Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At Least I'm Saving Money On Batteries

I've been homeless since early February. That's when The Salvation Army came to collect my possessions. Somewhere right now a poor person is using my old television that was as deep as it was wide. A few days later I set off for two weeks of work-related travel, returning to Philly for 36 hours before driving south to temporarily move in with Leslie. I have been with her ever since. My two-bedroom apartment won't be ready until mid-April and that doesn't take into account the fact I own no furniture. All of this has turned my routine on its head.

In my past life, I went to the gym every Saturday and Sunday morning in addition to twice during the week. One visit was spent having my ass kicked by my trainer, a man who routinely asked me to marry him as sweat dripped off the tip of my nose. Monday nights I volunteered with my cousin. At least two other evenings were spent having drinks and dinner with friends. Since moving to Atlanta, the only constant is awaking in the morning utterly fatigued.

"I think I should get my hair cut," I said to Leslie as we finished lunch, a meal spent brainstorming all of her contacts that I can potentially exploit. "And I need to mail my condo fee, contact Audi about buying-out Gretel, and drop a script for my birth control at CVS, not that I'm doing anything that could remotely result in a pregnancy."

"I'll call my guy and make you an appointment."

A few days later, Leslie left for a golf weekend in Alabama with former coworkers. Saturday morning, Anders headed to a friend's house for a slumber party. This left me, Olivia and my brother in-law in a house that, with all five of us present, was starting to feel small. I dropped Gretel at the Audi dealership for unexpected service (quelle surprise). I cheered on Olivia and the rest of the Pink Flamingo soccer team at a nearby field. That night, after enjoying burgers outside at a nearby pub with Olivia and my brother in-law, I retreated to my room.

In the distance evening crickets chirped. The smell of spring blossoming on the trees seeped through the curtains. I washed up, slipped out of my clothes and fumbled around in the closet for my toy. Now, I thought, now I can finally close my eyes and disappear. I can flip a switch, exhale and forget how crazy my life has been.

"Aunt Paige?" I heard from the bedroom.

"One second," I answered as I quickly shoved all evidence of an adult life deep in the closet.

I walked out to the bedroom to find Olivia. There she was in her doggie pajamas and princess snuggie, the faux fur wrists yellowed and nappy from wear.

"Which side of the bed do you want?"

Friday, March 02, 2012

No Place Like Home

For the first time in my life, I don't have a place to call home. There is no bed upon which to collapse. There is no glass into which I can poor some much needed wine. A hollow echo exaggerates every sound, my soft cough booming off the walls. And it's a weird thing to realize.

After spending two straight weeks traveling for work, I finally made my way back to Philadelphia. One bus, two flights and one train later, I curled my fingers around the handle of my suitcase and walked up the driveway leading to my condo complex. A misty rain coated my face. The rubber grip of my luggage tugged against my palm. As I fumbled for my keys, I couldn't help but feel like a stranger in my own home.

My condo lacks furniture but there are still plenty of tasks to tend to. Extra paint cans need to be moved to the storage unit in the basement. Art too big to fit in my car needs to be relocated to my parents' house. Piles of paper are strewn across the living room floor, most of which I'm ready to just toss. After all, the most important items - my passport, Gretel's spare key, and receipts - have already been stashed in a pumpkin-orange, Tod's shoebox.

Tomorrow morning, I will run up the street to get my hair colored one last time. I will figure out what to do with my mountain bike and golf clubs. At some point, I will back into a corner, look around my condo and feel a sense of emptiness. Then, Sunday, I will pack up my car and hit the road. My goal is to make it to Atlanta in one day.

"The kids keep asking if you're moving in this weekend," Leslie said when I spoke with her the other day.

I don't have a home of my own in Atlanta either. Though I put money down on an apartment, I am now thinking I might be better off waiting for a larger unit. In the meantime, I will stay with Leslie. And that was always my plan. But, though I comfortably eat food from her fridge and pee with the bathroom door open so we don't have to stop talking, her house still doesn't feel like home.

The next few weeks will continue to be defined by transition. Though I'm a month into my new job, my team doesn't formally launch until early April. There is still more training to complete, training that will include another week in Chicago and a few days in Miami. We don't even have promotional paperwork to distribute because the current set is still being reviewed by legal. Everything in my life right now is in flux. It's exciting and unsettling all at the same time. And all I want to do is curl up on a sofa, tuck my legs under a warm blanket and enjoy the comforts of home.