There are days that I think being single forever would be totally fine. Most of the time, I date solely to break up the monotony of eating chicken and kale every night for dinner. But if I really think about it… there are many advantages to being single. No one’s snoring keeps me awake at night, no one argues with me about whether to buy whole or skim milk, and I can keep my apartment at a balmy 80 degrees year round and no one will complain about their “overactive sweat glands.” It seems better and better the more I think about it.
But then I go to California for the weekend to help my mother move (she moved from one apartment to another in the same complex). And I realize that men have a very important role in women’s lives.
See… I grew up with a single mom. And when my parents separated in 1988 (I don’t know the exact date… I was like six years old), they were actually one of the first couples among their friends to do so. The thought of divorce being an anomaly in this day and age seems rather archaic, but my mom actually lost several sets of friends because they were so judgmental about my parents divorce. Judgmental bastards.
If you were to ask my mom, she would tell you that divorce is awful. And it is… for a million reasons. But she did it for our benefit… mainly because she and my dad had such varying views on child rearing (hers was little more free spirited and supportive… and my dad’s was a bit more like the third reich). I think my sister and I would have both ended up raging drug addicts if they had remained married.
And while I was growing up, I am sure that my mother had many days where it seemed impossible for a woman who didn’t finish college in her youth… to finish her degree at 40 years old, go back to work, raise two young girls, and remain sane. But my mom did it fearlessly. My sister and I owe most of our life successes to our mother, who showed us that hard work, determination, and a positive attitude will get you anywhere you want to go. She truly is the best mom anyone could ask for.. and I hope that one day I will do something amazing to make her proud (But right now she is just going to have to settle for slightly insane blog writer daughter who usually remembers to pay all of her bills on time).
But growing up largely with one parent does have its downsides; namely, you don’t learn what it looks like for couples to argue about things (this was a rude awakening in my first relationships… I didn’t actually realize that people argue about stuff). My mom was the queen of her house… so I never watched anyone argue about what sofa to buy, how many sets of dishes are too many (my mom literally had 10 before her first move), or why painting a bathroom a color called “Nairobi Dusk” (it was a dark purple) is a ridiculous idea (you can in fact NEVER paint over that color).
I am getting to the point I swear. You know how there are “cat ladies” and very few “cat gentleman” (that doesn’t even sound right)? It is because most men put the kibosh on excess. Have you ever heard a straight man say “Oh sweetheart, we definitely need a different set of dishes for Thanksgiving this year… we don’t want our guests to get bored of the table decor!” Yeah… not so much. Unless your mom is married to one of the dudes from Queer Eye.
Men are ACTUALLY in women’s lives so that they don’t become hoarders.
Keep in mind, my mom is not exactly a hoarder. She doesn’t own newspapers from the 1990’s that take up an entire room, and she actually has no cats. But she does own 300 samples of skincare products, 42 paintings, soup tureens for every season/holiday, and a dining room table that is roughly the size of China. And I went to California this past weekend to figure out how to fit it all into a two bedroom apartment. If I had to make a comparison, it was like trying to fit a cow into a sock.
This weekend was actually our third attempt at downsizing my mother’s belongings. The first and most momentous attempt happened in 2007, when we moved her from a 3500 square foot house to a 2000 square foot house in Colorado. So this weekend of downsize # 3 in California was not my first rodeo. These are the things I learned the first time that turned out to be helpful the second time around:
1. My mother will stop packing approximately 2 days before the move. But she will have only started packing 5 days before the move. So the night before the move when you sit in the second 100 square foot unpacked storage room surrounded by packing paper, 17 pillows, 12 pumpkin shaped soup tureens and a shelving unit full of half burned candles, you will swear to never buy anything ever again. Like ever.
2.. You do actually need boxes to pack items. The first downsize in Colorado my sister and I avoided total crisis by pulling a hail mary out of our asses at 3:00 p.m. on moving day. After two full 40 foot moving trucks have left the house stuffed like a Mississippi Walmart cart at Christmas… and there is still tons of shit to pack, my sister and I rented a budget truck and bought 50 boxes from home depot and just started piling anything left in them. Allie and I swiped the counters “supermarket sweep style” without a care as to what was getting placed together. I am pretty sure I packed live plants with cleaning chemicals just to get it the fuck out of the house.
3. On this latest downsize… the boxes have somehow again been forgotten again. So I get inventive and come up with this:
Look… the hobo in lululemon yoga pants is moving to the apartment across the street using a bell hop cart and target bags. How cute.
4. Never ever let the people moving into your old house start moving in before you have moved out (pushy assholes). Because the cluster fuck that will occur will cause you to be too excited to leave the house after moving from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (especially after you see their ugly ass furniture… who has a fluffy, matte black leather sofa these days? Melrose Place called and wants their damn sofa back) My sister, myself, and Ralph (being the saint that he is) practically ran out of the house when all the of stuff was packed up. We sped away with unparalleled joy… or an odd mixture of exhaustion and euphoria… only to realize about two blocks away that I had left my dog in the backyard.
Hence the title. Please don’t tell the ASPCA.
5. For some strange reason, my sister and I will automatically assume genetically predetermined roles for the move:
I will become the packing Nazi. I am vital to the day of the move because I get shit done… but don’t plan on taking a break to eat because I probably won’t let you if there is still stuff left to pack. I literally said to Ralph and Allie “Why have you stopped moving? Do you need a job? Are you eating Taco Bell? THERE IS NO TIME FOR TACOS!!!!!”
It can get a little ugly.
My sister will become the unpacking Nazi. My sister thinks that clutter will actually cause the end of the world. Over nuclear war. So when my mom isn’t looking Allison is throwing away expired food and beauty products in black plastic trash bags that are hidden on the side of the house. If you hope to save anything in a move, put it in a safe place so Allie won’t find it. She is like the TSA of expired shit. A clutter drug sniffing dog.
And unfortunately, this move didn’t turn out to be that different. We moved from about 9:30 a.m. to about 6:00 p.m.
So at 6:00 p.m. when my mom and I were in the elevator with the Clampett style hobo moving cart, the only other lady in the elevator gave us a look of sarcasm/pity and made this comment:
“I hate moving, it’s when you lose all of your friends.” Which is kind of funny… and slightly true.
But I wanted to tell her that there is some universal law in life, that if you came out of someone’s vagina, you can’t say no to that vagina when it asks you to help it move.
And that is the truth. My Mom reads my blog and is probably feeling a not entirely unexpected mix of thankful (for the nice comments) and extremely pissed off (for outing her moving debacles) right now. But here is the truth Mom… I will help you (and all of your belongings) move anytime you need.
Just call and remind me to grab my dog before I leave.