Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jeannie in a Bottle

25 October 2010 - Houston, Texas

I spent today watching movers deliver the contents of my storage facility into my new apartment. It was like Christmas meets This is Your Life. Houston circa '06 meets London circa '08. John Lewis meets Crate & Barrel. [bxA]

The first few hours were fun. Big warm furniture filled empty spaces. Layers of packing paper revealed curious things from all over my life. I found an autographed photo of Stevie Ray Vaughn on stage at Rockefeller’s and a bathroom scale that measures weight in stones.

I was drunk on domesticity. My apartment has a dishwasher and garbage disposal and microwave and washer and dryer and ceiling fans and hot water and air-conditioning.

Watching the appliances fill up the kitchen, I thought this is what people do. We stay in one place. Accumulate stuff. Stuff that makes life comfortable, pleasurable. I imagined the possibilities. I could get a good job, a bigger place…even buy a place. I could entertain. I could be happy here.

"All of the et ceteras play on my mind" - NYC street artist circa 2003.

I pressed back thoughts of recent invitations to return to Phuket, to sail Sirius in Malaysia, to meet Millennium in Barbados. That was then.

Around midday my parents brought me a turkey sandwich. We sat together in the crooked living room and agreed the scene was manageable. All the big furniture fit inside and now it was just a matter of the incidentals.

“Where are the movers?” Mom asked after 30-minutes went by with no commotion.

“Do you think they’re waiting for us to leave?” Dad wondered.

“No, no” I assured, “they’re just taking a break.” To be sure, I stepped out the front door.

I couldn't believe my eyes. I was mortified. The movers weren’t taking a break, they had been delivering what looked like another entire houseful of furniture to the patio landing outside my door. My apartment was already full.

I turned to my parents in horror. They came to see and burst out laughing, started contemplating ways to fit stuff in their garage.

“No, no. I cannot perpetuate this madness. If it doesn’t fit I need to get rid of it.”

They left. I slumped into a giant chair crammed in a crowded corner.

The boxes kept coming. A pit sunk in my stomach, a lump in my throat. Tears welled behind my eyes. What is all this stuff? What am I going to do with it? Two televisions? What was I thinking? Who was this person that needed all these things? WHY DID I OWN A PRINTER???

Just then I found a miracle on my mobile phone: an email from Sandra, the friend I met at a house party in Beirut and asked for packing advice last July. She said all kinds of accurate things that made me feel better including “are you going through all your sh*t and feeling happily reconnected with it, or do you see it all and think ‘why do I own this???’”

On settling back into stable life, she said, “freedom is a sweet nectar that one cannot really forget the taste of… there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.”

Yikes. I feel like a Jeannie. This feels like a bottle.

And yet I genuinely look forward to living in one place with my own things, going back to work, contributing to my 401k, saving for a rainy day.

But then there are the sailboats...

“We spend all our time
searching for security
and hate it when we get it.”
--John Steinbeck


Anonymous said...

I think i know how you feel.Anyhow welcome to the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Sailboats.......you just HAD to go there, huh? :) Welcome back to H-town!
Kathy Smith

Anonymous said...

Ms. Flint, you are a writer. That flowed like a river sailing me along like a happy boat bobbing along. Then without warning you threw us over the edge of the waterfall. An emotional read. Wished I had been there at your new abode and, of course, to be weighed in those oh so modern of units - stones.

Great read.