The feel of indoor camping

Everything we own is packed and moved out of one house and into the garage of another. I have no idea where anything is and am living out of cardboard boxes and plastic wardrobe bins. We’re moving.

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The transition has taken on the feel of indoor camping. We have no furniture or decorations and it smells like dust. The only items left are what we’ve deemed absolutely essential for our survival this week: our bed, TV and wine fridge.

A few dishes are still scattered in the kitchen, lonely soldiers abandoned among paint cans and rags, and a lone camping chair sits in the living room. It’s not uncomfortable, per se, but after watching the VMAs sitting on a dog bed last night, I’m ready to have a couch again.

It’s strange how little we actually need, compared with what we have. The nice-to-have things verses the need-to-have ones. Tonight I made spaghetti sauce using a plastic knife to cut veggies and a measuring cup as a ladle. I used leftover red pepper packets from a pizza delivery as seasoning and ate out of a casserole dish. My boxes of expensive culinary tools were nowhere to be found, yet the end result was the same as it would’ve been with my garlic press and colander.

It’s refreshing to feel minimalistic for a while. To define how I feel based off of things that aren’t really things. I don’t want to do this forever, but today, I’m content. There was a wild storm earlier and it was surprisingly fulfilling to sit on the floor and listen to the rain with my crazy dogs. I observed a lot more than I would have taken the time to notice under typical circumstances.

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I’m sad to leave the home we’ve shared for more than four years. We moved in as boyfriend and girlfriend and will leave as husband and wife. We’ve enjoyed countless meals here, shared lots of celebrations and recovered from defeats. We’ve experienced an appendectomy, new puppies and various jobs living here, stretching our lives into greater adventures than we ever imagined.

We grew up here, as a couple and as individuals, and I’ll never, ever, forget what it felt like to own my first home.

There have been wonderful parties here, and heated arguments, too. Early mornings and late evenings, long days and quiet afternoons. We experienced a leaky roof, rats and fallen trees. I learned what an escrow account is and how property taxes impact a mortgage payment. Most of all, I learned that a house and home are two very separate things, that combine under the most fortunate of circumstances.

It feels bittersweet to move on. Exciting and scary and hard to believe. I’m so thankful for this house and the memories we’ve built here, and although it sounds silly and dramatic, a part of my heart will always be here. A lot has happened within these walls.

At the end of the day, sitting on the floor once again, I finally feel ready to move on. It’s time to start the next chapter.

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My week, in fragments.

1. We closed on a new house. Now, onto moving.
2. I was diagnosed with ulnar nerve entrapment, an ailment that sounds more like a spy plane and explains why my right ring finger and pinky have been numb for several years.
3. Husband started a new job! Hooray!
4. We got a new hot water heater, just in time to avoid a flood in our [old] house.
5. I launched an epic battle with ADT and, for the first time in my esteemed customer-service-fighting career, I pretty much lost. I no longer have a home security system and am probably on a watch list for alarm providers.
6. I was forced to go to Home Depot again. AGAIN. The only saving grace was when an elderly Scottish employee called me ‘lovey.’
7. I went dumpster diving for moving boxes in the middle of the day, with alarmingly little shame.
8. I enjoyed a much-needed lunch with a dear friend where we determined you can be sister wives without sharing a husband.
9. I gave food and water to a homeless man.
10. I laughed, I cried, and I fell asleep on the floor, twice.

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The universe at its best.

I believe in karma. That you get back what you give to the world, in goodness and in energy. Sometimes, it’s easy to see this happening and find connections between events; other days it’s challenging to see even a remote link between actions and circumstances.

Nevertheless, I think that consistently putting out as much good as you can helps positivity return when you need it most. Maybe in small doses, and maybe after a long wait, but without fail.

I don’t think karma is magic, however; there’s nothing official to it and no guarantees. Buying a stranger’s Starbucks doesn’t entitle me to lottery winnings and letting someone pass me in traffic doesn’t equate to a bonus at work.

Despite the somewhat inconsistent return on investment, I still believe in this wholeheartedly. It’s like that scene in Harry Potter…until Harry fully believes in Hogwart’s and wizardry, he can’t miraculously fly into the brick wall in the train station. Or something like that.

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I can’t fly into brick walls or cast spells, but last week I randomly bought someone’s breakfast in the cafeteria at work. Then two days later, a stranger bought my dinner.

A few days after that, I passed a homeless man en route to Home Depot. I didn’t have any cash so I bought him a bottle of water when I left the store. He was gone when I drove back but I kept the water bottle in case I passed anyone else who looked thirsty. It’s approximately one million degrees in Phoenix during August so I have to think water’s as valuable as money.

Today, almost a week later, I passed another homeless man who was clearly tired and needed help. I parked and approached him, asking if there was anything I could do. I gave him the water bottle and went into the closest coffee shop to get him a muffin. The girl behind the counter saw that I was getting it for him and didn’t charge me, and he seemed mostly content with my offerings, despite also asking for a beer and a ham sandwich.

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A few hours later, I made yet another trip to Home Depot (we’re moving…it’s a sinkhole for savings accounts). Afterward, I went back to the same coffee shop for lunch. As I paid for my food, I was offered a free drink out of nowhere. Thank you Luci’s.

