Big Fat Copycats and Stuff

As I’ve been drowsing my way through the vast amounts of orientation material at Harvard, there is a recurring theme of academic integrity. In short: don’t claim someone else’s ideas as your own. End of story. In that spirit, here’s a disclaimer for this journal: I’ve enjoyed reading Sammy’s, Mom thought I should start one too. So, in admiration and under pressure, I’ll make an effort to keep everyone up to date on the adventures John and I have in Boston. Entry #1 will be a tome—the first few days have been full of amusing adventures—but I’ll try to be concise hereafter.

Before I leave the copycat theme altogether, a word to Sam:I found my roommate on Craigslist first. : P

We are now, more or less, settled into our apartment, but the move was…exciting. The drive to Bedford wasn’t too bad, and after dropping the Uhaul and visiting briefly with Grammy, John and I headed into the city to navigate the nuances of that queen of red tape, the capitol of the commonwealth herself. Our plan was to drive into Alewife and ride the Red Line to our various destinations. Finding Alewife Station? No problem. Figuring out how to park in the garage at Alewife Station, however, is something more of a problem. You would think I would have remembered how to get into the garage after the last time Rachel and I spent half and hour driving around the dratted thing, but no. All I can say is, “Thank goodness (and Brenda and Tom!) for Nuvi.” Without her navigational assistance, we might still be driving in circles on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Our first goal was to brand ourselves as that particular type of driver known to the world to be criminally insane behind the wheel: the Masshole. Without MA plates, we couldn’t get the residential parking sticker, so we stood in line for a full hour to register the car. Heaven help the poor saps that make the mistake of using blue ink on their forms. Of course, one can’t get the parking sticker at the RMV—that ended up being another hour-long line for another day.

The lines at Harvard were blessedly non-existent, but that was more than made up for by the number of people I needed to hunt down for a signature on one form or another. You know that old joke about the monk who had to go up and up and down and down and down and up and up and down and down and down and up in order to find the ultimate truth? Harvard treats a person to the same workout in the search for “veritas.”

Getting out of Alewife and back to Grammy’s for delicious shrimp scampi was no problem—we managed to stay just ahead of the rush hour traffic. Driving in to Allston the next day was less unproblematic. I’ll paint the scene for you: Melissa, a timid Maine driver, drives a Mass.-plated standard east through morning traffic into Boston, only half knowing where she’s going, and trying to read road signs through the glare of the early morning sun while keeping John and the Uhaul in sight. Two wrong turns (a number I’m delighted with for being so small), several jerky hill-starts, and a parallel parking job on Commonwealth later, I found that the meters took only quarters (of which I had exactly one left) and that the realty office wouldn’t have our keys for another hour, in spite of the promised delivery time of 8 a.m. You can fill in the details of my mental state, I’m sure.

When I rejoined John by the apartment (he had taken a shorter route, since we didn’t both need to go to the realty office), I had managed to acquire quarters and park the Saturn in a spot where it could stay all day, but I had no keys. John had parked in an illegal line of other Uhauls, all of which had managed to drop their contents on the sidewalk and repark legally elsewhere.

Moving into Boston on September 1, we discovered, is a lunatic’s game. Doing it with only two people is even crazier. John and I thought we would be find, but I’ll tell all our family and friends rights now that when we have to move out of this place, we will be begging on our hands and knees for any help at all, even if it’s only to make sure that creepy old crazy people don’t go pawing through our stuff while we’re schlepping it into the truck. Yes, that really happened. Fortunately, crazy people have an odd sense of value, and the old man didn’t make off with anything more valuable than a box of paperclips.

We would have been completely overwhelmed, I think, if not for the help of a very talkative and very drunk recent ex-pat of the building we were moving into. He and his girlfriend were on the steps with all of their things, waiting for their friend to arrive with a pick-up. Though drunk, he was clearly more savvy about moving into a fourth floor apartment, and he helped us out by giving us some tips, lending us a second dolly, keeping an eye out for creepy old men who might try to steal more paperclips, and holding the elevator door. Holding the elevator door was actually more helpful than it might sound. Being an old-fashioned piece of work with two sliding grate doors that have to be muscled into place against the force of a powerful spring, we earned our badges in bruises just keeping it open long enough to roll the dolly in and out of.

As for the amount of stuff we were moving, I think we learned a very valuable lesson. You may think you need it when you’re packing it, but when you’re moving it with a limited crew and into limited space, you suddenly realize just how much you really don’t need. At all. When we got into the apartment with all of our boxes, before we had unpacked anything, we did not have more than a square foot of space together to stand on. Stuff is more superfluous than I thought.

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