A Very Moving Story

A couple of weekends ago, I posted a harrowing yet good-humored little tale of our last days in San Diego on another blog that I frequent, DailyKos. I was guest host of a weekly feature there called “What’s Your F***ing Problem (WYFP),” where the community gathers together every Saturday evening to whine and moan about anything they want, and offer each other support. By popular request (the populace consisting of McDoc), I’m cross-posting it here.

You can read it in its original context, where it will be followed by DailyKos user comments, here…

Or follow Mr. ReadMore to stay right here at ODO.

WYFP? Things, Things and More Things Edition

I’m really glad to have the chance to host WYFP tonight, but I’m a little sheepish about it as well, since I haven’t been participating much during the past few months. I just happened to pop in on a night when volunteer hosts were being solicited, so I put up my hand and got lucky! Thank you, musing85, for this opportunity!

WYFP is our community’s Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here.
Won’t you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?

I’ve been busy on Saturday nights because I was in a commuter relationship. The med student formerly known as Fiancé, who is now the doctor known as Dr. Virgomusic, was finishing med school at U.C. Irvine, while I was teaching music in San Diego, 80 miles away. Since we only saw each other on the weekends, Saturday nights were our reserved time.

How, then, did I come to be sitting on the floor in a nearly empty apartment in a suburb of Detroit, writing this little epistle?

Well, when Dr. VM does something, he does it all the way – this man I love is not someone who pussyfoots around. So when the time came for him to have a midlife crisis, he didn’t buy a sports car, he didn’t start chasing supermodels (well, that’s debatable, ahem! ;)) – he went to medical school, as a career change from teaching. After considering and rejecting child psychiatry and OB-GYN as specialties, he chose Emergency Medicine. And where better to train in Emergency Medicine than Detroit Medical Center, in the heart of the “inner city”?

When you tell people that you’re leaving Southern California to move to Detroit, on purpose, they tend to look at you with a mixture of pity, revulsion and confusion that is really something to see. Why would anyone leave California, Californians wonder? Well, here’s the thing: medical residents make about the same salary whether they train in New York, New York or Manhattan, Kansas, so it makes sense to apply somewhere where your dollar goes further – particularly your housing dollar. Also, musicians tend to be overworked and underpaid most anywhere they live, and the idea was for me to be able to work on my own, non-lucrative musical projects instead of taking any and every gig I could get. So we settled on a particular range of Midwestern cities, which had the bonus of being within a half a day’s drive of Dr. VM’s sister and her family, who we like very much. And the training in Emergency Medicine in Detroit really is excellent – they wrote the book on it, literally.

In keeping with our theme of doing things all the way, we spent the past several months preparing for the following Schedule of Events:

Saturday, June 2:
Morning: Fiancé’s med school graduation
Evening: Wedding rehearsal and dinner

Sunday, June 3:

Wednesday, June 6:
Movers arrive at Casa Virgomusic
VM & Dr. VM clean out apartment after furniture and boxes are loaded

Thursday, June 7:
Begin 5-day drive to Detroit, in small sedan, with cat.

We knew that this schedule was completely insane highly ambitious, but we arranged it that way so that a) important out-of-town family members could attend both the graduation and the wedding, and 2) we could arrive at our new home in time for that start of residency orientation, on June 18.

And this is how I’m finally going to get around to something that relates to my title. A friend said to me recently that “pack” and “move” are 4-letter words, and he was so right. In many ways, “wedding” is a 4-letter word as well. I hadn’t intended to get swept up by the Wedding-Industrial Complex, but unless you’re content to go to City Hall on a weekday or have a potluck in Aunt Amelia’s backyard, it’s awfully hard to avoid. I found myself needing to do an obscene amount of last-minute shopping in the week before the wedding – partially because of another, unrelated problem I have, which is my pathological aversion to asking for help (fortunately, several friends forced their help on me – if they hadn’t, this thing wouldn’t have gotten done). It was like I had been forcibly subjected to aversion therapy for shopaholism – nooo, don’t make me go to the mall AGAIN! I was lamenting my materialism while getting ready for the girliest day of my life. And all along, I knew in the back of my mind that as soon as the wedding day had come and gone, I’d be plunged into packing and moving hell. (After a lovely night at a swanky hotel that we received as a wedding gift, that is! And the wedding day itself was wonderful and fun.)

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But then…

Oh, my God, the chaos. The angst. The pain and suffering. The shame and regret – why hadn’t I started on this sooner? (Because I was planning a wedding, that’s why! Leave me alone! No one understands me, blah blah blah!) The thing is, I have very few possessions that I consider indispensable: my computer, my piano, a music cabinet that my brother built for me, and a few little knickknacks and mementos with sentimental value. The rest of it could be consumed by fire and I really wouldn’t grieve for very long. I’ve often joked that the best household cleaning device is either a leafblower or a blowtorch. But when the rubber meets the road, when the shit really hits the fan and you have movers coming and you have to decide what to take and what to get rid of, it’s really not that easy. None of the stuff I had was worth a whole lot, so it seemed crazy to me to pay to move it. But I realized that I’d either have to move it, or buy it again when we got here. Both options seemed ridiculous. It was like pulling teeth the whole way. Dr. VM had every right to be furious with me – I had balked at the number of boxes he had stored in my laundry room after he cleared out of grad student housing – but that was nothing compared with the crap I had accumulated. He was admirably restrained, I must say.

Revised Schedule of Events:

Friday, June 8:
Movers arrive at Casa Virgomusic
VM & Dr. VM clean out abandon apartment after furniture and boxes are loaded

Sunday, June 10:
Begin 5-day drive to Detroit, in small sedan, with cat.

We had to postpone the movers by 2 days. After they left, we arranged with my landlord to pay for a cleaner, out of my security deposit, because we were simply too exhausted to do it ourselves. (Fortunately, I had been an excellent tenant, and he was very understanding.) And we ended up leaving things behind that I found I was more attached to than I realized, if only because I felt so wasteful and irresponsible. After taking 3 full carloads to the local thrift store, we were out of time and just had to start throwing things in the dumpster. Oh, the things we threw out. Nice things. Useful things. Things that could have been donated, things that should have been recycled. It made me sick. I felt like a refugee who’d had to flee for her life, but I was really only running from my own unwillingness/inability to deal with things before the last minute.

We were very fortunate in that Dr. VM has an aunt and uncle who live in a lovely high-rise condo in San Diego, and we stayed on an extra day with them to rest up before our cross-country drive. It was surreal, feeling like we were on vacation in my soon-to-be former hometown.

In the end, of course, I took the important things with me: Dr. VM and Piccolo Pootie. And another carload of crap that we carted from San Diego to Detroit. As Dr. VM likes to say, it’s a tough gig, this being human.

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One last thing to be sheepish about – I’ll only be around to play in comments for an hour or so, as Dr. VM and I are going to the very first concert given by a newly-formed group called New Music Detroit – a potentially very important professional contact for me.

What about you? What are you glad you left behind, and what are you glad you kept?


A Very Moving Story — 1 Comment

  1. Well this is an awesome WYFP! I am sorry I missed it – was watching the RedSox/Padres that night.
    Congrats again on making it through all of that.