Thursday, June 26, 2008

Safe and sound

Photo: View overlooking 9th Avenue towards the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais.

Greetings from Dundee, Oregon. We made it safe and sound. Our astonishing amount of stuff made it here intact, Our cats are adjusting to the new house pretty well. They love watching the birds, but the ceiling fans scare them to death. They think this large, moving object is about to descend from above and attack them. They'll just have to figure it out, I guess.

Our last few days in San Francisco were pretty hectic. With the help of our magnificent friends, we got all of the contents of our 1615 square foot house packed into many, many boxes. Everything was labeled and stacked in the living room and garage. Our evenings were spent with family and friends, sharing final meals and a few drinks.

Then the movers showed up. They arrived at 9:00am on Tuesday, June 3rd. The big-rig driver parked along side of our neighbors house. He then came in and assessed the load. He was impressed with our mountain of boxes that filled half of our garage. We laughed and told him to look at all of the stuff in the living room. He moved inside, going from room to room, noting what had to go and double checking with us as to what was staying (appliances, travel clothes, etc.) We already designated a "safety zone," a place where we stashed the stuff we didn't want to go on to the truck. And then they got down to business.

Photo: our house on 9th Ave in San Francisco. It's for sale!

The crew of many men began grabbing hand trucks and a parade of large and small cardboard boxes began to migrate from our house to the semi-trailer on Moraga Street. These guys were blazingly fast. The garage was empty in about an hour. I was impressed. Our truck driver coordinated the crew and everyone kept moving. Lunch came and went. The upstairs living room began to be cleared out. It was like watching a time lapse movie of a once strong flower bloom, wither, die, decompose and vanish. In a couple of days all of this stuff would reemerge 650 miles to the north at our new home.

And shortly after 5:00pm, they were done. Our house was empty except for a few items and our cats. We said farewell to the driver and the truck and went back into the house. Our feet echoed on the hardwood floors. Cat fur rolled across the empty living room like a tumbleweed. The vacuum was on the truck. Oh well. We borrowed an inflatable mattress from my mom. This was our only furniture left in the house. We pumped it up and went out to dinner. We were meeting friends at Toronado, a favorite watering hole in the Lower Haight. We figured it was a Tuesday night, so it shouldn't be too crowded. Wrong! It was packed. And we made it more crowded with our friends. We managed to take over the back room so socializing was easier. It was a nice send off. Jim and I were really touched. A lot of folks showed up. I wish there was some way to take all of our friends with us. I miss them already.

Photo: Jim finds a place to sit. I miss this kitchen.

We went home and flopped on the air mattress. Hmm. It didn't seem as firm as it had been. I inflated it some more and we went to bed. I woke up a few hours later with my butt hitting the floor. It seems Mom's mattress had a a leak! In my haze, I managed to pump the bed up again and we went back to sleep. We awoke in the morning with a semi-inflated bed and bitter words for my mother. "Oh. It did that once before," she informed me. "It seemed to fix itself." Well, it seemed to be unfixed again. We also came to the realization that the only place to sit was on the stairs--we didn't have a chair. Not good. I can stand for hours, but somehow standing in an empty house just didn't cut it.

Instead of spending our last night in California at our own, empty house, we relocated to my mom's house, across the Golden Gate Bridge. We returned her air mattress.

Our last supper? Ebisu, our favorite sushi bar. One of the best sushi places in SF, just happens to be walking distance from our (soon to be former) house. We got seats in front of Suzuki, the patriarch of the sushi bar. Steve the owner came up and asked, "So is this it? Your last supper?" Yes, our last trip to Ebisu for a while. Steve sent over a bottle of sparkling sake, Japanese champagne, he explained. The meal was wonderful, but neither Jim nor I had much of an appetite. Too much on our minds.

We walked back up 9th Avenue, and into our empty home. Time to go. After a bit of wrangling, we got our cats into their travel carriers and into the car. Then we packed the rest of our gear. Or we tried. The cats took up a lot of room. So did our stuff. I couldn't get it all into our Subaru. I'm a pretty good packer, being a visual sort of person, but I couldn't make it work. I knew we had too much to carry. We had to leave a few things behind, to be retrieved later. At last, at 10:30pm, we were saying goodbye to our house. On Friday, the painters were coming, the handyman was coming and the place was getting ready to go on the market. Wow.

The drive to my mom's house was surreal. I just could not begin to fathom that I was leaving this place for good. I watched the familiar landmarks whirl past my window. Goodbye, Roxie Market; so long, N Judah streetcar; be safe, homeless guy who sits in front of Gordo's Taqueria. I quietly wept while Jim navigated the streets of San Francisco, taking us across the Golden Gate Bridge, past the many places that I explored in my youth and up to my mom's house, the house where I grew up.

Photo: Jim and I getting ready to hit the road.

Mom and Ian were asleep. We off-loaded the kitties into the downstairs bathroom, and off-loaded ourselves into my sister's old bedroom. Sleep came easily that night.

Our early start didn't turn out to be that early on Thursday.

Coming up next: The trip north, unpacking, and unpacking some more, and taking the first steps towards starting a cheese business. That's why we moved!