Expiration Date

I had a really good idea for our Fall Fundraiser for my Foundation. My board members liked it too and we got the place and date all booked. It was a huge undertaking involving hundreds of people. We had media coverage and lots of guests attending. And then, slowly, things went a little crazy. My house, sitting on the market for months, sold, closing and moving dates being set a few days before the event. The lives of my co-chairs for the event turned: one for the better (her 11 year old son got a National Tour and she only had a few weeks’ notice) and one for the worse (her father passed away.) As with all things in my life, I was in way, way over my head.

There was no time for panic in this chaotic world of mine. It was time for our Swiss Family Robinson-style family to pack up and move down the road to embark on a new life in a zip code five minutes away. However, life does not stop just because you can’t find your deodorant. You must use Febreeze or Glade under your armpits so that the new neighbors don’t know that you haven’t showered in several days. Drop a 40 pound metal griddle on your foot right before you need to drive your son 30 minutes downtown for a callback? No problem. You can easily have it examined in the theatre laying across a row of seats by a fellow parent. Yes, moving, working, and parenting go together like 9 year old girls and Uzis. It is just a very, very bad idea and something is bound to go horribly wrong.

But first, you must pack it all up. Cleaning out a kitchen when you are moving to a new home is like looking at a boulevard of broken dreams. Sadly, you look at the fancy Trader Joe’s frozen dinners that you were intending to make a few years ago, now covered in frost. One finds spices like marjoram or thyme that were purchased for a recipe that was never made because it was easier to order a pizza. There are water bottles missing tops and Tupperware missing bottoms. Your wedding china and crystal sit there all dressed up in their fancy jackets that they were in when you got them, wondering when anyone is going to take them out.

In fact, wandering around a home that you are packing up is like visiting a museum of missed opportunities. And for me, our home was like the hall of fame of chances that passed us by. The medicine cabinet was filled with prescriptions and Tylenol with signs that say “best by February 2010.” The hallway closet, packed with shoes that, at the time, I thought would eventually be comfortable, but never were. Purses shoved in the corner of a closet that had been cleaned out, except for the pennies covered in gum at the bottom. The purses, still sitting there, because I was “not done cleaning them out,” ranging in colors from light black to dark black.

There were expired coupons and gift cards we forgot to use, to places that had long since closed. Receipts were shoved into the back of a drawer for purchases made at Best Buy in 2011, for the broken DVD player that I could never return because I couldn’t find the receipt.

Broken umbrellas that I kept because it seemed silly to throw it away (someone will know how to fix it.) Art projects that I attempted to do with your child, but never finished because one of the two of us had a temper tantrum.

Socks of all shapes and sizes, but none that go together. A wide variety of clothing ranging from tiny lingerie to giant sweatpants to yoga pants that I wear to the grocery store because I don’t do yoga. College t-shirts, stained yellow with age, that I can’t seem to throw away because they connect me with my youth. Underwear for moments of happiness and for those moments that say “Can’t you see I need to be alone?”

Plastic containers for organizing things when I was really motivated to organize things but now only hold an old mascara and a pair of tweezers covered in baby powder. Appliances like bread makers and rice cookers that seemed like a good idea at the time. (See also, salad spinners and Nambe silver bowls.)

And then, on the day of an unseasonal monsoon filled with storms so intense my movers had to stop moving us because it was too dangerous, we get to move into our new home. Sure, the power went out at our old house, leaving us to move in the dark in 110 degrees with no air conditioning. And sure, it only took them double the amount of time to move us due to the severe weather costing us double the original price. But, eventually, we were in the new house and it had power. And that’s something right there

So, I pushed on and a few days later I pulled up to our Event. I had no idea what to expect and was down to two co-chairs. I also had really bad hair because I couldn’t find my shampoo. But then, magic started to happen. Friends appeared out of nowhere to help. The guests arrived and the Event flowed better than I could have dreamed. Everyone raved and we got two offers from several sponsors to hold the event for us for free next year. I’m not sure if it was someone helping orchestrate it from up above or whether it was just the power of a loving community surrounding me down here on Earth. Either way, despite all of the sleepless nights, stress, and sheer terror that it would all go wrong, everything worked out.

As I sit here in my new home, still surrounded by boxes, I am not sure if I like it here. There are problems that I can only explain by stating it’s possible I bought the Poltergeist house (I really hope Lauren doesn’t end up in the TV.) But, I have a spirit cleansing occurring this weekend involving the spreading of sage, and hopefully that will rid our house of the invisible bugs that are biting us all over our bodies, the force that dropped a 50 pound window valance onto Aidan, the overflowing toilets and the strange smell coming from the basement.

If I have learned anything this week, it’s that even when life seems completely overwhelming and out of control, someone will help you make it better. Whether it is a father passing away or the constant uncertainty of something new, there are spirits here on Earth and possibly some beyond, guiding us and helping us through. Friends, family, and the people who are there for you and support you, can see you through anything. The chaos and confusion will eventually end, and you will clearly remember the love and friendship that helped you get through.

These are the things that we will never get rid of, never throw away, no matter where we live. The love and support of your community will never expire.

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