In fact, this young man seems pleased at the condition of my place and the scenic view from my expansive windows. But when I reveal the bedroom, which is concealed behind a sliding door, he folds his arms and says, "I'll have to switch out the bed for king-size."
"That's a shame," I tell him, "it's only a year-and-a-half old." We both stare at the full-size box spring and mattress, with Anthony envisioning how to fit in a new larger one. As for me, I'm conjuring the one I left behind when I moved from the Dakin St. house I shared with Tommy, to this River North high rise.
In that transition, I used an estate sale to dispose of most of my furniture and the contents of closets, drawers, shelves, and cupboards. Poof, 14 years of marital accumulation gone, as if a magician had waved a wand, making all disappear -except for memories.
With my upcoming move from Chicago to Los Angeles, I am the sorcerer. Faster than you can say "abracadabra," via a Craigslist ad, I found Anthony to take over the remaining six months of my lease, thus avoiding a two-month penalty. The slight-of-hand I used to lure him simply involved accepting the suggestion of my designer friend, Karen, and changing the listing from "rental" to "furnished-rental."
"A cross-country moving truck would be too expensive," I explained to those still reeling from my announcement that I not only decided to move to L.A., but it would take place in one month's time.
Of course, Anthony isn't concerned with my logic; he had been seeking a temporary residence until a nearby condo he is rehabbing is finished, so our quick-change act works out well for both of us.
When we turn to study my mini office with the sapphire blue desk and bench, Anthony laughs as I say, "you'll never fit there."
My friend Chris, an artist, not only painted the two pieces a bright color to disguise their country-style provenance, but he cut the legs to make it fit my four-nine size.
That same blue color transformed our coffee table -- the one that stood between Tommy's and my facing couches, home for the pencils he used for his cross-word puzzles, TV remotes, and the Post-it notes that conveyed our chatter in the last silent years of his life. In this downtown apartment, the table has held the same props, except for the crossword puzzles. Now, the Post-it notes are only used for reminders from my buzzing brain.
In that previous move in April 2013, I stood at the living room window early in the morning awaiting the arrival of the truck that would cart away my small load. This time, there will be no window watching for I am using a large grocery cart to transport boxes to a UPS store two blocks away. Cartons of photographs, previously stored in garages, or basements, lockers, and closets have already gone to my daughter Jill's home in Los Angeles.
"Do you want my china?" I asked in a text to her. Six dinner-sized and six salad-sized Wedgewood were rescued from the set I had left for the house sale. I've had them for 54 years, 24 longer than the marriage that brought them.
"Nah," was Jill's first response to my offer. Then this, "I think I do want those dishes. Yom Kippur realization!" (Some spiritualism at play here?)
Recently, a neighbor came to my apartment to pick up a scarf she had left behind at an event we both attended. Because I was in that neighborhood for a lunch date, I was able to retrieve it for her. "How can you leave all of this behind?" she said, her eyes tearing as she scanned the space.
"It's just stuff," I said.
"But, you did such a great job putting it all together."
Later, my therapist suggested that what my neighbor really meant was, "How can you leave me behind?"
Does my neighbor speak for all of my dear friends whom I'll soon hug goodbye? Could they really believe I'll allow our relationships to vanish? Through the magic of airplane travel, e-mail, Facebook, and cell phones, our ties will endure. We are tightly bound; even the famous Houdini would fail to separate us.