Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bitchy Me

This past Saturday afternoon, I finished my memoir writing course at the University of Victoria, and Chris picked me up around four thirty. Unbeknownst to me, he had spent a large part of the day working in the garage to get the contents ready for our upcoming move.

Let me describe our garage. It's actually a two-car garage. Since we have only one car, half of the garage can be used for other things, which is exactly what we've done--putting things there that have no place (for now) anywhere else in the house. In other words, with no place for it anywhere else, let's stuff it in the garage, where we can deal with it later.

Not a good philosophy because, frankly, as we all know, later never comes. Oh, Chris has dealt with some of it in the past, but, really, it's a big, stinking mess. And we intended on cleaning it out and better organizing it last summer, including installing a worktable and storage cabinets, when we found out about Chris's boss's intention of consolidating the Victoria office with the Vancouver one. At that point, why bother putting the money or the time and effort into getting it all organized if we're just going to move, right? (not realizing we might have helped out ourselves in the long run now that we're forced to deal with it in preparation for a move).

Fast forward to last Saturday. Chris and I pull up to the house in the car, Chris opens the garage door, and, despite his best efforts to tackle the challenge of the garage, it was a holy mess. There were piles of things everywhere. Chris had tried to organize similar items (like all electrical supplies in one box, all packing materials in one box, all tools in one box), but all I saw was a holy mess. And, with several hours before dinner, I knew Chris was looking for some help in dealing with the mess we had, after all, jointly created. Even though I had jokingly delegated the garage mess to Chris to deal with before the move, how could I leave it all in his hands and go watch TV or read upstairs? It wouldn't look very good.

So, there I was, standing in the middle of the garage, not sure I wanted to cry or scream or sit on the cold cement floor and pull all my hair out. I felt so overwhelmed by everything all around me, seemingly in complete disarray, that I nearly lost it. Could a nervous breakdown get me out of having to help with the mess in the garage, let alone the entire rest of the move?

The bottom line is, I was unprepared for what I saw and for having to help. I looked at everything all around me and didn't know what to say or where to start. I was dumbfounded.

Chris is so sweet. He was happily dealing with the item in front of him, oblivious to the whole, while I had taken in the enormous confusion and overwhelming room full of stuff, and I was unable to cope. As he kept busy, I stood there, wondering what to do first, how to organize everything, how to get through this experience. I'm sure he wondered why I was just standing there, doing nothing, but I had to take it all in so I could get a game plan in my head.

I wasn't quiet about my confusion or distress either. While I stood there, like a zombie, my mouth worked perfectly well, spewing off all manner of sarcasm and insults and barbs about the situation I found myself in, and essentially aiming straight for Chris, who had initiated the mess and now expected me to help him deal with it. I felt ambushed, and I didn't appreciate spending the rest of my Saturday afternoon working on it when I was unprepared for this challenge.

Chris and I had our disagreements. First, after I'd figured out what to do, I tried to convince Chris of my system for getting the job done. Touch everything as few times as possible. Deal with each item in a definitive way. Put all packed boxes in one location, labeling them properly (as to what's in them and where they're intended to go at the new house), so we don't have to come back to them later. What's the point of doing only half the job?

And Chris, dear and sweet as he is, is just like the Kositsin side of the family--from what I've heard. There isn't much they like to throw out. We haven't used the damn thing for the past six years--in fact, we'd even gratefully forgotten we had it--but now that we opened a box and rediscovered it, we have to keep it because, you never know, we might need to use it someday.

I don't subscribe to this nonsense at all. I'm from the school that says, if you haven't used it in six months or more, find another home for it or throw it out. But Chris says, "Why spend good money on a new one when we have a perfectly good one right here?" To which I roll my eyes and try to ignore him, or I may end up doing something I'll regret (like grabbing the damn thing and hitting him over the head with it).

Our biggest disagreement (and Chris and I rarely disagree about anything) was about an old banker's box filled with ancient Christmas junk. This box contained, among other things, old spools of silver tinsel (which I'll never allow on my tree, although Chris loves it); old Christmas ribbon for wrapping gifts that must have originally cost Chris two or three dollars for rolls in nearly every color imaginable; old, junky, half torn apart silver garland for the tree (again, which I'll never allow on my tree); and, best of all, old bows to place on wrapped gifts, which have been packed in this box for so long, they are squashed and misshapen and need to be reconstituted before they might even begin to look decent enough to place on a Christmas gift. It's over the contents of this damn box that Chris and I went at each other, and during which I was my bitchiest best.

In the end, I didn't win. As adamant as I was that that box, and all the contents in it, were going to hit the garage can, Chris insisted on keeping it. He got as impatient and as angry with me about this box and its contents than he ever has about anything in the seventeen years we've been together. I can usually reason with him about nearly everything else, small and large, but not about this box. He still thinks he might need to use its contents on an upcoming Christmas gift (even though we don't buy Christmas gifts for adults in our families--haven't for years). Never mind that he could spend a few dollars and buy something really nice to wrap a gift with, if he needed to.

And he still thinks he's going to put that old tinsel and stringy garland on our live Christmas tree at the new house. Over my dead body, which, I guess, could happen, if I don't leave him alone about this.

Yesterday, I took some boxes of packed books downstairs to put with the rest of our prepared boxes. And, guess what I discovered? The old box of Christmas supplies. I opened the lid, looked at the pathetic array of disheveled contents, and swore to them that they were this close to hitting the nearby garage can.

Then I let the lid fall closed and moved on. I can't deal with that box now, knowing that Chris has made such an issue of it, and knowing how much it would hurt him if I did anything to it behind his back. As angry as that box and its contents make me, I can't risk hurting Chris over something that important to him. Sometimes, you just have to give in. It's better that way.

In the meantime, I'm sure he'll come around, as he does on most things, and realize I'm right about letting go of this box that's travelled with us to nearly every place we've lived together as a couple.

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