Moving Saga Part 1

by Elisabeth




On May 21st I stared at the dishes that I didn’t feel like doing with a lump in my throat. Why were there so many glasses? The counter was filthy, and there was a bowl half-full of dressed salad practically turning into compost before my eyes. It was the last salad; Nick and I had eaten lunch together. He had made me a tuna sandwich and a side salad, and I remember it as the best meal ever. The sprouted grain toast, the perfect ratio of tuna, onions, and veggies with enough-but-not-too-much mayo and thinly sliced cucumbers. All of it so tasty it nearly brought me to tears.


Normally I would have been at work on a Wednesday, but they had just given me my new work laptop and encouraged me to try it from home. A divine gesture from the cosmos, protecting me from my searing emotions in the workplace. So I thankfully went home to finish my workday, and to say a final goodbye.


A normal lunch, like any other day. But then he was gone. The dirty dishes, by dinner time, looked like relics from better days. I had to wash the dishes in order to cook because I have a “thing” about that. I popped some of the old salad into my mouth and stood there aimlessly staring at the mess.


Nick had left for Victoria. I had 10 more days in Montreal.


I had forseen the inevitable departure since we started planning the move. He would leave a week sooner than me. I would cry and have to let go. Then I would be alone to process the resolution of a long and loving chapter. There was no way to prepare for how it felt. We were still the best of friends, so it wasn’t like we wouldn’t see each other oftten. There was something special about living together. They portray it well in the movie Frances Ha.


So while I was excited (and anxious again) I was also sad. Sad that Nick and I would no longer live together. Sad that all my lunches and dinners, for the next 10 days, would be made or procured alone. Sad that I will no longer be be teased incessantly.


Over the next few days I sorted out items. A solitary task. There was a multitude of office pens, stationary, tools, and linens to give away or get rid of. Shoes that I loved but never wore because they were too uncomfortable. Pennies. Little items that seem like they could be useful to someone, somewhere, at sometime, but never were. Clothing. Luggage. Dishes. Desks. Lamps we had never used.


It started to become a desperate obsession to give away as much stuff as possible. I no longer cared about selling it; I was drowning in it. There was no end to the sorting of, compiling, throwing things away. I drank lots of wine. But I could not escape the scraps of the past.


The worst was the papers. Tax papers, writing crits, reciepts, tickets from movies or plays or museum shows that I am saving for a scrapbook that I’ve never gotten around to making. All of it demanding careful attention so that I didn’t pack something useless or throw away something important. It’s a lonely prospect to be reduced down to your stuff.


And then, the day arrived and I had to give Phyllis her pill and go to the airport. Even though she had been increasingly suspicious in those last days, she had had complete trust in me. Stuffing that pill down her throat was the most aggressive thing I’ve had to do to her. I was plagued with guilt as I gathered my things.


The air was humid and I was slick with sweat. The “lady upstairs” was anxious to get into the apartment and though I cleaned it, I didn’t have enough time to make it look as nice as I’d liked. Although I’d been preparing for that moment for over a year, everything felt like a rush. My friends had offered to drive me which, in hindsight, was not only nice, but likely another divine hand rushing in. I had raw fear at the idea of taking Phyllis through the maze of construction issues in a Montreal taxi.


When I got to the aiport, I had to wait in a special line because of I was travelling “with kitty.” For some reason, even though the line was incredibly long, there were only two people serving it. My stress mounted, even though I was an hour and a half early. Also, I had just sucked back a litre of sparkling water on the way to the airport, (humid, hot day) so I was hoping to “rest” a moment in the restroom before getting on the plane. No such luck. The security line was “Christmas-Eve” long. They made me take Phyllis out of her cat cage while going through the metal detector. They then told me that I had to take off my shoes while I clutched her drugged and bewildered body. My heart started to race. I had no idea what time it was but I started to sweat profusely and was having trouble breathing. Why don’t they turn up the $%$*#& air conditioner?!?!?! I thought.


Finally through security, I started walking to my gate, for what seemed like forever. Of course it was at the very end of a very long wing! Then, I heard it– the last call for my flight. No bathroom break possible! I ran for it. I could hear my breath, which was not a pretty thing at that moment. I gasped like I had enphysema but was desperate to get on that plane. When I got to the ticket gate the woman gave me a look of concern. She asked me– in earnest– if I was ok.


I had just had a panic attack.


The back of my neck was dripping with sweat as I boarded the plane to my seat. Phyllis– thankfully stoned– said nothing, even though she had been jostled around and manhandled in the soft cat-carrier. The airline attendant took one look at me and asked if I was OK. I said yes out of habit, as sweat was dripping down my face. She then produced a cup of water.



So that was how I exited Montreal. Like a drama queen. Looking back it seems like whirlwind of anxieties, panic, and drudgery. And stuff. Way too much stuff. Only now in the aftermath am I starting to be able to understand what how this move has moved me. I’ll get into that in my next post.