Yesterday marked our one-month anniversary in the new house. It hardly seems possible that it’s been a month. It only feels like a week, maybe two. Because to be anywhere for a month should give you some sense of feeling settled in. And I still feel out of kilter.
The boxes have almost all been unpacked. Pictures have been hung, and cabinets and closets have been filled. My spare room, which houses the Foo Fighter shrine, is neatly dressed, just awaiting my new rock and roll-themed curtains to replace the awful gold jacquard ones there now. Even the garage, a notorious haven for clutter in every domicile we’ve ever occupied, and a frequent bone of contention between the spouse and me, is looking slightly tidier. We’ve made good progress.
But still, I don’t feel like I’m home yet. More like I’m house-sitting for someone else. And I can’t dismiss the notion that my inability to feel settled is somehow tied to a pair of boxes that went missing.
Moving can be a complex and tedious process. You’re packing every item you own into an overwhelming number of boxes, putting all those boxes into a vehicle, and carting them to a new repository. And it doesn’t matter if you’re moving three miles (as we did) or 3,000. Everything has to make the trip. Except sometimes, everything doesn’t.
I distinctly remember packing both boxes, because they contained items that we used almost daily, and so they were among the last to be packed. One box contained most of our glass baking dishes, and all of my favorite tall coffee mugs. The other contained first-aid type items – bandages, Q-tips, hydrogen peroxide, etc., some skin care products – and all of our good colognes.
When we discovered they were missing, the day after the move, I sent Mark back to the old house to make sure we hadn’t overlooked them. And as we had walked through that house multiple times, including once with the woman we hired to do a final cleaning, I knew they weren’t there. That house was empty. But he looked anyway.
Next we called everyone who had helped us and asked each person to check car trunks and back seats to see if the boxes had accidently gone home with them. Nope. No one was toting any extra bakeware or bandaids.
We combed through all the clutter in the garage, which served as a holding pen for every box, bag or carton as it came off the truck. No sign of the fugitive boxes. They’ll turn up, we told ourselves.
There was nothing of any great value in either of them, and certainly nothing that couldn’t be replaced. No family heirlooms went missing, no expensive treasures were lost. Mostly, it was just an inconvenience at a time when things were already stressful. When you’re dead on your feet, and facing the prospect of having to sort out, organize, and restore order to everything you own (well, ALMOST everything), you just don’t need the aggravation. I didn’t, at least. So it bothered me.
And a month later, still no boxes. And I’m still bothered. It’s an ongoing mystery.
By now, most of what was in them has been replaced. Mark has been preparing his parents’ house for an estate sale, now that they’ve moved to a smaller place, and one day he brought home enough Corning Ware to make up for what was lost. I ordered new coffee mugs from Amazon. I bought more Band-aids and body lotion. Still…
As silly as this may seem, I have to wonder if my ‘unsettled’ feeling would go away if those boxes were to reappear. Perhaps it’s not the things in the boxes, so much as what those things represent to me. They were little pieces of the continuity in my life, something I value tremendously. And that continuity has been completely disrupted, as is always the case when a move happens.
In the grand scheme of things, I can’t say it really matters. This is truly a first-world problem, if I’m honest with myself. No life was lost, no harm was done. It’s just bugging the hell out of me.
When my mom moved to a new place eight years ago, a pair of marble bookends that she’d had for as long as I’d been alive went missing. I remembered packing them at the old place, and felt sure I had seen them when we were sorting through things at the new house. But once the last box was unpacked, and the last tchotchke was set in place, we still couldn’t find them. And it worried both of us.
Maybe that means, as an inherent worrier (truly the mark of a Jewish mother), that I’m destined to worry about those boxes until they turn up. And if they never do, I’ll carry on just the same. But I’ll always wonder. I need closure, damn it!
Despite this ongoing mystery, happily, something that had been lost was found.
Our son has always been the artistic one in the family. He’s a rising star as a voice actor for anime cartoons, a talented bassist, and a creative and skilled artist. When Jarrod was in middle school, he went through a phase in which he would combine an animal with a random inanimate object and create something completely off the wall. His room was papered with drawings of strange things, including a signature character he called a Cheez-guin (cheese wedge + penguin. Brilliant, no?)
For an entry in his 8th grade art show, he made a watercolor painting of a pair of hilarious, whimsical sea creatures he had created during this phase of completely incongruous pairings. This work was known to us as “the Walrito painting”. Think about it. You’ll figure it out.
But at some point, the Walrito painting vanished, much to my disappointment.
Until last week, when I discovered it hidden in a stack of family pictures hiding out in the garage. Not wanting to miss a prime opportunity, I dashed off to Target and found a suitable frame for the Walritos, and hung them on the wall over the mantel in the den. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see them.
So the once-missing Walritos have returned. Lost things have a way of turning up when you least expect them, even if it takes them a while to reappear. Mom finally found the bookends, by the way, about four years later. They were there all along, nestled high on a closet shelf.
This gives me hope that the missing boxes will turn up. They have to be somewhere. They’re in a dark corner of the garage, or buried in someone’s trunk. Or perhaps they’ll pop out of whatever wormhole they were sucked into.
I just want to solve the mystery. Is that too much to ask?
I have contest winners to announce! We encountered some issues with our original March winner, who never responded to my contact attempts, so a re-draw was necessary. The lucky baked goods recipient for March is Wendy from Sacramento, CA, who told me that her mother LOVES lemon squares, and asked me to direct her prize to her mom, Nancy. April’s winner is Gwen from Waltham, MA, who has requested pecan pie bars. I’ll be baking on Sunday, and shipping on Monday. And if you keep on reading, you may be the winner for May! And if you share this blog and invite others to read along, you get extra chances to win.