These are, perhaps, random coincidences and fortunate twists of fate. I like to believe there’s a greater connection though, and that at times, the universe aligns perfectly.

why does ‘depot’ end in T?

It’s safe to say that Home Depot isn’t a place I feel particularly comfortable. Partially because I don’t know what 97 percent of the products for sale are used for, and also because it’s just so overwhelmingly gigantic. As a female venturing in solo, it’s easy to get lost, disoriented and perhaps panicked among strange sights and smells. Floor-to-ceiling displays of foreign objects can leave you feeling quite small.

What is a depot anyway? Weird word. Why’s it end with a T? It always makes me visualize an 1800s general store in the wild west where one would acquire grains and sugar rations out of wooden barrels and fabric by the bolt. I think I’d actually like it more if that’s what it was like.

Yesterday I made a depot run for a few items that I couldn’t name, but knew existed. Thus began an inarticulate guessing game with an unsuspecting employee.

Those pencil things that you can draw on wood with to fill splintered parts?

Spackle stuff for wood, you know, to fill in cracks?

A paintbrush. No, it’s a special kind. You use it on trim and it’s angled?

I made it out alive and only marginally flustered. My favorite moment was when a female stranger joined me in silenced horror in front of the paint brush display. “There’s just…so many…so many kinds. Why would one cost $25 and this one’s only two bucks?”

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These vegetables smell like farts.

So this one time, I was invited to a potluck, and I brought a vegetable tray from Target. You know, the kind you’ve seen at every single party since the dawn of time: carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and a trough of ranch in the middle.

As a potluck choice, this was lazy, uncreative and easy to acquire on a Friday afternoon. I felt bad about my cop out for about 15 seconds, then strolled boldly into Target, grabbed some veggie goodness and paid $11 for the simplicity of prepackaged produce.

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The weird thing was that the particular Target I was in smelled really bad. Super stinky. The smell was everywhere–following me–like a farting ghost, frankly. To the extent that I actually checked the bottom of my shoes for a misplaced dog turd, and texted a friend, “This Target smells like poop.” I shrugged it off though, thinking they just needed to apply some of the 800 types of air-freshener-aroma-diffusing-plug-in things they sell. That’d be a solid start.

So my friend joins me. And the two of us journeyed north to said potluck. This dear friend, of half a lifetime, declined to comment upon entering my car that IT TOO smelled like poop. Maybe she thought it was me? Dear lord. At any rate, we arrived and presented the pre-made tray with gusto.

It wasn’t until ALL the guests had arrived (who were mostly senior citizens) with their dishes (which all were homemade) that the host (my husband) brought out my tray.

And then. The smell.

Oh goodness the smell that enveloped the premises.

It took all of two minutes for us to realize that it was coming from the vegetable tray. At which point my husband carried it outside like one might carry a dead cat they found in the living room. We had no time to investigate what exact aspect of the tray was causing the odor because of the urgent need to dispose of its hazardous contents.

Me? Only slightly shamed and humiliated. I mean, you try to do the nice thing, and subtly offer fresh produce to strangers, only to crash and burn and disgust an entire event. We had to open the doors to keep people from becoming ill.

I returned to Target that evening, with only my receipt, and had to explain why I deserved a refund for a veggie tray that smelled like farts. The 20-year-old at the counter is undeniably still retelling this story to his buddies, while I’m just trying to recover from the stench.

Oh, and if you want to know why I”m suddenly so comfortable writing about farts, see # 6 on this list – it is gloriously entertaining.

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Until very recently, I thought Alaska was an island.

Until very recently, I thought Alaska was an island. Stew on that humiliating gem for a second.

I won’t dwell on why I held onto this belief until age 30, or the awkwardness that ensued when I finally learned the truth, but I’ll tell you what I learned from the experience of being completely embarrassed by something seemingly simple.

1. Never assume that someone should just know something. As much as we may expect or want another person to know a certain thing or behave a particular way, given our own familiarity with it, this kind of assumption will frustrate you and make others feel foolish. So, communicate. You can easily address what may seem obvious, but isn’t necessarily clear to everyone.

2. Humility is awesome; I think it’s one of the characteristics I admire most in others after humor and generosity. If you mess up, or don’t know something (like the location of your country’s largest state), own up to it. Embrace it. It’s tough, and probably not the path we’d choose, but scrambling to cover up a mistake rarely pans out. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in for a lifetime of disappointment.

3. Learn from your mistakes, or else they’ll make themselves comfortable. It’s unlikely I’ll forget the geographic composition of Alaska again, but in lots of cases, the way we act or approach things is harder to adjust. The sooner you’re able to acknowledge an error and determine an alternate solution, the lower the chances you’ll become a repeat offender.

In the event you’re still struggling to pick your jaw up off the floor at my geographic ineptitude, in my humble defense, I attended college on an academic scholarship, and graduated with honors. I tend to think of myself as intelligent, but it would appear there was a tiny lag in my education with regard U.S. geography. I would have benefitted greatly from a few more science classes. Sorry mom and dad.

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