My voice echoed in my daughter’s half-empty room when I called out to Mark, “Yes, I think we’ve packed everything.” I’d worked into the wee hours the night before, clearing Josie’s large bookcase before finally lifting out the loose shelves making it easier to carry. Besides four plastic crates packed with books and other things from the shelves, I’d wrapped her lava lamp and several breakables with paper and fit them into a big cardboard box like they were puzzle pieces with all the odds and ends that had decorated her room. Josie has lived away from home for the biggest part of two years now, but most of her things were still here with us, holding her place. We’d been talking about her moving to an apartment all summer. I’d had plenty of time to think about it, but the half-empty room sealed the deal. I sank down on the beat-up recliner that once crowded the room, now with so much space around it. My face twisted up with tears like a spent rag wrings a few last drops of water.
We considered renting a truck or trailer to make the move, but Mark decided to buy a utility trailer at the last minute. He said it would be a good investment since he’d use it for other things. Mark disassembled the big futon/bunk bed that had slept many friends over the years. It helped me while my broken ribs mended after an accident. I pulled myself to sitting on the rungs supporting the top bunk. I owed that bed. Now it nearly filled the trailer. The back of the borrowed pickup that would tow it was packed, too.
The conflicting dialogue came while we filled our coffee mugs.
MARK: “Does Kathie have a game?” (She’s a JV cheerleader.)
LAURIE: “She has to be ready by 9. Kelly is picking her up.”
MARK: “Is that a yes?”
Mark always complains about my gray answers. It’s not that I don’t understand the clarity of black or white; it’s just that I enjoy filling them in with plenty of color. Then there’s the matter of his double standards that get me going.
LAURIE: “Do you have a place planned to park the trailer?”
MARK: “I’m not sure yet.”
LAURIE: “That’s a no then?”
MARK: “No, that’s not a no.”
“It most certainly is,” I thought, and I exploded, “If it’s OK for you to answer that way, why can’t I?”
After unloading at Kent, Mark’s plan to ride with Josie while I rode with her boyfriend, James, was a great idea.
James has entered the private world of our family’s clutter with a quiet acceptance – though I’m sure he doesn’t understand it and wishes my house was neater. So do I. He confessed to me that Josie is the most organized person he’s ever met. It’s funny how traits seem to skip generations.
Josie just turned 20, and it’s a little sad to think she’s moved out of our house, but I’m happy to know her apartment will probably be as neat as a pin.