Packing It In

Here at the Fountain, we are currently over-run with boxes. We are packing for the big move to the Pacific Northwest, which should take place later this summer. We have given up on Boston, or rather, it has given up on us, and when things aren’t going well, at some point you have to take the bull by the horns, scramble those eggs, and mix up every metaphor you can.

We will rent our condo and move in very briefly with in-laws here in Massachusetts. Then I will fly to Seattle and grovel for gainful employment at the biggest and best companies found in the Emerald City. This will make the third time — in about 32 years — that I have moved to Washington State without a firm offer waiting for me. What does bring a bit of cheerfulness is that on each previous occasion, I had a job within two weeks.

What brings even more cheerfulness is that I have dozens of great friends there and in California, and I am old enough (or is it young enough?) to know how important one’s friends are. My happiness index goes way up when I am around them, and the East Coast is entirely too far away from them.

Another item on my ‘Why I Am Moving’ list is the weather. Look at this table. It shows you that the average high temperature in Seattle, in July and August, is 75 degrees. The average high temperature in Seattle, in December and January, is 47 degrees. It is mild, neither too hot nor too cold. Now, if you have spent any time at all on the East Coast — and I spent the first half of my life there — you know that it gets brutally hot and humid in summer, pushing 100 degrees regularly; and in winter, well, let’s just say that this past winter in Boston we received enough snow, sometimes twice a week, to fill the Grand Canyon and have enough left over to cover Islamabad.

Today an unusual map appeared, showing how hot it was going to be for Memorial Day. Instead of displaying the forecast, it showed the “departure from normal,” the differences between the average temperature and what was expected for the day. If you construct a somewhat diagonal line from Lake Superior to New Mexico, you see that the eastern part will experience temperatures as high as 18 degrees above average, with Boston at seventeen degrees. On the other hand, the western part shows slight decreases, with the Seattle forecast for about four degrees lower than average.

My DNA comes from Northern Europe, where it’s cool and pleasant, not from the Equator, where it’s hot hot hot and awful. My father’s side comes from Scotland, and my mother’s side comes from Switzerland, so I am most comfortable where it’s cooler, and there are opportunities for drinking good malt whisky and then yodeling. Besides, watching the sun set over the Puget Sound is nicer than watching the sun come up over the park across the street, where Hispanic men loiter, drink and urinate all day, so the Left Coast wins again.

At the moment there are 30 boxes (12x12x16 inches) of books. That’s 40 cubic feet of just books, with quite a few more downstairs in storage. This morning my mother asked, “How much do you need to keep those books?” and I told her, enough to pack them and to take them with us. Others have counselled that we should buy a Kindle, and maybe that will happen one day, but viewing the value and pleasure of books through the lens of utility does not do them justice.

There is so much pleasure, harmony, comfort, well-being, mental stimulation and more in a book, so much to please the senses from the feel and smell of the leather, turning the pages, reading and adding marginalia, and appreciating the art and craft that went into not just the writing  but the making of the book. Books are precious. If Michelle and I own the last library on Earth, then we will be there, wizened bibliophiles, in our chairs reading books.

There are another 15 or so boxes, some of a larger size, containing everything but books. Ready to accept content are yet another dozen boxes, their flaps open like so many hungry rectangular creatures. Tackling the storage room in the basement frightens me, since I have the sneaking impression that everything down there will expand after it sees the light of day. If all goes well, the pod that will land here on Friday will have room enough for it all, our lives compressed into so many objects.

There is much left to pack and to do, a frightening and daunting list of tasks on paper and in 3D. The Fountain will spout only sporadically for the next week or so, so please be patient with us.

There will be lots more to tell in the coming weeks and months, of life, love, the pursuit of happiness and more.

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