Finally we’re moving into the new house. After all the stuff we sold at garage sales, gave away or just threw out, life in the new house should be stress-free: no tchotchkes to dust, fewer square feet to vacuum, no big lawn to take care of, no hedges to trim and no guest bedrooms to worry about. Just enough space for the two of us to be comfortable.
Welcome to easy living.
“Honey, where’s the coffeemaker?”
“It’s in a box.”
“Yes, but which box? There’s a hundred of them.”
“I don’t know, we’ll find it as we unpack.”
“I can’t unpack without coffee. What did the box say on the outside?”
“Seriously? I got boxes from the grocery store. It could say ‘cat food’ or ‘star fruit.’ How do I know? It’s a box.”
That was the wrong answer, it turns out. The correct answer was, “Oh, let’s leave this mess and go out and get some coffee.” But that’s OK; things will work out as we go along.
“What did you do with the bedroom curtains?”
“Didn’t we give them to the Salvation Army?”
“No, those were the guest bedroom curtains. Our curtains were blue; those were green.”
“That’s right. Now I remember. I wrapped the coffeemaker up in the curtains so it wouldn’t break. But now that you mention it, why don’t we go out and get a cup of coffee? I think I could use one.”
“You wrapped a dirty old coffeemaker in my good curtains? Even the Salvation Army won’t want them now!”
Stress-free living is so simple. All you have to do is – “What’s that? I’m not bumping into you on purpose. This kitchen is just smaller than our old one. Besides, you’re bumping into ME! I’m trying to get things done here and all you’re worrying about is a cup of coffee.”
“Oh, everything’s my fault!”
“I don’t think I said that.”
“You were the one who said we should downsize. You were the one who said it would make life easier. You were the one who said we’d have more time to be with each other if we lived in a smaller house.”
It occurs to me that this conversation isn’t really about coffeemakers and curtains. Moving is stressful. Everything is out of order; we have to find new places for old things; we have to find new ways of not bumping into each other in the kitchen; we have to learn how to spend more time together. Mowing a big lawn always was a nice way to get out of the house for a few hours. And Sue could spend a day in her greenhouse.
Now, with a new house, we have to learn how to dance to its rhythm. Right now, we’re still stepping on each other’s toes, but that shouldn’t last too long.
“Tell you what,” I say to Sue. “I’ll go work on the bathroom, while you unpack the kitchen.”
The bathroom, thank goodness, has “His” and “Hers” sections. In the fourth box, I find the coffeemaker, safely wrapped in the green curtains I was supposed to give to the Salvation Army. It was like getting a Christmas present by accident. No reason Sue shouldn’t get a present, too. I taped it shut again and put it back in the pile to be unpacked.
“Surprise!” she said about an hour later. “I just found the coffeemaker. It was in a box that said ‘canned mushrooms.’ ” She had a cup of coffee in her hand.
“Well, that’s great! Problem solved.”
“Yes and no. It was wrapped in the curtains you were supposed to give to the Salvation Army. Where are my good curtains?”
“I think I’ll start working on the garage. It needs a lot of attention.”
• Contact Jim Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.