I have an addiction. Not to anything that comes in a glass bottle or a pill bottle or a soda bottle. And, the obsessive shopping thing is clearly not my bag (pause for deliciously bad pun). I can hardly starve myself as eating is as important to me as sleep, an institution I give generously to and work tirelessly for. My commitment to the sandman is paramount, which is clearly proven by the fact that I have never met a nap I didn’t suffocate with my love. My past mild adoration for poker and casino gambling died in a tragic head on collision with the reasoning that my hard earned money felt so much better in a mid-priced leather wallet than being dragged across a green felt table and into the pants pocket of a bloated dealer wearing a sweat stained tuxedo shirt and lifeless, drooping eyes.
No, my uncontrollable habit happens to involve heavy lifting, lots of dusting and a sense of satisfaction only a pedophile at Disneyland can truly understand. I love to rearrange. When life feels stagnant and Otto’s toys have taken over like the brazen body odor of a large stranger on a broken elevator, I move things around and tell myself that we have just moved into our new dream house. The brown Scandinavian Salvation Army chairs, once bored and north facing are given a new lease on life by being turned at a groovy, hip angle and made to look like nightclub seating before the deluge of vomit has landed. The vintage, aqua dresser, after spending a few morose years staring head on at the poop green sofa, now has a great view of the heating vent and the ascending stairs to somewhere. The green lamp is now in the southwest corner and the swirl painting I found in a trash bin, a yellow and green acrylic number that looks like a an artistic representation of a bad acid trip on Easter Sunday, is nestled into the corner next to the bucket of Otto’s dirty, sand-filled shoes.
But the real masterpiece, the shit on my shingle is the new playroom we created. The other night, while sitting on the sofa, the upholstered Goliath that can only live in one place due to a living room built by 1930’s Cubists, I suddenly saw a solution to my deep, dark recession depression. Our dining room, a space no larger than a Koo Koo Roo take-out container, seemed to be crying out for help. Over taken by a huge farmhouse table that my husband and I insisted on buying to make our place feel like the loft in our convoluted, design mag fantasies, the dining room appeared to be an Al Qaeda hide out decorated by a newly recruited Cost Plus employee hell bent on Muslim home makeovers and martyrdom.
Every time we ate a meal at la tableau le ferme we would have to crawl over one another to the kitchen for a water refill or a full breath of air. Dinner guests were squashed against the wall and crammed next to the over sized highboy, while we encouraged them not to extricate themselves until the meal was finished, for fear of serious injury or death. If anyone needed to use the restroom off the dining room or regain the feeling in the lower extremities, it would have to wait until dessert was served in the living room area and/or enough alcohol was consumed to mask the pain.
So, while gazing into the cave of chaos, I channeled one of my all time, favorite yet annoying clichés, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” With the strength of a linebacker and the determination of a one-legged baton twirler, I pulled the football field- sized table into the living room and made the dining room Otto’s very own toy store, thus solving the infamous toy takeover mystery of 2009. All his playthings were now relegated to his new playroom and we could eat meals without passing out from lack of oxygen. And, instead of the room seeming minuscule and unusable, it now felt spacious and purposeful. Not only that, Dave girded his loins, climbed across all the old junk we have in our over flowing garage and rescued an antique, wrought iron baker’s rack we stashed away another lifetime ago to help corral the chaos.
Armed with rubber gloves and a body condom, I cleaned the rack as if it had been dipped in toxic waste and fecal foliage. This act of ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ not only got my duster’s itch scratched but a whole new shelf unit to organize all of the trucks, cars, trains and rubber dinosaurs that have made my life a pile of foot injuries in the fetal position. All the random containers that covered the playroom floor were now neatly lined up on the rack and colored coordinated like Martha Stewart’s guest cottage tampon cupboard. The train table that used to look like a tiny Tokyo, after Mothra crashed a Godzilla family reunion, was now clutter free and proudly sitting in its very own vestibule. Every dump truck had a parking space, every ball had a basket, and every Play had a Doh.
Of course, in its new home, the table of terror allowed us to have guests over for a hot meal without having to ask them to remove their clothing and enter at their own risk. But, it was clearly swallowing up the living room, one cheap accessory at a time, making me feel nervous and exposed every time I sat down to eat. A quick trip to the local antique store, code word for mothball smelling crud pile, garnered a small, 1940’s drop leaf number, small enough to fold down and fit in the corner but large enough to seat six when needed. This new addition gave me yet another rearrange fix I craved while making our living space less Hoarders and more, Extreme Home Makeover: Dead People’s Furniture Edition.
Otto loves his new romper room and has already mastered the art of dumping everything out of the neatly placed bins and putting them back empty, exactly where they belong. I, on the other hand, am writing on the shrink to fit table that goes where we go and does what we need it to do. Meal for two? Table for five? Typing for one? Is that a lamp stand in your pocket or are you happy to see me?
After all the sweating and wiping and pushing and pulling, our crazy old apartment with its cracked walls, listing floors and horrific lack of storage space feels calm and controlled. I got my rocks off without a near tragic overdose and lengthy rehab and everything downstairs now has its place.
Oh, shit crackers! I forgot. There’s another story.