Thursday, September 20, 2007

Story Jar - Would You Like a Couch?

Note: This issue of Story Jar has brought more comments than any other since the Story Jar resumed publication. People stopped by my booth at the Cuba Garlic Festival just to laugh and others called or stopped me on the street. It seems we all have moved boxes of books into and out of some interesting apartments.)

Would you like a couch?

When Em and Josh lived in Brookline (near Boston) they had to park on nasty streets, walk past creepy buildings and stress out over whether or not the car would be towed away. Living in Somerville seemed much friendlier so when they found an apartment they could afford they started packing. We all went to help move their mountain of books-n-stuff.
The 4th floor living room:

Rick drove the truck with our old couch and some other furniture and Jay drove my car with a set of 4 maple chairs and a table made with the legs from my “first” kitchen table nicely updated and repaired with a beautiful piece of curly maple on top. We drove through rain most of the time wondering about the integrity of the tarp wrapped around the couch and cursing the van that insisted its top speed was 45 mph.
We wanted to get the couch in the new apartment to free up the truck and to avoid another rain storm and we got there in time for rush hour, Boston’s version of vehicular warfare. While cars were gushing through every street, we had to make an emergency stop. The muffler fell off the van. We dragged it for a little while looking for a place to stop. Jay reached under the car and ripped the muffler free. Rick stopped with us so Jay popped the muffler in the truck with the couch rather than leave it on the road.
We fought through the traffic and found the new apartment but the previous tenants, two girls, hadn't moved anything out of it yet and – worse - it seemed they hadn’t cleaned it since moving in – if then.
There wasn’t a space large enough to leave the couch so we left it in the truck, met everyone for dinner and then Rick and I drove the truck to a motel hoping that we would still have the furniture in it in the morning. The sun rose on an undisturbed truck so fresh and rested with an oatmeal breakfast we started the serious work of moving.
We went to the old apartment and spent a few hours carrying stuff down from the fourth floor. We filled the front yard with Em’s and Josh’s possessions and occasionally sat on something to ponder the next trip up all those stairs for another box, generally of books.
At about noon, Rick and Em went to pick up the U-Haul while the rest of us ate lunch on the box-strewn lawn. After too little rest, Rick drove up with the big truck and we started filling it – every inch of it. We left the apartment white-glove-clean and locked it but kept the key just in case. Good thing.
We drove across Boston again and found that the new apartment was still full and still dirty. I asked the girls about their cleaning plan and they said they’d finished. Now listen, there was garbage overflowing and moldy food in the fridge and the stove was encased in gunk. The toilet was – polite words escape me - and I’ve never seen a worse tub.
Rick and I crossed paths several times during the day occasionally discussing when we could stop helping our children move. We swept a box of trash from the floor in one bedroom and did a quick mopping (our mop) before stacking all of Em's and Josh's stuff into the front bedroom and part of the kitchen while the girls moved their stuff out. One girl walked all the way down to the street with a single video tape in her hands. Together they repeatedly and slowly filled a two-wheeled shopping cart and walked the two blocks to their new apartment and then came back for more. Extraordinary behavior considering that they both had cars.
We managed to get everything out of the U-Haul and return it in the allotted time but we were too exhausted so we went back to the empty apartment and carted pillows and blankets back up to the fourth floor. All of us slept on the floor pretending that we were comfy and that nobody snored. In the morning we showered and used our shirts as towels and let our hair drip.
On this third day of moving, the girls were still getting stuff out. They were moving larger things and as they carried down and we carried up. Finally we took the couch out of the truck but it simply wouldn’t go up the narrow steps. It didn't fit. No way. No how. We had to wrap it back up to take it home –through a second thunder storm.
The kitchen after intense cleaning:

Em and Josh planned to use our old couch and toss out the older love seat but the love seat could be taken apart and carried up stairs so they were stuck with it. The double bed mattress was just a couple of inches too big for this narrow, twisty, turny stairway but it could bend a little. A hearty push on the box springs got it stuck in the hall and redesigned the contour of the wall before Rick, ever the engineer, peeled back the mattress cover, cut the corners with a hacksaw making it just slightly smaller and got the thing up the stairs.
He found thumbtacks on various walls and used them to tack the fabric back on the corners. Good as new.
Much of the time that others were trying to move the mattress, Jay worked to get the bathroom door to close (apparently it never had before) and the rest of us took turns scrubbing this and that. After the truck was emptied, 7 people spent 8 solid hours cleaning just to feel comfortable about standing in the rooms.
As I write this, it is Sunday night after a hellishly long day. Though it will take along while before this apartment “feels” clean, I know it will soon be cute and cozy. We’ve decided to stay the night because we’re tired and there’s still a huge list of chores including: get a new TV (long story in itself), find a couple of used bikes and get some joint compound to patch the holes in the stairwell.
Pushing that thought aside I was just about ready to use the clean tub in preparation for sleep on a mattress but someone is rasping away with the hacksaw again and I can’t decide whether or not to ignore it.

1 comment:

Emilie said...

whoa! blast from the past.

i still cannot believe how filthy that apartment was when we moved in. the memory of it continues to haunt me. *shudder*