Home and Hindsight

Exactly one year has passed since we packed up the 15 foot U-Haul that Mike valiantly parked against the curb on Union Avenue outside of our Williamsburg apartment building.

The panic and uncertainty of the looming pandemic shook up the timeline of our move by a week. Fueled by a wild sense of urgency to escape the city and move into our very newly purchased home in New Jersey, we did not know if the growing tidal wave of NYC Covid-19 closures would come crashing down on the shores of Staten Island, barring our escape route if we waited any longer.

Though I had pared down my belongings over the course of the years, the sight of the hastily packed boxes and bags that consumed most of the living room and kitchen still presented a daunting challenge for our time frame.

Exactly one year has passed since adrenaline toughened our muscles and surged through our blood as we carefully and repetitively climbed down the wooden stairs of our apartment building, our arms full of boxes, bags, furniture, suitcases, laundry bags, and loose items – and then up again in what seemed like a Sisyphean effort.

We poured three hours of energy into a grueling operation to amputate the legs of our couch so it would fit through the doorway, the heads of the long screws that connected them to the wooden sofa frame stripped to ragged circles. We earned the rush of victory we experienced when they finally relented only to be gut-punched with a crushing sense of disbelief when faced with the realization that, at almost an inch too wide, the damn thing would not fit through the doorway.

Armed with determination, an incomprehensive tilt, the thought that the furniture movers had somehow gotten it into the apartment, and some aggressive shoves and pulls, we were finally able to get it fully through our doorway and down the steps to the first floor landing, sure to take some of the burgundy paint from the door frame with it, a battle wound tattooed into the turquoise chenille.

Once the U-Haul was mostly packed up, aside from our bed and the items we planned to put in Mike’s mom’s Honda in the morning, we parked the truck under the BQE for the remainder of the night and headed back up to our nearly empty apartment.

Beyond exhausted, covered in sweat, and starting to feel the aches, blisters, and bruises of persistent heavy lifting and screwdriver twisting, we ate plastic spoonfuls of peanut butter straight out of the jar for dinner and drank cups of tap water and Coca Cola. We leaned on the kitchen peninsula for the last time and sat on the cool, brick-colored, tile floor. Dirty and drained, we slept in our nearly empty, sweltering room for one final night, lulled to sleep by the gentle clang of steam pipes and the muted city sounds of early pandemic Brooklyn.

A year later, I sit on the couch with Mike, getting sleepy as I type this post, feeling very much at home in the place where we have spent at least part of every single day for the past year. I am considering grabbing a spoonful of peanut butter from the kitchen before I go to bed and am thankful that there is no U-Haul parked outside hungry to be packed full of all of our belongings.