January 24, 2011

Moving Day

Filed under: JOURNAL — carolyncholland @ 1:30 am
Tags: , , , ,



I’m sitting in a corner of an empty room, on a piano stool I found amongst the stack of items on the patio. A wall serves as my back support. I’m waiting for the moving truck—oh, there it is: it had recovered from its problems driving to this house, problems caused by snow-covered, narrow roads.

     Joanne arrived before the truck, bringing her dog and cat to the house. The cat was scared shitless by the move. Joanne put both animals in main bathroom, removed the cat from the cage, and shut the door.

She searched for her car keys, which were finally located in her purse, set on the floor against a dark wall, camouflaged well. She spoke briefly to the movers and shot off a few instructions to me before she left so she could clean the house she was abandoning for this new-to-her house.

     I was left in charge of the movers. For a few minutes while they were working, the sun actually shone, casting shadows across the snow in Joanne’s yard. It was cold, but because the doors had to be kept wide open I turned the heat down as low as I dared.

     Don enjoyed conversing more than the moving tasks, although he did fulfill his share of the moving duties. He was a wild and woolly character who lives in the country during the winter, and the city of Hazelwood (part of the greater area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) during the summer. He said it is a bad area.

     “I like living in the city,” he said with a drawl. “When I was young I lived up north where it was uncivilized. Now it’s getting civilized. I don’t like civilization. But I like living where I can go to Starbucks for coffee. I like making them nervous by asking for goat’s milk, which they don’t have.”

     He has seven chickens, but had hundreds at one time in his life. He protects his land with “do not” signs—do not swim, hunt, smoke, etc.

     Jitterbug, his friend, was on a television program.

     “He is bearded and wild-eyed. He didn’t own the mineral rights on his land, and the Marcellus shale gas people came onto his property and poisoned his water. His cows are dying. They attribute it to the poisoned water.”

     Don is bearded and almost wide eyed.

     “On Earth Day in April, when I get my beard shaved off, I will dye my hair blonde, I’m graying up too much. It’ll be like a new me. I’ll wear a shark tooth and a coral necklace. Then you can call me Surfy.”

     I should name this place, he told me. I told him it was Joanne’s job. 

     “I officially named my place immediately,” he said. “Shanty Hollow. I registered that name at the courthouse.”

     He said he would be working until he’s eighty-five years old, “because I want so much. But there’s nothing wrong with sitting around, I plan on doing it when I’m 85.”

     By now, it was 11:57 a. m. The sun was still showing its face as evidenced by the shadows it still cast, but graying clouds seemed to be moving in. A black tiger cat scooted into the house and ran upstairs. Later it was seen running across the neighbor’s yard.

     “My taxes are pretty reasonable, but I still complain,” Don said. If they think we’re content they’ll raise them.”

     At 12:10 p. m. they finally moved a living room arm chair into the house. I found a blanket and gratefully sat in it. The morning was pretty cold, and the doors were wide open, releasing any heat the house held.

     “I wanted to buy a place because I didn’t get along with my neighbor,” Don told me. “But I decided not to move off my family farm because we began to get along together. When my family bought the farm in 1917 the neighbor said the neighborhood would go to pot, because a Hunky moved in. This neighbor’s ancestors had a land grant in 177?.”

     At 12:53 p. m., the other movers said were moving in some box springs for a twin bed.

     “We have two twin mattresses and that’s it,” I was told.

     Before the work crew left, Don told me his last name was Out, and one of the other movers last name was Far. Then he revealed his true name—a cultural one, in his drawl voice that left me wondering what part of his stories were just that, stories, and what part of his sharing was turly true.

     I shut the outside doors, turned the heat up, opened the bathroom door and let the pets out. The dog seemed appreciative. The cat began to hiss at me, again and again and again. I finally told the feline to cool it, grabbed my purse, and left for home.

     And so, as this moving day ended for me, it remained in the middle of the process for Joanne. She is left with the task of unpacking, cleaning up the muddied floors, and arranging her furniture.

     For me, it was the end of the move. I wasn’t moving. I was merely helping someone else that was moving. I could, after the short walk in the very cold air, huddle under an electric blanket and take a brief nap.



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