We've been sleeping in the living room of our Morningside Heights apartment for the past week, our massive king-size bed entirely filling the square of space in our north/west facing living room.
Due to the exposure, sweet cold air swirls around us at night and sunshine spills in early in the morning. Because we overlook the Columbia campus and face classrooms and dorm rooms alike, we dress and undress in total darkness or with shades drawn or in another room.
The renovation, ordered by Columbia University, began a little over a week ago and as these things go, it is taking longer than anticipated. Our bedroom has been a worksite for the past eight days with floors ripped up and replaced, the ceiling pulled down and rebuilt, the walls primed for a fresh coat of paint -- a vibrant Benjamin Moore blue whose swatch card and name and number I cannot find because I am typing on a folding card table in the dining room surrounded by mounds of furniture, clothes and dogs.
I have been circulating the same outfits over three or four days, too stressed at the prospect of digging through drawers that open only a couple of inches or entering the walk-in closet that is stuffed with suitcases and books and other stuff that had formerly been in our room. I am trying to look as clean as possible, make sure that at least I have on clean underclothes.
Because the workers arrive so early and the bathroom is opposite my bedroom, aka the construction site, I am trying to shower at the gym, then again, I haven't been getting there every day.
HOBB and I are about to kill each other, in fact, he went psycho on Sunday night when I returned from watching the beginning of the Super Bowl at a bar on Amsterdam Avenue. Well, he waited until after we ate our dinner of fresh salmon, which I picked up at Fairway before going to the bar. And then he went psycho, compelling me to leave our apartment/construction zone and watch the final hour of the Super Bowl at another bar on Amsterdam Avenue.
En route to the bar (the second time) I called Little Babe (who was in his bedroom doing a lab report for Physics at the time) to make sure he knew that everything his father had yelled at me was due to the extreme stress he was enduring in the construction zone of our apartment.
Which doesn't mean that I am as understanding...or forgiving.
Regarding the displacement of the construction, I am hardly complaining. This is one of the perks of living in faculty housing -- an apartment facelift that costs us nada or next to nada. Two weeks ago I picked out new appliances, haunting the PC Richards website, visiting the showroom, speaking with customer service representatives, trying to find the best model that still adhered to the Columbia budget. I pondered paint shades for hours, taping swatches to the walls of the various rooms and contemplating them from afar. I still have to scoot down to W72nd Street to pick out tiles for the kitchen.
And oh yeah, I forgot I need to finalize my dishwasher choice.
As anyone who lived through a renovation can attest, the process is stressful but it is also an opportunity for goal-setting, life-assessment and, of course, cleaning out that which is weighing you down...or that you simply do not need anymore.
As a pack-rat (i.e., horder) the most challenging part of living in an apartment is the difficulty of holding onto all the clothes and chatchkes I have ever acquired. Loathe to part with anything I purchased in a moment of passion, I have stored most of my clothes, even the teeny-weeny shorts I wore when I weighed 112 pounds, which was about ten years ago when I went on the Atkins Diet.
In the process of clearing out our room for the workers, we had to unload the clothes and boxes on top of the loft in our bedroom because the loft had to be dismantled under engineer's orders. This forced me to go through the bags and boxes I had thrown up there over the past decade. This forced me, now ten years older and more pragmatic, to acknowledge the unlikelihood of ever wearing 2/3rds of those micro-sized clothes again.
Thus I bagged and discarded, donating my beloved former threads to some skinny person in need.
But I did save a few items, either because they had generous proportions or because the prospect of fitting into them again was not the stuff of dreams.
One such item was a pair of red corduroy jeans, size 6, from Old Navy, suddenly back in style, small, to be sure, but not ludicrous, perhaps a size or two away from my present proportions.
An attainable goal, I say, despite the challenge of menopausal weight loss. "Have you gained any weight over the past year?" asked Nancy, the CNM I saw yesterday at my yearly OB-GYN visit, my practitioner for the past fifteen years.
I laughed in response and she laughed in fellowship, five years my senior.
Moved to give away the Guess cut-off jeans, size 27, and the size 2 chinos and shirts that will not even button around my boobs anymore (one nice aspect of the aforementioned menopausal spike in weight), I am nevertheless holding onto my Old Navy red cords, hoping to squeeze my butt into them some day soon.
Resting on a pile of stuff inside my stuffed walk-in closet, they are a friendly inducement for weight loss, a textile incarnation of a personal trainer, a reminder of who I was, not so very long ago, and who I might be again, in the very near future.