Christian and I had been looking forward to the day the moving truck would deliver the boxes and furniture from storage for two years, two months and six days. October 8, 2010, was the day we thought we would no longer have conversations that started with “Where is….?” and ended with “Oh yeah, it’s in storage…”
My parents held down the fort in the morning, and I raced home at lunchtime to supervise the truck unloading. The back porch had been designated as the temporary holding place for everything that would come off of the truck. I had no doubt that I’d get every last box unpacked before the weekend was over. Then they opened the truck, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I think there’s an opportunity for a reality intervention show to assist crazed and irrational women who discover that they had enough stuff in storage to fill an entire room and then some.
The scene at my house was the polar opposite of what I imagine an episode of Hoarders to be.
Hell-bent on giving everything away that I could, I ignored my parents and their voice of reason, pointed at things like the lawn mower and deep freeze, and said to the movers, “Do you want that? You can have it.”
I opened boxes and said, “I haven’t used this in more than two years, I must not really need it. Mark this box to donate.”
“Mom, you can’t give away the china, if you do that, what will we use for special occasions?” Christian stated.
I slowed my break-neck gave away pace and started listening to reason (at least more than I had been). My mom and I unpacked like mad women while Christian and my dad organized the shed. After a full day of sweat and hard work, a pile of emptied boxes and packing material as tall as the fence stretched from the gate to the trash cans and there was no discernible dent in the piles on the porch. I think my parents were relieved to head back to St. Louis.
Christian and I tried making it into a game called Guess What’s in This Box, but we quickly grew tired of playing, the weather got too cold, and the days became too short. Over Christmas Jeff and Katie dug out the snow-dusted boxes marked with their names and spent a good part of the holiday laughing while sorting through things on memory lane.
I decide to ignore the state of the porch until spring, which wasn’t easy because we let the dogs out the back door and between the corridor of boxes on the porch. As luck would have it, Katie needed a place to stay when she returned from her study abroad program and before heading back to Chicago. By the end of June, the contents of the porch consisted of a few leftover paintings, a couple of pieces of furniture, and a box of canceled checks which dated back as far as 1989. I’m sure the trash collectors and Purple Heart Donation truck drivers wondered if and when we would ever be done moving in.
Thanks to my parents and kids, Christian’s friend Steve, and Eric the handyman and his sidekick, it only took three hundred twenty-two days to clean out the porch and make it into a room we could use. I no longer answer “Where is….” with “It’s in storage….” but the conversation does sometimes end in “Remember, you gave that away…”
The bright orange table and chest that Katie painted coordinated well with the brown wicker furniture and tan cushions. It was perfect! Well almost.
The vinyl blinds had seen better days, but knowing how expensive it would be to replace them, I decided to think about it the following spring and in the meantime just look at the ones that weren’t too bad. Winter took a big toll on the blinds. One window was covered by a dozen brown slats barely suspended by a web of string.
I found silk sunflowers to put in a basket at Michaels, fun sunflower pillows for ten dollars each at the Giant supermarket, and the solution to my window coverings at Acme.
I recognized Maria from the local runners club and waited for her to come through the checkout line so I could say hello. We had over a year of happenings to catch up on. Our conversation took a turn toward decorating and getting settled into a new home.
“Maria, I’m almost there. I just need to find someone who can sew and knows where to buy inexpensive material to make window coverings for my porch.” I said.
I don’t think I gave her an option when I replied, “Oh Maria! Will you make me some window coverings? I’ll pay you, just let me know how much.”
She introduced me to Jomar, a store in Philadelphia, that can only be described as Home Goods, and TJ Maxx meets Jo-Ann Fabrics and a flea market. I left the store with twenty-two yards of quality fabric for $22.00. She had a vision, and I had trust.
Two weeks later and true to her word, she removed the tattered blinds and hung cleverly made panels from the hooks above the windows. She attached the tiebacks and swept the window covering aside exposing the windows through soft curves of fabric. She transformed the porch one window at a time.
Was running into her at the grocery store coincidence or was it serendipity? I know what I believe.