Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It’s kinda like having a baby…

Nine months after leaving Cape Town, I will be moving into my own home again. Not the same house, sadly, as the Evil Employer has not transferred us back home, but into a house Hubby and I own rather than this pit of a rental owned by a landlord who may well be related to EE, given his propensity for ignoring the pain of his victims in favour of his own self-serving agenda.

The whole process has taken more than nine months, of course, but even having a baby sometimes takes a while longer than that if you factor in the time it takes to conceive. We learned in mid-November that we had to move, it took two months of effort to get everything rolling and now, nine months later, it is about to come to a close. And this last nine months of living in a rental house at the mercy of someone who literally does not care about our well-being as long as he gets what he needs is uncomfortably akin to gestation.

Yesterday we got confirmation from the moving company that our move is booked, in twenty short days they will begin packing up our belongings, and shortly thereafter, we will be delivered. It is a bit like those last few weeks of pregnancy when you begin packing your hospital bag, make weekly instead of monthly trips to the doctor, and start making lists of the last-minute things you must do. And, since my birth experiences were all Caesarean deliveries, the opportunity to plan and coordinate things for the upcoming event feels familiar, too.

Pregnancy, for those of you who have not had the questionable pleasure, involves a lot of discomfort, unexpected experiences, and an endlessly growing sense of wanting to get it over with. Things happen that you want to have un-happen, like stretch marks on your stomach and invisible (but unbelievably swollen) feet. And backaches. And nothing fits, including your shoes and underwear. As time crawls on, you become more and more focussed on that delivery date, both in anticipation of the new leaf your life is overturning and a desire to be done with the temporary state that has taken over your life. Living in a rented house is a lot like being pregnant…lots of things happen over which you have no control and which you wish would un-happen, from being ignored by the landlord while the hot water heater overflows to being ignored by the landlord while the house is invaded by hordes of biting insects that find your flesh a particularly delectable variety, to being subjected to inconveniences large and small over which you have no control nor the right to change simply because you are not in control. Nine months of living like this is enough to make even an ordinarily laid-back person anxiously anticipate that magical day of deliverance…moving day.

Delivery is tough…preparation for it is no picnic, either. Pregnant women go to classes, re-learn how to breathe, and swallow tons of bullsh!t about how it won’t hurt if you will just follow these instructions. They spend hours practicing, weeks preparing…how is it so different from the weeks of packing and labelling and lugging and dragging and stacking and all the grunt work that goes into getting ready to move? Already my garage is full of boxes…literally hundreds of them…and the cupboards, closets, dressers, armoires, nooks and crannies of the house have not yet been fully emptied. And I’ve swallowed my share of bull these last few weeks, from movers so eager to get the work…actually, our money…that they would say anything just to get the nod. Painless, they promise, we’ll empty your overstuffed four bedroom house in three hours with a crew of two and a donkey cart…but it will cost you double if you want us to keep your stuff on the cart overnight…

In the end, however, if luck is even a little bit on your side, you come away relieved the ordeal is over and smugly proud of your prize. For me it will be a house that is big enough, with a garden safe for my little dogs, and the power to call an exterminator, dig a hole, hang a picture, paint a wall, screen a window, park where I want…even to move walls and change the tiles and fixtures if I am not thrilled with the ones that are already there. Just as a new mum can buy tons of cute clothes and blankets and booties and bibs and change her new arrival’s appearance as often as she likes, so I will be empowered to paint a wall pink or take up an ugly carpet or redress the landscaping. I need please only myself and my husband.

Like most people, I hate to move. I hate the disruption, the inability to use things I want because they are packed up in preparation for the move, the inability to find things I want because nobody knows where they are after the move. I hate the micro-coordination necessary and, in this case, the nine months of living in temporary quarters owned by someone whose only focus is to get his rent on time and screw everything else. But one thing this nine month journey has given me is an eager anticipation for something I would ordinarily dread: just as no one but a card-carrying masochist would ordinarily look forward to hours and hours of pain, no sane person looks forward to moving…unless that pain is the gateway to ending an experience that has grown lumberingly burdensome and unless the agony of the move is the first step out of the greater hell of living in inadequate quarters and into a more satisfactory place.

Oddly enough, most people on walking into our rented house, are positively impressed. It’s a pretty house on a well-maintained street full of pretty houses in a pricey neighbourhood in a good part of town. One would expect to be comfortable here, comfortable and secure. But nine months of intermittent water and power interruptions, insect attacks and rodent infestation, a fire in the field behind the house, security gate failures, obnoxious, noisy and unsupervised kids, and breakdowns of the house mechanicals (can’t light the gas fire, water leaks at the washing machine, broken hot water heater, doors and windows that stick so badly they can’t be used) have left me jaded, disgusted, and embarrassingly eager to move out.

And now I am counting down the days…

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