The only clean things I had this afternoon were a pair of old pajama pants and a long-sleeved purple shirt that has a sickle and hammer logo and CCCP on it in bright commie pinko red. My dad gave it to me in about 1988 (pre Berlin-wall-fall!) and it’s about six sizes too big and I am not entirely sure why I have schlepped it through my various moves since then, but it’s clean and it’s warm and a little hilarious and it’s been way too long since I did laundry.
I came home from my very nice lunch on Market Street …which culminated in a visit to the hippiest hippie café in all of Hemplandia for a pomegranate-lemon chai and an impromptu Reiki session from my friend Mindy…and was seized immediately with the desire to vacuum my room. I am nothing like a neat freak and can live quite happily with a certain amount of squalor as long as that squalor mostly involves socks on the floor and piles of books and possibly my car’s new registration, as opposed to a dead body or something. But you know how you can happily sail along living in your own filth and feeling fine about having to pick your way through that bag you haven’t gotten around to unpacking from your visit home at Christmas and that stack of Atlantic Monthlys you’ve been meaning to getting around to read in order to get to your bed…and all of a sudden the switch flips and you get a little frown mark between your eyes and you cast a critical glare over the disarray of your habitation and think to yourself “Now where did I leave my environmentally friendly orange-scented spray cleanser?”
I vacuumed and did laundry and took out the trash and made my bed for real instead of the fake cosmetic bed-making I do every morning. I picked up the no-man’s land of Netflix wrappers and earrings and floss that surrounds my nightstand and tidied my shoe holder. I arranged my ever-growing stable of products in the bathroom and put all the books I got from Gael the other night on my to-be-read shelf and if I hadn’t needed a dinner break I might have organized my drawers too.
Every time I went into the closet I would look at my summer dresses and skirts and short-sleeved shirts, hanging patiently in the back, biding their time. I’m pretty much done with winter…although I have a sense that winter is not completely done with me, and boy am I tired of never knowing what the weather is going to be like and having to wear fifteen layers and struggle in and out of sweaters…and I kept looking longingly at strappy tops and open-toed sandals and looking forward to spring and eventually summer. I don’t think I’ll ever get truly used to have seasons because I have never been able to believe, during the winter, that one day I will again wear flip-flops, or to understand at a gut level that just because one wears flippy skirts in July that one cannot wear them in February, at least not in the Pacific Northwest.
I leave for New Zealand in about four months. A couple of weeks ago I sold and gave away three big Old Navy bags of clothes and shoes, and when my mom called me this evening to ask what I want for my birthday I said “Nothing that I will have to put into storage.” Things are chuntering along nicely…my pack is leaning in the corner and I have travel insurance and an end date at work and nascent plans for a going-away party and everything. I’ve been doing my Kiwi research and so I know who their prime minister is, and that they say “jandals” instead of flip-flops and that for some reason they put beets on their hamburger (which I personally don’t think can really be true but I will report back). I’ve got plans in place for what to do with the purple futon and what to do with the car, what to do with my student loans and what to do with my visa. I’m saving tons of money and am right on schedule and doing fine at this point. At this point, in fact, there’s not a whole lot to do.
I’ve been saying that it doesn’t quite seem real, that I’m going, that I’m going in four months now, that soon I’ll be going in three then two then one. I thought that as the days pass it would become more solid, that when I bought the ticket I’d get it in a different way, that I’d really know I was going. How do I explain, then, that as it gets closer it gets more elusive; that every time I tell someone “I’m moving to New Zealand for a year!” it feels like a weird joke I’m playing, like something that can’t possibly be true; that when I look at my summer clothes I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I will wear them only a short time this year before packing them away and getting out my sweaters again for the antipodal autumn? I just fold my laundry and look over at my pack in the corner of my newly cleaned room and try without success to see the near future, to see myself somewhere I can’t imagine yet.