5 a.m. I am awake. The jet lag has improved from the day before, when I was up for the day at 3 a.m., but it’s still so early. My mind races with everything that has to be done today.
7 a.m. At the breakfast buffet I order a giant spinach and cheese omelet, with home fries and an orange. My stomach feels a little full.
9 a.m. I check out of our hotel and walk over to Burlington Place to check on the cat, clear room for the movers, and get ready for what should be a smooth, uneventful process.
10 a.m. The movers drive up in a large white truck. Bob is nowhere to be found. One guy asks to use the bathroom and I direct him to an upstairs one, since Smudge is tucked away in the basement loo.
10:10 a.m. “Um, your toilet is overflowing,” one of the young movers says to me. I rush upstairs and water is pooling on the floor of the master bathroom. This is not the start to the day that I had envisioned. I mop up the wet with one of the few towels in the house and call our management company for thoughts on why the toilet has suddenly developed a mind of its own.
10:15 a.m. Water is flowing through a hanging light onto the kitchen counter. “Do you still want us to put things in the kitchen?” asks one mover. Since we have 300 boxes coming into a house that can probably hold 25 boxes, I tell him yes. The boxes start to pile up. Bob makes an appearance.
11 a.m. I stand in the frigid sunlight on the front porch, checking off boxes as they are unloaded and brought into the house. Since I’m moving furniture around (but already have it figured out in my head) I need the movers not only to call out the number but to describe how the box is marked. “Basement, decorative items” they call out. There’s a suspicious number of “decorative items.”
12 noon. “Are you taking a lunch break?” I ask the movers. They say no. I imagine that they want to work through lunch and finish early.
1 p.m. The boxes seem to come in no clear order, so I play moving-day bingo as the movers call out numbers. 125! 47! 88! they call. This is the moment when several neighbors, God love them, decide to engage me in conversation, which taxes my jet-lagged brain beyond the ability to be moderately civil.
1:30 p.m. My blood sugar is on the floor. I’d sent Bob off to buy sandwiches and he seems to have gotten lost. Finally he arrives and I sit on the curb wolfing down the best tuna on a baguette I’ve ever eaten in my life.
2 p.m. A plumber informs me that the toilet, not having been flushed for two months, has dry rot and that it would make more sense to replace it than to repair it. Okay, I say. We’re now down to two house toilets: the one in the upstairs hallway bathroom, popular with the seven moving fellows, and the one in the basement occupied by Smudge. My stomach decides this is a great time to digest my food quite efficiently. Actually, too efficiently.
3 p.m. Another problem arises. The sleeper sofa (“No, it’s not a sleeper sofa,” one of the movers informs me as if I don’t know the couch I’ve stuck guests on for 15 years. “Yes, it is,” I say) needs to go in the basement. It won’t fit around the tight turn in the center hall down the basement stairs, so it has to go through the back basement door. But the door is locked. The skeleton key doesn’t work. We now have a sleeper sofa standing like a massive terracotta warrior in the middle of the hall, possibly there for perpetuity.
4 p.m. We’ve called a locksmith, and the most handsome locksmith I’ve ever seen arrives. With a two-day beard and Antonio Banderas eyes, he says, “I’ve come to rescue you.” He has no idea.
5 p.m. The door is open, and the couch is squeezed, just barely into the basement. There’s a forest worth of wrapping paper piled up in a giant mountain next to the truck. I break out a Blue Moon beer, part of the care package that Rachel has so kindly delivered to our hotel.
5:30 p.m. I start looking at the items that are scattered, willy nilly, on every surface of the house. There’s a prescription for Claritin that expired in 2007. Cuban cigars. Ripped tee shirts. Wrapping paper. A bag of pine cones. Comic books. A straw hat. The poncho that Aunt Ro knitted for me when I was 13. An Australian outback hat. So. Much. Stuff. How did we accumulate so much?
5:45 p.m. The movers leave, driving off with what seems almost as much in their truck as when they arrived. We’ve convinced them to take some tables, a couch, and a really wrecked picnic table off our hands.
6:30 p.m. We meet friends for pizza. I take a bite of New Haven clam pizza, and I have a moment. It’s not a Handsome Locksmith moment, but it’s a close second. The day is over. And we only have 3,000 random “decorative” items to deal with. Tomorrow is another day.