My wife and I are in the late stages of a move from the apartment we've lived in for the last 2-plus years to a very nice house here in McCook. Those of you who have moved in your lives (which means most of you) know the hiccups and headaches that come with each stage of the process, early on or most of the way through or anywhere in the middle.
And I kid you not, one of the biggest ache-makers for me was packing up and carting off my movie collection. I've written about its formidable size before in this column; although I do not have the largest selection of titles on Earth, housed in a pile of protective plastic cases stacked so deep that they can be seen from space, it sure seems that way sometimes.
Like last week. I spent the better part of a day reassembling cardboard boxes and filling them (far too rapidly, I might add) with feature films and TV-on-disc sets. At the start of the process, I had intended to be cautious while I was putting my collection into their corrugated transports, acting as the genteel curator of an antiquities museum: precise, analytical and delicate in handling the cargo.
But time's a precious commodity when you've already got one foot out the door, so there was no time to be neat and tidy when stacking and packing -- organization had to wait. (Okay, you got me; they weren't that organized when they were on the shelves.) Soon, I found myself thinking and acting less as a wary-eyed curator and more along the lines of a careless and none-too-choosy burglar in that same museum. At first, my fingers closed around individual disc boxes, then Dagwood-sandwich-sized stacks, then my arms were sweeping shelves clear, pinning the contents to my chest before releasing the materials to the carpeted floor. Then I started tossing movies into boxes, paying little heed to what went where and why.
The sun had set long before I finished sealing the last encasement. Once I'd torn the last strip of tape, I looked over the assemblage of cardboard vessels -- a virtual fleet, ready to travel, waiting for command -- and past them to the empty shelves that had held their contents for more than 2 years. Then I looked further, to the now-bare walls and the carpet that still held the indents of furniture that had been cleared away. And I thought about how foreign the place seemed now. No, not foreign -- alien. It sure looked like the place I'd called home for a while, because that's what it was (and I knew that, of course), but if I'd suddenly forgotten these last couple of years, I likely would have chalked it up to déjà vu.
Conflicting emotions rolled through me. I was happy to be done with a job that I couldn't put off for another day, sure, but there was also this sense of loss nibbling at me -- this was one of the last times that I'd be in this room. I remembered bringing some of these same boxes in here when we moved in, I remembered thinking about how I planned to set up the shelves, I remembered stepping inside to pick out a title or two for a Saturday night in front of the TV with my wife.
Now, I didn't get teary about it, or whisper a reluctance, or sit against the wall, paralyzed with angst. It was just, for the first time during the last month or so, that our moving was becoming a reality, and it caught me off-guard for the moment. My wife and I were leaving this place, and we weren't coming back.
So even though I am definitely excited and pleased that my wife and I are moving our lives into a different space, I realized that I will definitely miss the old one, at least for a little while.
Then, feeling part-wistful, part-wishful, I grabbed at one the boxes to take it out of the room and lifted.
Suddenly, a host of new -- and painful -- reasons why I was going to miss having my movies in this room sprung to mind (and other body parts, for that matter).