First of all, I'm never moving. The last time I moved was so long ago that dismantling the computer and setting it up again, scouring the old house for the original manufacturers' boxes (brashly recycled 17 months ago) and remembering to remove all disks from drives were not issues. The most fragile thing we had to pack was our daughter, who was only 3 months old at the time. Still, she was pretty easy. We didn't have to label her cords or copy her files or hunt all over creation for Styrofoam inserts so she wouldn't slide around in transit and possibly damage her motherboard.
First of all, I'm never moving. The last time I moved was so long ago that dismantling the computer and setting it up again, scouring the old house for the original manufacturers’ boxes (brashly recycled 17 months ago) and remembering to remove all disks from drives were not issues. The most fragile thing we had to pack was our daughter, who was only 3 months old at the time. Still, she was pretty easy. We didn't have to label her cords or copy her files or hunt all over creation for Styrofoam inserts so she wouldn't slide around in transit and possibly damage her motherboard.
Still, I remember how awful it was. Moving is like the opposite of childbirth. In spite of dire stories about childbirth — it's painful, it's messy, the prep makes you want to forget the whole thing — the actual experience never was as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Moving, on the other hand, was worse. Whereas a person pictures unpacking a few boxes and arranging the living room furniture in a cute way, the reality is a house full of boxes, boxes in every room, and in the boxes are not the forks and spoons you need to eat the carry-out Chinese food you bought for supper or the sheets and blankets you need to put on the mattresses when you find them. In the boxes are three kinds of dog treats, or a tub of random crayons that were too good to throw away 23 years ago when the kids stopped coloring, or a nice selection of napkin rings or a heaping carton of plastic food containers without lids.
The forks and spoons are there somewhere, of course, as are the sheets and blankets and the mattresses and, if it comes to that, the dog. The trick, as I recall, is to keep backing up until you find a place to get a toehold. Say you want to arrange the bathroom, but the bathroom is full of clothing cartons. You'll arrange the closet, then, you think. But the closet is blocked by the contents of the dining room sideboard, or what passes for one. Very well, you'll tackle the sideboard. But the dining room is full of the kitchen cupboard contents. And so on, which is why, when neighbors come by, they find you arranging half-empty paint cans on a shelf in a garage. Let them think you're nuts, if it makes sense to you.
But I didn't come here to talk about moving. As I said, I'm not moving now, and God willing will never move, at least not until I'm too feeble to take on the job myself. I'm willing to go if all I have to do is sit there and nod my head occasionally. Otherwise, forget it.
I brought up the subject to explain my interest in houses. I like to look at houses. Not in person — I rarely go to house and garden tours, in part because I know I wouldn't be allowed to, say, wander around upstairs on my own, which is what I'd want to do. No, I'm drawn to those pictures of Upper East Side apartments you see in the back of the New York Times Magazine. I study the pictures of the high-end houses in the back of city magazines. I positively eat up stories about home renovations — previously dank basements that were turned into home theaters, for instance, even though I can't imagine wanting a home theater enough to actually turn my basement into one. Kitchen makeovers, bathroom makeovers, whole, entire house makeovers — I page through these with the eagerness of an obsessed collector, about to make an acquisition.
You probably think that the house I do have is piled with home remodeling magazines, but in fact I subscribe to no such publications. We do get Columbus Monthly, though, and its frequent home renovation stories are among my favorites.
“Let me write these,” I think while reading about attics turned into cozy hideaways and kitchens with wood-burning fireplaces. Sometimes I'm practically faint with vicarious enjoyment.
Another thing you probably think is that my house is carefully decorated, not with priceless antiques — I have some antiques but they're the kind that have been used every day of their lives, poor things, and they'll never see the inside of Sotheby's — but with cleverness. To that assumption I say “Nah.” Oh, I toss around a decoration here and there — a person can't live in a town with multiple antique malls without taking something away now and again — but mostly I just look.
Yes, I just look. When it comes to houses and decorating and knowing a great room from a Great Room, I'm a voyeur. I'm not ashamed to admit it, either. We all have our vices. Some people gamble, some people shop. I look at Exclusive Homes and weigh mahogany cabs and best appls against dbl bridal stairs and two scr porches. (Two!)
Still, I'm never moving. For one thing, I remember how awful moving is, and anyway, I like my 3 BR rural home nestled in a farm field just fine. Sure it nds wrk. Don't we all?
Email Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.