Home Sweet Home


Posted on September 12th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

So, it turns out, I’m married.

Legal-like. Official. Rings and everything.

Whoda thunk it?

Valarie and I got married on June 26th, and since then, it’s been a whirlwind of activity; we planned a party, changed all our bank accounts and bills, booked a vacation, and started moving under the same roof.

Along the way, I played a gig with Steve Mac and John Cadotte at the summer stroll, wrote two short stories for a contest, and managed to donate dozens of bags of unwanted clothes to goodwill. It’s been a productive summer, but one item¬†still remained.

I hadn’t moved out of my apartment.

Oh, I stayed at my new house plenty of nights, and I managed to bring a bunch of boxes to my new residence…

but I still hadn’t move out.

That all changed this past week.

The first item of business was moving the cats. That went as smooth as glass.

Ok, that’s a lie. It was a nightmare. I stressed about it for days, and then I wanted to postpone when the day actually came. Valarie and I agreed that I would be responsible for wrangling the female, Riley, while she grabbed Mackey, the male. We managed to get them into the pet carriers without much difficulty; (I had to lure her in with cat treats) and everything seemed to be going well.

Then Riley cried.

I almost let her out. I was sweating profusely. Valarie gave me a look of disgust as I gently carried Riley to the car, placing her down like she was a piece of crystal. Mackey was relatively calm, but Riley was crying and trying to bite through the cage, it was almost more than I could take. I tried to talk to her in soothing tones to help calm her.

“You’re a helicopter parent,” Val said with contempt.

We got them to the new house and let them out as soon as possible. Mackey went about exploring the house. Riley ran straight under the bed.

And stayed there for three days.

Despite my coaxing and cajoling, she wouldn’t come out for me. It became obvious that she was coming out in the middle of the night, we could hear her creeping and the dry food was gone in the morning, but there were no daytime visits. I was crestfallen.

“Why the face?” Valarie asked.

“I think she’s mad at me. She wants to go home.”

Valarie’s reply is not suitable for a family blog.

Yesterday was moving day. Valarie knows someone who knows someone who has a moving company. The three russians showed up at 10am as promised. They were strong like bull.

And dumb as stumps.

Twice I had to show them how to angle the couches to get them through the doorway. Aside from that, the move was pretty simple. Two couches, a file cabinet, two appliances and a couple of boxes.

And my desk.

Everyone has one possession that they value more than all the others. For some it’s the Porche; for some it’s the old baseball glove, or the hunting rifle.

For me, it’s the desk. It’s my domain. A big, cumbersome, six drawer desk. I knew it was going to present a problem, but when they suggested that it needs to be disassembled, I almost freaked.

“It came here in one piece, it’s going out the same way.”

They looked at me dumbfounded. I didn’t budge. It took two more tries, but they finally got it down the stairs and into the truck. The move into my new office went a little bit smoother. I finally had a corner of the house to call my own.

Last night, after everyone went to bed, I went up to my new office and sat down at my old desk and attempted to write a blog for the first time in two and a half months. I tried to write about the wedding, and the party and all the other happily married stuff…

It stunk.

I was ready to give up and call it a night when I heard the familiar sound of cat claws on a hardwood floor. Riley poked her head into the room and jumped up on my desk before making her way over and settling into my lap. I could feel the lump swelling in my throat. I was home, and homesick at the same time. She laid in my lap for ten minutes before she got bored and took off for parts unknown.

Last night I slept like a baby for the first time in a week.

This morning, I decided to get a bit of outdoor exercise by power-walking in my new neighborhood. I live in Dyker Heights now. It’s about a half-mile from my former residence, but it might as well be worlds apart. Oh, the streets look the same, and the houses are similar, and the people resemble the people that I pass by on my walks in Bay Ridge, but it’s different now.

I went to Leif Erikson park to do some calisthenics. For the better park of 50 years, I exercised in Owl’s Head Park. It was my home away from home. It was my refuge. Leif Erickson is just a flat, narrow strip of land. There is no Dead Man’s Hill. There were plenty of people; mothers pushing strollers, ancient asian women practicing Tai-chi, men walking their little dogs. It was their little slice of paradise, but it wasn’t the same.

I could hear my old man mocking me, “Of course it wasn’t the same, that’s why they call it change, dummy.”

I headed back to the house, jumped into Val’s truck and drove back to the old homestead. There are still boxes and junk to be moved or tossed out. For weeks I’ve been putting junk out on the stoop and I’ve been amazed that everything gets picked up. And I mean everything: old shoes, baseball hats, mom’s old bifocals, candles – you name it, they take it. Good for them. One man’s junk is another man’s… useful item, although the idea that someone would wear my old sneakers seems a bit unnerving. Today¬†I carried a nightstand and a lamp out into the street. They were gone by the time I returned with the old vacuum. I tossed out a bag of old photos that got ruined by a leaky ceiling. I carried down a crate of CD’s and placed them in the truck. When I got back upstairs, I was struck by how empty the apartment was. It reminded me of the first time I saw it; I was a young man of 26, moving out from his mamma’s home for the first time. I was excited and scared all at once; pretty much the same way I feel now. I grew up in the apartment; I lived my entire adult life there, first with a roommate, and for the last 15 years, as a lone wolf. I loved every second of it, but at the moment, I felt like a stranger. My desk was gone, as were my couches and my TV. All that remained was the bed, some boxes and a lifetime of memories. They can wait for another day. A trip to California beckons next week, but for the moment, it was time to head back…

home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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