It would be important to have the living room looking beautiful as soon as we could, I thought. It would keep me from being discouraged at the slow pace and inevitable chaos of the move, and from the annoyance of accomplishing it on crutches, the result of an injury too painful and stupid to discuss here. So I unwrapped some nice transfer ware pieces, some antique books and an extremely cool-looking console radio that still plays, for a pretty display on the corner shelf. I settled on a minimal arrangement of furniture in the tiny room and brought in two of our loveliest plants. It looks nice, really nice. Really small, of course, but warm and inviting.
Keeping it that way is a challenge. Every day, I make the living room look
nice. By the end of the day, more boxes have arrived and it looks like hell again. Did I mention that it's a small room? It's easy to make it beautiful and easy to mess it up. I do both, several times a day.
Interesting events keep interrupting the progress of our settling in: a
hurricane flooding the basement and cutting off electrical power for days, a once-in-more-than-a-century autumn snowstorm felling ancient trees unable to bear the combined weight of wet snow AND their unshed leaves. The guys who run tree services have had a very good year and have become as elusive as movie stars. You need a tree collapsed on a live electrical wire taking out power on your whole block before they'll even return your call.
"Anything I can do to help?" Q wants to know as I heat up some split pea soup for supper after a long day in the city. The sauce pans are bivouacked on top of the refrigerator for now, as the new pot rack isn't up yet. Not until the wall is painted, Hugh says. Hugh is our new household god. He was going to paint the kitchen today, now that the new floor is down, but instead spent it out back with a chain saw, freeing a gutter from the tree that crushed it and repairing the hole the tree made in the roof.
"Well, you could clear a space at the table." This is easily done, too: you
just shift stuff away from the middle of the table to either end. When your
excavation reaches a place mat, you're there. Put your silverware and a napkin on it, light a candle and bon appetit.
The last items from my clothes cupboard at the old house have arrived by pickup truck. They are spread out on the bed, awaiting deployment: albs, cassocks, surplices and stoles to the church; 1939 Chanel evening dress into a box, along with my mother-of-the-bride dresses, summer things filed away, scarves fearing another triage -- I must have had fifty scarves. Nobody needs fifty scarves. Probably nobody needs ten, either. We shall see.
Flitting as I do from one unfinished task to the next makes me tired and sore of leg every night, very glad to be horizontal at last. Glad, also, for one thing we could not have known when we moved here: there is a star outside the bedroom window. I watch it from my pillow. Tonight, the moon has joined it. The two of them gaze back at us all, pearly in the night sky.
"We've moved house," I tell them silently. I don't want to wake Q.
"We move all the time," they answer, and the moon smiles. "We're never in the same place. Neither are you, you know. You're moving all the time, too. We all are."
"So I hear," I say, sleepily remembering something from an astronomy class in college. "I love seeing you out my window. Whenever you appear, I see you."
"We see you, too. Lots of changes in your life. You need to sleep now."
I close my eyes on their beauty. Sleep settles on me tenderly, like a mist.