she just barks.  Everything is for sale.”

Cue empty stare.

“What do you mean, ‘everything is for sale’?  Are you leaving the country or sumpthin’?”

There were the customers that walked into my place briskly, with a cursory glance around to take note of anything of significant value.  There were the customers that came in with a shopping list of home items they were missing.  “Do you have a Panini-press?”  And then there were those that cared more about the story, about the opportunity to browse through my life than actually buying my crap.  You knew right away which ones wanted the abridged version and which ones you could open up to.

“Actually, I am moving to Prince Edward Island to teach yoga for two months and after that I have no job, no home and no idea where I’m going.  I’m giving up 9 years of life for a nomadic and unstable future.”

They’d blink a couple of times and say, “Cool.  How much is this?”

And you knew they got it.  That we gotta do these things from time to time and he’ll buy that complete set of cake-decorating tips for $5 because it’s only going to help you on your way.

A woman and her husband walked in and right away I could tell; she was a browser.  Browsing slowly gave her time to ask questions.  She did not want the abridged version.  I mentioned PEI, she mentioned a recent move to Montreal from St. Johns, Newfoundland.  She mentioned a love for hat-making.  I found 25 spools of colourful ribbon in my basement.  She mentioned her daughter made jewellery out of porcupine quills.  I ducked back down into the basement and came up with a giant bag of leather scraps.

“How much?” she asked.  I enjoyed her company and conversation so much, I replied, “Free.  Just tell your daughter to send me some earrings in PEI.”  She mentioned she was a writer.  “Oh, I just started writing and I love to read,” I said.  “What do you write?”  “Oh, just some short stories, a novel.”  To which, her husband, who was removing some shelves from my wall, piped in, “Her book was nominated for the Giller Award.”

Only one of the top literary awards in Canada.

He came back a couple of hours later with the car to pick up their purchases.  In his hands was a tiny box.  Inside, a pair of beaded, porcupine-quill earrings nestled on some cotton.  Underneath the box, a signed copy of Kathleen Winter’s, Annabel.  A beautiful and thought-provoking story written by a very kind, curious and humble woman who now gazes at my hand-welded end table while she eats her dinner and makes hats.

Weekend by weekend my apartment became emptier and emptier, until it became time to call the Salvation Army to whisk the away the rest.  What wasn’t approved by their pick-up service was put on the sidewalk.  Without a car to take this stuff to a recycle depot, I placed an ad on Craigslist, saying I didn’t have a car but I didn’t want the stuff to go to a land-fill.  A man named Moe showed up on New Year’s Eve day with a smile and a handshake and then loaded boxes into his car and took them to a homeless shelter.  Just to be helpful.

Riding my bike around before the holidays, trying to frantically get errands done, friends visited, wine purchased, apartment packed; I got a flat tire.  I’ve had my bike for the entire nine years of my time in Montreal.  Before that, it was my dad’s bike.  An old, black Trek just rusty enough that no one wanted to steal it, but solid, fast and my main mode of transportation when there’s no snow on the ground.  We called her Black Beauty.  And as I started pushing B.B. home on the sidewalk, angry that I now had no time to finish my errands, the rubber tire fell off of the rim and started spinning around in the spokes.  It got worse and worse, flapping and flubbering, until finally it seized up and I could push no further.   I propped Black Beauty up against a parking meter, with tears in my eyes I looked her over and I said goodbye.  And then I walked away.  No lock.  No key.  Just free.

It is gone, just like everything else and what remains is all this room for newness.  It’s the first time in my life when I am not running away from something.  This time, I am running towards something.  For now, it remains vague and faceless, but the magnetic pull in my heart tells me I’m where I’m supposed to be.

So when I plugged my IPod into my computer after the hard-drive was replaced, it beeped at me and said, “Your IPod is synched with another ITunes Library.  Would you like to erase this IPod and sync with this computer?”

In the spirit of all things fresh and new.  Sure, why not.

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