I’ve been working on an archaeological dig the past couple weeks. It’s been no picnic; I’ve dug and dusted, classified, sorted and catalogued. It was hard, boring work. Archaeology, it turns out, isn’t always about Tyrannosaurus bones and long-legged, blonde assistants.
But at least I was unearthing familiar territory: my own previous life.
Let me explain. About two years ago I lost my wife, my job, my house and 37 percent of my self-respect. Everything I had accumulated in 40-plus years went into boxes, most of which were packed away in a musty spare room in my daughter’s basement in Detroit. And there they remained until recently.
I (finally) landed a new job with The Daily News in Greenville. This required a move from my little garden apartment in Detroit and when I packed, I took the boxes with me. My daughter was glad to see ’em go.
I was lucky enough to find a great rental; a cool little beach house overlooking Baldwin Lake, less than two miles from my new job. I took this as a sign that maybe the Fates don’t hate me after all despite extensive previous evidence to the contrary. The apartment is situated at the top of a very large hill, one which affords a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding area. Runners, hikers and bicyclists pass on a regular basis and the whole setup is very reminiscent of some sort of seaside vacation community. I fell immediately in love with the apartment and managed to convince the landlady I wasn’t a serial killer or escaped lunatic. (This was not as easy as it should have been.)
I started moving in the next day. That’s when the trouble started. I filled my son-in-law’s van with my many, many boxes of “stuff” and drove the three hours from Detroit to my new digs. It wasn’t until I’d hauled the third heavy box up the hill to my apartment that I began to realize there might be a problem.
I had 30 boxes. There are 50 steps going up that hill. Each box weighed approximately 30 pounds. Now, I’m no math genius (as will soon be made apparent), but according to my calculations (derived from a combination of two-digit addition and wild speculation, just like my checkbook) I would have to carry about 900 pounds up 50 stairs for a grand total of … um … a lot. Despite my lousy math skills I was quickly able to ascertain that gravity is not my friend.
Once the boxes — carried up all those stairs in what can only be described as the biggest thunderstorm of the year, so far — were unpacked, everything had to be put away. My last house had four bedrooms, an attic, a full basement and a storage shed. My new apartment boasts one bedroom, a living room better suited to a leprechaun than a 200-pound man and a kitchen.
Some things would have to go. Not the photos. Not even the ones of The Former Lovely Mrs. Taylor. Not the bundles of school papers the kids brought home from kindergarten 25 years ago. Not the ancient cassette tapes of the god-awful rock band I played in back in high school. All those things, along with my collection of ceramic ducks collected during a dozen vacations up north, my notes for the novel that will be written “any day now,” my dollar store reading glasses in a prescription that was strong enough as recently as 10 years ago … all these things are archaeological treasures.
I could never, never part with any of these. And so my new apartment is now a very crowded museum.
Admission is only a buck. I’m hoping you’ll all stop by. I’m going to need that money to rent a place to live.
Mike Taylor’s recent book, “Looking at the Pint Half Full,” is available in both paperback and eBook versions at mtrealitycheck.blogspot.com or on amazon.com. Email Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.