list two: uprooting

  1. There were boxes everywhere, but mostly in a large stack in the middle of the basement, our books and papers and heavy, sturdy things. And then the closets, where I stacked our clothes and the things from my desk and the top of the dresser, heavy glass candles and dishes my grandmother made during the war. Myron came home late at night, exhausted after working all day and flying for hours.
  2. Every time he goes away for more than a few days, there is a moment on his return when I look at his face and don’t recognize him. Then the truth of him reappears and I cannot remember what it felt like to be empty of it.
  3. The next day, we packed and packed. I left too much of the kitchen to the last minute. We used more rolls of tape than I can even tell you, more boxes, more paper. He constructed two-box hybrids to encase mirrors, artwork, and even the plant he nurtured from tinydom into almost-treedom. Before eleven, we were done.
  4. It was the first time ever—ever, in all my moves, and there have been so many—that I finished at a reasonable hour on the day I meant to, instead of staying up all night. Still I woke up needlessly early the next day, frantic and tightly wound. No matter how many times you go through this, I can’t imagine that it ever becomes routine and unsusceptible to gigantic error.
  5. We slid our suitcases into the bathroom and tried to stay out of the way of the movers, who were everywhere. More snow had fallen the night before, and the door stayed open all day. We ended up hiding in the bathroom, devices in hand, while the heavy boots and low voices echoed through the rapidly emptying house. I thought to take pictures, but the scene was nothing I’d want to remember, so I left the camera in its case.
  6. We cleaned. Scrubbed. I polished the refrigerator shelves and freezer bins and the cooktop. Myron cleaned the bathroom, swept the basement. The last thing I did was spray the almond-scented cleaner and buff the hardwood one last time. While I pushed the velvety mop in little circles, I invented and sang an impolite song that made Myron smile. No, I won’t sing it for you.
  7. We caught a bus to the city. I dragged my massive suitcase behind me, mounted my backpack on my shoulders, wrapped myself in gloves and hat and coat. The cold was unbelievable. I stopped twice to cough and cough and cough. I walked along the highway for the last time, mostly on an unpaved shoulder. After about ten minutes I stopped feeling my legs, but somehow they kept moving. The hot breath trapped by my scarf clouded my glasses with steam. I counted breaths until I made it to the intersection, crossed the street, and then counted breaths some more. The suitcase lolled on its cheap wheels and I let it fall and picked it up again. I couldn’t speak the entire ride. In the hotel that night—the same hotel where I stayed my first night in Ottawa, the place where I said yeah, I could stay here—I slept like the dead.
  8. Friday morning we signed a few papers and split up. Myron went to the national archives and I went for my last haircut with the astronomically talented Kim. I wonder about these curls and how they’ll fare in the hands of someone less talented. These days, they bounce and swoop and I should really take a picture of them before they grow out.
  9. And then we left, and I feel like I should have felt more, but maybe I had spent so many weeks feeling so damn much that there was nothing left to feel. Instead, there has been gentle quiet in my temporary home, and no pressure, and sleep, and coconut sorbet, and a bit of transplant shock, and tabbouleh.

For a while now I’ve been wanting to do a year’s worth of lists a la hula seventy. Let’s see how long I can keep this up.