August 25, 2009

Back to Books Blues

The summer has ended. U-Hauls across the world are revved to head over to colleges distant and near, dodging congested city traffic, crossing exotic countryside, crunching gravel, and treading water. Friends met three months ago say goodbye as quickly as they said hello. In between cornfields and a beet plantation, a moving van exits a little town called Auburn--not Auburn Hills--jumping onto M-20 heading West. It was followed closely by a squat 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass loaded with various odds and ends. The two vehicles swerve in and out of lanes on an uninterrupted path to Grand Rapids.

" 'You had better get everything out of the basement and into your new house,' " her mom had said.

Easier said than done. Nine boxes, four totes, a set of shelves, dresser, bed, bed springs, bed frame, lamp, suitcases, and various loose articles had to be sifted through, organized, and loaded onto the truck. Once reaching Grand Rapids, they had to be lugged off the truck, up a flight of stairs, and down the hallway to her new room.

A bright yellow room. It has only one window that took up one-third of the far wall, facing out onto the street. With brown carpet it looks pretty drab, but it is clean and big.

C'est la vie! She drops the first box of many, letting gravity do the rest, until an abrupt collision with the ground stops it cold. It produces an echoing thud. Crossing the room in five strides, she opens the blinds and lets the late summer sun shine through. Sickening yellow turns into rich creamy butter, and she decides to leave the blinds open forever.

"Mom, you don't have to help me unpack, you know." She slides a book from the top shelf to the middle shelf to make room for more books, "You won't make it back in time for dinner."

"I know. Oh well, the boys will have to survive without me."

Another box is opened with a house key. It is more books. She sets them over by the shelves and jumps over the rest to get to the closet. The clothes are in the totes, and they still have an entire car filled with junk.

She sighs and checks her cell phone. It was past five o'clock. Austin was working already. It took thirty more minutes to get everything out of the car and into the house, and by then both mom and daughter were sweating and aching to take a shower.

"I guess that's it."

"Yeah, you better be going, Mom."

The mother hugs her daughter and kisses her on the cheek, "Be careful."

"You too."

"Oh, I know how to drive. Don't worry about me."

The daughter waves farewell and before the moving van is out of sight she turns to walk down her driveway to the back door. She could never watch them leave. When she had to part with someone she loved, her back was turned and her face hidden so that they couldn't see her cry.

C'est la vie.

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