Chaos before the Calm

The feeling of something forgotten, something important forgotten, only suddenly remembered when it’s about too late? Yes, that slender, icy arrow to the heart as one’s head pops up out of whatever had distracted one, say, the bed covered with the contents of one’s closet: two giant plastic tubs full of winter clothing; camera equipment; hat boxes full of yes, actual hats; extra linens; and, in an enormous pile on the floor of the closet SO. MANY. SHOES.

Yes, so that was me yesterday, sweaty, dusty, panicked as I recalled the appointment that should have been happening at that very moment, with the assessor from the moving company. And oh God, the dread of having anyone see my apartment in it’s current state, the state of being about a quarter of the way through packing for a move, where things are off shelves and out of drawers and cabinets and crap is everywhere.

Contacting the moving company by email, I am within minutes rewarded by a phone call from the assessor; so far, I’m liking the moving company. She’s had computer problems this week and is running behind and I’m thanking a merciful God even as she’s apologizing to me. Oh, it’s no problem, I graciously tell her. I’m just here packing, so you’ll have to forgive the state of the place…

She’ll be an hour and in that time there is nothing I can do about the apartment currently full of half-packed boxes, so I opt for a shower. Terrified she’ll take one look around and refer us to U-Haul, I reason being personally clean and presentable is my only option for passing this particular test. And why do I feel like these things are tests? Like she’ll be judging me? My repressed Catholic upbringing and because I would be so judgy if I were an assessor for a moving company, that’s why. I’ve watched Hoarders, which makes me feel a whole lot better about my own housekeeping, so I assure myself that anyone who makes a living as an assessor for a moving company has seen some things on the job. My bits of mess are surely small potatoes to this seasoned professional, right? RIGHT?

Ivan on the job (2)
Do not be deceived: this is the face of Evil

Showered, mascaraed, and dressed, I manage to create a path through the apartment by the time she arrives. She’s a perfectly nice woman, totally non-judgy, and even Ivan the (recently) Terrible leaves his happy place on the recliner to coil around her ankles when we’re in the kitchen. In any other cat this would be a friendly greeting to a guest and I let her think this. Within minutes we’ve conversationally established both of us are idiots when it comes to animals, she rescuing baby birds kicked out of their nests, I in my attempts to rehabilitate the aforementioned horrible cat. I realize Ivan is only luring her, like Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire, using his adorable, round, fuzzy cuteness in hopes of lunch meat from the fridge, even allowing her to rub the top of his head. It doesn’t fool me for a second but I assure him later it was a masterful performance.

The assessor is quite pleasant and a little bit kooky and thus I like her immensely. She has been without her laptop after a tumble downstairs with it a week ago; the IT department had to rebuild it and updated her software while they did, so she’s making happy little sounds with every click and blowing it kisses every time she submits a page. Despite a week’s worth of input ahead of her, right now she is in love with her computer. She is completely un-phased by the chaos of the apartment and her calm and cheerfulness sort of waft over onto me as I follow her about. Handing me her card on the way out, she again apologizes for being late (about which I feel guilty, of course) and she’s off.

I think to myself, It’s going to be okay. It’s just the chaos before the calm.

A few hours before, sitting on the floor of my closet in a pile of shoes I thought to myself, holy shit I can’t do this all…. It was another in a series of little moments I’ve been having, sudden this-is-getting-real moments, when the enormity of what we’re doing hits me and for a second, I can’t breathe. This time I picked up an old pair of black sandals, terrible sandals with worn heels and stretched, scuffed leather, the only reason for their continued existence their comfort no matter how swollen my feet, like movie-theater-popcorn-swollen, and I threw them in the trash. Time to lighten the load. Time to consider less what I leave behind, consider more what comes with me to someplace new.  The only way to create calm is by diving into the preceding chaos, as currently represented by an enormous pile of shoes.

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