On the home(less) stretch

I have spent more time on hold listening to Muzac in the past days, than in the past months combined. This is because I am having to inform everyone official – from my dentist to the phone company – that I am of ‘no fixed address’. I now have something more in common with the homeless many of Seattle than a love of coffee. Not only do I not have an address, I too am relying on the kindness of others in the following weeks.

Currently I am living with friends, Shaz and Aido (the Aussie forms of their Irish monikers Sharon and Aidan), who recently bought a big house with room enough for a wayward friend. At first it was a little surreal waking up in one of their spare rooms, as it is filled with my furniture, given to them on permanent loan while I am in the U.S.  So, my room, but not my room.

The furniture situation, thankfully, suits Shaz and Aido, because they are frequently descended upon by travelling Irish folk – friends and family alike. It suits me, as I love the blanket box my Dad made me when I was 21(although as a side note, he referred to it as my ‘hope chest’ – or rather, my ‘hope I get married chest’ – remember when girls had those?), and I will get to have it back when / if Ben and I move back to Sydney. I haven’t really thought beyond that, but I suppose if plans develop and we stay stateside or move to Europe, I could send for it, packed tightly with my priceless memorabilia and photos.

Which brings me to my ‘Where the heck is my stuff?’ list. This is a list of the locations of items kind friends are storing for me. Some things are on permanent loan (that whole returning to live in Sydney thing), and I am happy for friends to use them. Some things are tucked away in attics, sheds, and garages, labelled ‘Sandy’s stuff’.

Stuff deemed ‘takeable’ is sitting on a dock in Sydney waiting to be loaded on a ship that leaves for Seattle via California in about a week. Packing these boxes was like constructing a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I spent two weeks creating a giant pile of stuff in the middle of my living room, and there it sat tormenting me, until a friend came over and said, “C’mon, let’s pack this stuff.”  So we did.

I constructed my jigsaw puzzles, while Patrice wrote down what went into each box.  She didn’t even raise an eyebrow when I called out, “Box three, hiking boots with egg cups.”  She has moved internationally, you see, and like me she knows that the inside of a boot is a good place to put something small and breakable.

So, the stuff has pretty much dispersed: given away, sold, farmed out, and packed.  At the moment, I have two suitcases full of clothes, a stack of paperwork yet to deal with, and a few personal items.  Oh, and a car.  A big, red shiny car, that needs to be sold in the next four weeks.  I am keeping positive on that front, as it is in good nick and looks brilliant post detail and polish.

Next week I move again.  After the nuptials of Yasmin on Scott this coming weekend, they take off for 6 weeks in south-east Asia on their Honeymoon, and I begin my stint of house/cat sitting.  Storm is a Russian Blue and only likes three people – Yasmin and Scott of course, and me.  It will be nice to have a cat around, as I do still miss Jessie.

After four weeks with Storm, I jet off to WA (Western Australia) for Christmas with my family, and then on the 29th jet off to the other WA (Washington State) for New Year’s Eve with Ben.  As I tick things off my many ‘to do’ lists, it is all sinking in, and I am getting very excited.

Ben told me that the other night he went up on the roof – there is a deck and outdoor furniture up there – and looked at Puget Sound under the stars.  In about six weeks, I will be able to that with him.  Yes, not homeless for much longer.

Chaise Lounge


This is my living room sans couch, dining suite, and pictures on the wall. Ironically, it now shares common traits with the Seattle apartment, where we have yet to buy a couch, a dining suite and to put things on the wall.

Ben and I started looking at couches, dining suites and things to put on the wall while I was there a few weeks ago. I think we share a common vision. I say this, of course, with the understanding that we may be seeing that common vision from completely different perspectives.

We have agreed, as a start, that the entertainment system is all him, and the kitchen is all me. While that division in domesticity may reek of 1950s ideologies, it is a fair call on our part. I love to cook, and have very specific ideas of how I want ‘my’ kitchen. And Ben knows more about electronic components and how to make them ‘talk’ to each other than I thought was possible. So, in this arrangement, we are playing to our strengths.

We have other differences too. Last weekend my boyfriend admitted that he has added to his collection of plastic 2:1 scale musical instruments (Rock Band, Guitar Hero), while I confessed that I have bought 4 pairs of new shoes in the past two weeks. He loves video games, I love shoes. We’ll make room for both, somewhere.

In the meantime, we get to choose a couch that says, “Ben and Sandy live here.” Likely it will NOT have one of those fabric contraptions with pockets that hangs over the arm and holds the remote controls.

We did find one we both sorta liked. Mostly what we liked about it was that it had a chaise lounge on one end. That says to me, “stylish, yet perfect for snuggling.” To Ben it says, “I can watch TV horizontally.” The point is, we both like that style of couch.

I had to be honest with my soon to be ‘domestic partner’ when he mentioned that ‘La-Z-boy’ had couches on sale that recline on both ends.

If we get a couch like that, I worry that we will become a couple who have ‘his and hers’ end tables, mine littered with empty tea cups and books yet to read, and his piled high with remotes and back issues of ‘Fortune’. We’ll head to our respective ends, recline and get comfortable. Comfortable, we three feet of leather between us. Yes, the couple with one of these is a couple that no longer enjoys a passionate relationship.

His response to my impassioned argument was to laugh, and say, “Well, it IS true that we are defined by our furniture.” He is teasing me, but I think we’ll be getting a couch with the bit that sticks out.

These are the details that will be a welcome relief from paperwork and red tape, packing, giving away, storing, and sorting, and from the endless lists that govern my life at the moment.

Today my home looked like this:
and this:
and this:
as I packed, sorted, sold, and gave things away.

So, I am looking forward to working through a new list, a list for the next chapter in my life. So far it looks like this:

Buy a couch
Get a job
Make some friends
Join a gym
Learn new running routes

Yes, all that to look forward to, but notice that the couch is number one on the list.

When Ben and I stayed at the B and B in Yosemite, I was busy nesting – unpacking and looking in cupboards – and I heard a call out from the living room, “Honey, come in here.” When I got there, Ben was sitting on a big, lumpy, seen better days couch with his arms outstretched. “Look, Honey, we have a couch. Come sit with me.” And I did, and we sat for quite some time on that big, lumpy, see better days couch, enjoying the simple pleasure of snuggling up on it together.

That is why it is first.