Rendered Fat Content


Two days after taking possession of the new place, we’ve yet to spend a night there. The moving company called yesterday evening to report that they had, indeed, failed to deliver one crate. This crate included bed parts. The place still seems mostly boxes with cardboard walkways taped to floors. We unpack rather haphazardly, adhering to a first things first policy. First we unpack. We will determine the exact more permanent location for stuff once we see what stuff we have. The three months since packing erased most of my memory of what we possess and I’m discovering some serious doubts that we need all or even most of this stuff.

The last place had room to spare. This place seems just the right size. The stuff remembers where it lived in the last place, looking around anxiously for the familiar cues it does not find here. The whole unpacking’s a jumble, unguided by anything more definite than a general notion which doesn’t always work out as very workable. We inventoried every box number and label and found quite a few in the wrong room and several clearly mislabeled. No mistaking a box for the chair listed under that number on the manifest. The Muse resolved all these brain farts. I find it easier unpacking if I just have to move a box to another room and defer emptying it for now. Progress measures itself.

What was open possibility on Monday has by Wednesday morning become a more limited affair.
The pots seem confused in the new kitchen which features much less space for open display. In the last place, the cabinet tops held the big cooking pots and roasting pans. Here, they seem to have gone into hiding. I try to imagine remembering where that big strainer’s secreted in that moment when everything hinges on me finding that big strainer. I try to imagine, then go back to cutting open another in a seemingly endless supply of mystery boxes.

Of course the boxes were packed in the last place’s order, not this one’s, which simply adds to the disarray I experience opening them. Cookbook shelves are shorter, the spice cupboard seems to be short one shelf. I had no idea we had so many gadgets, utensils we might use once or twice each year which must have been carefully camouflaged in the last place. Hey, there’s that nut pick we could not find last Christmas!

Once moved in, locations lose their initial importance. After everything’s found its place, I can safely forget about them. I might use one percent of our stuff on any given day, and this tends to be the same one percent day after day. The ninety nine percent simply fades away—not exactly disappearing, as even the invisible stuff carries an ownership cache—but it does not inhabit my mind. Moving in, my mind overflows and I cannot find my dependable one percent yet. Yet.

Moving is a temporary condition resolved over time. My legs don’t yet know the stairs and must consciously navigate them. The rooms hold unfamiliar names. There is no living room here as we’ve dubbed that space the dining room, intended for state dinners and show. The “family room” will hold its share of what a living room’s supposed to carry, with a view replacing the need for television. The TV will live upstairs where visitors won’t see it and where it cannot creep into our daily lives. Books are already spread between three floors.

If I was only filling empty space with things, this move in would be quite simple, but I’m reconfiguring my brain, too. What so recently required no thought now demands attention from my severely limited attention span. Every little action requires forethought, often followed now by rethinking cycles. My muscles ache with absent memory and as of yet unformed habit. This new, latest dance has yet to define its steps, and I stumble up the stairs again. The last place had no carpet, save the basement room we almost never used. This place has carpet everywhere and every step seems encumbered by unfamiliar friction.

Fortunately, The Muse trundles off the work each morning, so my earliest missteps have no witnesses except for me. I feel as if I am playing solo Parcheesi, competing against myself, sure, but still sliding forward and, more often, slipping backward again. By the end of the day, I seem to have made real progress to anyone not witness to my play. I feel the regressions in my knees and thighs unaccustomed to shlepping boxes up and down snow-covered stairs. My life seems temporarily defined by all I have not found yet, mystified by the labels packers chose to scribble on the boxes. Ninety nine percent of all the labels end Misscl., miscellaneous, the etcetera of the packer’s world. This fairly describes much of what we’ve accumulated. Neither this nor wholly that, but both as well as and, but not completely. I found a half-crushed box of crayons in a box labeled ‘Cookbooks, Misscl'.

Moving entails transforming most of a life’s careful classifications into one huge miscellany then reordering the resulting undifferentiated mess into specific categories again. The box labels intended to describe the contents aren’t quite exactly useless, but if not for the thoughtfully scrawled misscls, the labels would certainly misrepresent if not the contents, then the destination. The last place had no garage and a huge kitchen. This place has a huge garage and a modest kitchen. Some of that garage space seems destined to hold what was once clearly only kitchen material. Everything wants rethinking.

If I sound as if I am half out of my mind, I’m maintaining my presence well. I feel far distanced from what I remember of my mind, identity temporarily (I hope) misclassified beneath a wholly unlikely label. Moving in seems much more a carving-out-while-smothering-under affair. I fight panic every inch of the way, feigning mastery of this form of dislocation under the guise of mere relocation. I say I’m moving in but I’m actually more actively moving out of a familiar but now untouchable presence into one not wholly formed yet. I cannot hold my breath waiting for a definite outcome and cannot know what the eventually order might become. I can open boxes, feel the surprise, then cope with whatever presents itself. Later, after the boxes have been carted away, I’ll see who I have manifested into this time.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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