Moving On Up

Dearest Rachel –

Yes, we’re moving on up, to the upstairs of the split-level section of the house. Unlike the Jeffersons’ theme, I think it’s the south side of our house – I was never particularly good at orientation, and determining direction based on a compass: whatever direction I was facing, I always felt like it was north, or at least the main direction on the compass rose (essentially the same thing).

Anyway, this afternoon, Jan and I were going over progress made on cleaning the house. Daniel has finally gotten into the act – I basically explained that if he doesn’t go through his own stuff, and determine what can get pitched, what can get donated, and what still needs to be kept (and where; stuff needs a place from now on. It’s a decidedly cutesy word, but we’re going to make an effort to get rid of the ‘floordrobe’ going forward), Jan will do so on his behalf. I don’t really like invoking her as the “bad cop,” but it does get results.

On Tuesday, he had brought down a whole bunch of articles from his closet – and I’m pretty sure there were several sweaters that were yours rather than his – and again today (or maybe it was late last night?) he brought down another couple of arm loads. So progress – however slow – is being made, and Jan seems reasonably satisfied. There’s still a ways to go, to be sure, but there are other rooms upstairs to deal with, And I’m hoping that Daniel can make further progress while we work on those rooms.

Such as the office. Yes the title is getting a little confusing now, since I generally refer to the basement set up that I have at the folks’ place as my “office.” And to be sure, it has a lot more of the accoutrements that I would consider to be necessary for an office set up over there. But this particular extra bedroom that was part of the house when we bought it was used as a quasi-office for quite some time. At least, it was the room in which we kept our computer, back in the old days when we really only had the one, tower-style desktop computer.

But as that old desktop grew old and slow, and I started accumulating cheap used laptops from my old workplace, it wasn’t necessary to spend all the time up there on that specific machine. And as a result, that machine languished while we began using ever more powerful – and portable – machines. Indeed, the first thing we did on the way into the room today was to take that old tower out and set it by the door, to be eventually taken to Best Buy for recycling. At this point the cover has been removed, and the main ‘engine block,’ you might call it, is just dangling from the unit by a handful of cords. Honestly, I don’t think it’s useful for anything at this point except scrap.

And speaking of scrap, there’s a lot of scrap paper on the floor as we walk in. Some things might well be worth keeping, like instruction manuals for some of the VCRs that still exist in the bedroom – and if I’m not mistaken, the family room as well. There, too, was the occasional recipe, which I expect was out because you used it for one thing or another, rather than it being in the little box on the one bookshelf, so that needed salvaging. But for the most part, it was various miscellaneous paperwork – old bills and bank statements – nothing I should really be keeping, especially after all this time.

However, at one point on the way, I found what has to be the mother lode of your written commentaries: your BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) homework. This looks to be spanning at least two or three years worth, and it’s just chock-full of notes. Now, I remember when I was in school I could write in a tiny, crabbed hand, but you come pretty close to matching my minuscule handwriting in this collection. In any event, it’s material for years and years of Sundays, should I so choose.

There were a few artworks by Daniel up here as well, mostly assignments from his architecture class at Harper, before he determined that he wasn’t cut out for the profession. It seems he kept all the drafts, including those made on tissue paper to create perspective in the first place, as well as the final drawings complete with characters interacting with the room he had designed. I haven’t precisely thrown out the tissue paper drafts, but they’re waiting to be put in the recycling bin. Considering that he has the more finished versions on more durable paper, I’d tend to keep those over the rough drafts.

At another point, Jan handed me something that was bundled in rolled-up newspaper, and then further bundled inside several plastic bags, one on either end, held together by the plastic from a bag of frozen vegetables (I know that sounds ridiculous, honey, but I couldn’t make this stuff up, and you know it). “I don’t want to mess with this,” she told me, and left me to open it up. After gingerly unsealing the tape, removing the plastic bags, and unrolling the newspapers, I found… nothing. There wasn’t anything in all this packaging. I feel like I’ve been punked.

The weird thing is, I know that there’s some things that I haven’t found yet that I still expect to at some point. I remember those tapestries that your dad made to commemorate a display of Al Hirshfield’s artwork at the university – in particular, that one image of the seven Doctors. I know you, and how much of a fan of Doctor Who you were – I know you wouldn’t have gotten rid of that thing (and if Jan had found it, she wouldn’t of gotten rid of it either). So I hardly need to say how much of a disappointment was to unwrap that, only to find nothing inside. I’d say it was probably the weirdest thing I’ve seen as we’ve gone through this process of cleaning house.

Although, maybe not. Even as I was putting those newspapers in the recycling bin, Jan was lifting up something else that she had discovered. She seemed to think it was the (and I quote) “the most Rachel thing ever,”while I think it was more likely a contraption of your dad’s manufacture. Regardless, here it is:

Yes, those are plastic shopping bags looped through the carrying holes of that box, in order to create handles.

Whether this is from you or your dad, I can’t deny that this is just something so quintessentially… Sanders. For all I know, your mom might well have done something like this, too.

But at this point, we were running out of time – and much to Jan’s concern, I hadn’t eaten yet; at least, not since she’s been around. So we brought things to a halt, I grabbed some leftovers and put them in the toaster oven, paid her and we called it a day. In some ways, we made a lot of progress. In other other ways, it doesn’t look like we have even made a dent in that room. And we still have three others to go through on that floor.

Daniel had suggested having a sort of house re-warming party once everything gets done. I’d started an entry about that, and I still need to flesh that out before I send it to you. At the same time, it may still be a while before that happens. He thinks it will be fairly soon, while Jan thinks it might yet take months. Still, if we could get thing together by August, it wouldn’t be a bad month to hold it in. It’s a month with no holidays, other than being in the middle of the summer heat. Hopefully, we can pull this off. And by then, presumably, our transformation will be complete.

As always, I wish you could see it. I don’t know what you’d think, but I’d hope you’d like it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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