BY LAURA JANE
I am sitting at my kitchen table in Toronto. It’s Thursday. I only have three entire days left to live here and I’m already halfway through one of them so that isn’t even a true sentence. I have two and a half days left to live here, plus another half of a day on Sunday. Then we- my boyfriend Mark and I- will go to the airport, where we'll interact with a machine that prints out our boarding passes and can never read my passport because it got bent up in my wallet and then we'll check our luggage. They'll put our luggage in the belly of the plane with all the coffins and sedated dogs and we'll trust they won’t lose it and then we'll go drink Canadian beer and eat stale french fries in a "lounge" and nothing we could look at each other and say would express the enormity of it. And then we'll get on a plane and the plane will fly us away. The ocean will sit still and ferocious beneath us. It doesn’t need us.
The plane will land in the morning. We'll get off the plane and hey now we’re in LONDON in ENGLAND and everything is different except for the language people speak and that we’re still Laura and Mark. But even then, even right away, we’ll be a different Laura and Mark. We’ll be Laura and Mark who moved instead of Laura and Mark who are moving.
I wanted to write about moving because I only have two and a half days left to live here and if I don’t write about moving now I know I’ll never write about moving. And I wanted to write about moving.
I spent the first three weeks of July moving, doing all the moving things. I thought it was going to be a non-time but it was a big time, big the way you’ll say a certain wine is big, big like “I’m kind of a big deal.” It was a big old jerk animal who showed up at the end of June and plopped himself (he is a boy) down on his big fat butt in front of me and in lieu of a formal introduction yelled his name- “Packing All Your Shit Up And Moving To London And Like Calling The Phone Company And Whatever,” that’s his name- right up in my face so close I could smell his breath which smelled okay but still. It was rude. Packing All Your Shit Up And Moving To London And Like Calling The Phone Company And Whatever chained his hands to my hands and his feet to my feet and together we thumped across the first three weeks of July as one clumsy, blundering idiot in an idiot costume who hated each other. Who hated itself.
You have all of this shit, I had all of this shit, and most of it was either a book I bought seven years ago and looked at once and then never looked at again or a broken piece of electronics equipment. I imagined all of the shit heaped together in a big wacky pile of its useless self. I imagined forming the pile into a mountain-shape and climbing to its peak, where I would sit cross-legged wearing a bunch of stuffed animals’ mangled bodies sewn together and woven into a crown. It would be my throne and I’d yell “THIS IS ALL MY SHIT” and my shit would be my kingdom. My Shit Kingdom.
I started with the bookshelf. I took a book off the bookshelf and leafed through it. I had never read the book. I wondered what was the point of taking a book I’d never read and putting that book in a box and locking the box up in a storage unit and then letting it sit there until I died. I put the book on top of a filing cabinet and decided that when 1-800-GOT-JUNK came to pick up all my junk I’d give them the book. The book was junk. It was a junky horse or bale of hay from the stable at Crap Castle in Shit Kingdom.
I separated Shit Kingdom into four subsets. Nothing too exciting. Some of Shit Kingdom was outsourced to 1-800-GOT-JUNK, most went to live at the storage unit, some was packed into cardboard and will be mailed across the ocean, and the rest of it got packed into two suitcases, one large and one small. In the suitcases I’ve packed clothing and contact lenses and picture books about the Beatles. A couple of my astrology-themed highball glasses, a small music box the dishwasher at my old work gave me, which plays a tinny, demure Korean folk song. A rock my old boss chipped off the side of a golghar in Rishikesh, India. Tampons and deodorant and dental floss. The first three Sparks records and Wonderwall Music by George Harrison. A photograph of my mother sitting in front of a mountain, hunching into her shoulders, looking sweet and shy. A photograph of my father in a straw cowboy hat, looking rangy and squinting at the sun. Five pound weights, four pairs of shoes, Sandinista!, perfume. Two pillowcases. A fitted sheet.
My last week-and-a-half in the city I had a dinner date every night. I ate fried chicken and peanut butter pie and chicken wings and vegan duck and dumpling soup and dim sum. I had the Terroni spaghetti with clams and baby octopi and drank Negronis and Manhattans and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that tasted like a little tin cup of canned fruit cocktail. I listened to every single Beatles album in a row and went to the bank and the gym and called the phone company and told them all, very seriously: I am moving to another country. I sat across a table from every person I love and over and over again I stared into the slopes and hollows of their faces and wondered why on Earth would anybody be so stupid that they’d do what I am doing. Every night we sat still or moved and time rolled off its spool and there was nothing I could do. So I had another drink. I could sit at that table and drink another drink and then drink another drink and we’d never fall asleep and the sun would never set and the sun would never rise. That’s how I would keep us there. That’s how I could trap us both in time.
When you’re just living your normal life and you’re not moving away to anywhere you don’t realize that it’s a privilege to know what your life is going to look like in a week. Or three days. Or a month. It’s weird to know that in twenty days I’m going to walk out my front door and my front door will be painted a color, and it will have a lock on it, and maybe the lock will have a weird lock quirk where you have to shimmy the key a certain way or maybe it won’t. I honestly have no idea. I’ll live in an apartment that I’ll awkwardly refer to as a flat and the air will feel like something and smell like something and we’ll go to the store to buy food and I don’t know what the store will be called and many of the brands of food will be unfamiliar to me and I don’t know if there will be stairs up to or down from the door and I don’t know what my street will be named and I don’t know what restaurant I’ll work at or the number of the bus I’ll take and living with that level of uncertainty can really fuck a guy up.
It's late on Saturday night. I’m moving to London in nineteen hours. I want to march into the city and watch the masses scramble to my feet and kiss them because I am a warrior who once was lost but now has found the place where she belongs and the people of London will know it and celebrate it and name a day after me.
Mark went and stayed at his parents’ house up North for three days last week. I couldn’t sleep. The light in the room was brighter without him: in the night, I mean. It woke me up on an hourly basis and at six AM the day got so loud it sounded like every child who existed on Earth were collectively playing an obnoxious fantasy game called “Vikings” or “Unicorns” outside my window. A third of their voices were regular kid voices but a third of them were motorcycle engines revving and the other third were different types of sirens.
I got my period in the middle of the night. Wednesday night. The blood trickling out of my body reminded me of how they tap a thing into a tree and maple syrup pours out of the tree. Very Canadian imagery.
It didn’t hurt or anything. It felt annoying like a little kid tap-tap-tap-tapping on your shoulder, relentlessly trying to get your attention while you’re trying to take a goddamned nap. I wanted to cry and scream into my pillow. So many different ingredients from inside and outside of me were conspiring to guarantee that I would never sleep again. I listened to the siren-children and my stupid drippy faucet dripping all over itself. “Nobody will ever love you,” I told the tap. It said “Drip, drip, drip.” I thought about how I am moving to London to invest in myself and my future. I thought, I want to be rich enough to afford a tap that doesn’t drip all over itself. I want the most beautiful, state-of-the-art faucet.
I woke up and walked into the kitchen following the sound of the siren-children like a zombie. I was in a trance and on the road to turning into a siren-child myself.
“Weeooooweeeeooooweeeoooo,” I said. I looked at the kitchen. Nearly the entire floor was submerged in about an inch of water. It had flooded overnight.
I walked through the water. It was ice-cold. I wanted to make myself a cup of coffee but it seemed weird to stand in a flooded kitchen making a cup of coffee doot-da-doot-da-doo then laze around drinking it and reading a Buzzfeed list of Seventy Thousand Reasons Why Your Life Is Really Weird Right Now as some guy canoes by and the floor rots out beneath your feet. Good thing you had that cup of coffee Laura. You are nice and alert to deal with how you just fell through the ceiling and are now lying in the middle of your landlady’s kitchen with an extremely sore butt.
I found a paper bag printed with the Pizza Pizza logo in the fridge. Inside the bag was a can of Diet Coke. Mark likes to buy the deal where you get three cans of soda free with a large pizza and he always gets me Diet Cokes because I love them and he doesn’t drink soda. I put on a yellow Snoopy t-shirt of Snoopy pleading, “Embrasse-moi, je parle Francais” and cut-off jean shorts and went to go tell my landlady’s son about the flood. I looked like a camp counselor from the 1970s, or possibly just a camper. Alex said he’d call a plumber. I draped two bath towels across the floor.
I was too tired to remember that mops are a thing that exist. I walked to the store and bought two rolls of paper towel and I walked across my kitchen trailing the roll of paper towel behind me like I was a snail and the paper towels were the trail of slime that a snail disgustingly leaves behind itself as it rolls along. The paper towels soaked up all the water and that was how I fixed my flood. I balled them up and stuffed them in a trash bag and I took the bath towels to the bathroom, they weighed about fifty pounds, and squeegeed out most of the water. I threw them out too. They were already beginning to smell like mold.
I lay in bed and rubbed my eyes. My eyes were so tired I felt like someone had poured Srichacha all over them and then rubbed it in. “This is just the Universe trying to tell you it’s a good thing that you’re leaving Toronto,” I told myself unconvincingly, and I sat up and didn’t cry because I had brunch plans in a half hour and, honestly, I wasn’t all that sad.