Sunday, September 30, 2012

I went to a party on moving day

The movers showed up at 7:45 in the morning instead of 8:30, as they had said they would. That 45 minutes was the difference, if you must know, between (and I am searching for an appropriate metaphor here – contemplating my existence and not. I did not. Talk about starting out the day in whatever the opposite is of pure, selfish enjoyment.

Instead, I hurried to load my car with all my delicates – the stuff you just have to carry yourself, even if you have a great moving crew – as we did. (Movers, Not Shakers.) When I finished, they guys, in a carefully orchestrated whoosh, emptied first the boxes and then the furniture, and then the piano out to their truck. Not before asking Josh to play the piano though, and one of the guys showing us YouTube videos of him playing Arabic drum. The guys, by the way, were Uzbekistani Muslims, who were speaking Russian, Farsi, Hebrew, and Arabic – and whose all live within blocks of where we’re moving in, and whose second jobs tend to be in kitchens with Chassidic Jews. We found out this last part when one of them sang us a Yiddish song he learned from a guy in the kitchen. And if that’s not a Brooklyn story, I don’t know what is.

And here’s another. As soon as – and I literally mean as soon as – we turned onto our new block, I spied a friend who lives in Fort Greene with his son, coming back from a soccer game at the Parade Grounds, which is a ½ block from our new place. Now this isn’t any guy. This is one of my favorite people I’ve met through Josh, from his Yiddish secular summer camp days. And he and his family offered that we could move to the rental in their house in Fort Greene, which was more than tempting, because their place is beautiful, and living in a house with them would be dreamy. But the place was just a spec smaller than the one we finally got, and the rent was Fort Greene higher, and there was no parking and no garden across the street, so we gave up the dream of getting to see them all the time, and moved to Ditmas Park. And then as soon as – and I literally mean as soon as – we turned onto our new block, there he was with his son, coming back from playing soccer at the Parade Grounds. And guess where they had parked their car? In front of – and I literally mean in front of – our new apartment. And so it looks like, thanks to Saturday morning soccer, we’ll get to see him after all. Life is so interesting sometimes. Closed doors, opened doors, cause, effect. And all that shit.

Then the movers showed up and they filled the apartment with boxes and furniture, and we paid them in cash, and then they left the heavy lifting to us. Well, to me. Josh still has a five-pound limit to what he can lift, post surgery, so he’s been hoisting the bureaucratic heft (Verizon, Con Ed, National Grid) while I hoist the actual boxes. So I unwrapped a few chairs for us to sit on, and a table for us to put things on, and then I went up and set up and made the beds.  (Wait, did I just use the plural form of the the word bed?  I think I did. Wait, are there two bedrooms in this apartment? I think there are.) So I set up and made the beds, so I’d know that whatever else happened throughout the day, I could comfortably crash at the end of it. And I unpacked clothes into my giant closet, and then instead of doing what I usually would do on a moving day – move in – I took a shower, got dressed nice, and went to Manhattan for a party. Because even though it was moving day, every fiber of my soul wanted to go to this party.
It was not just any party. It was a surprise party that has been 6 months in the planning. A surprise party for Josh’s best friend Lee, who is a magnificent film sound mixer, and the warmest, funniest, mentshiest mentsh of all mentshes. A surprise party for which Lee’s friend and colleague Larry produced a film featuring Lee’s family, friends and colleagues, including people like Mike Leigh, Woody Allen, Julie Taymor, Barbara Koppel, and dozens of other directors and sound editors who, like Josh (who was also in the film) have mixed their films with Lee. It was not just any party. It was a party for someone so easy to love, so deeply kind and so profoundly warm, that it was easy to clean up from move-in day, ignore my aching – and I literally mean aching – feet, and celebrate this man.

And so I discovered that pure, selfish enjoyment can sometimes be in service to others – which should be an interesting nuance to explore over the year. (At least, I hope it’s nuance and not a slippery slope.) It brought me great joy to be in a room full of people who love this man as much as I do.

Extra bonus: one of Lee’s friends is friends with Roz Chast, who made a wonderful cartoon of Lee. (A guy sitting on his couch, and the coffee table is a mixing console, and the caption says: "Nerd in his natural habitat.") When I turned 25, and lived in a yurt in central Maine, a friend asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said I wanted to meet Roz Chast. I had never been to NYC, and had no connection to anyone who would have been able to introduce us. But I did have balls, so I called 411 and asked the operator for her number. And to my vast surprise, I got it. And I called her. And she answered. And she was super nice to me, and even chatted for a while, and thanked me for the letting her know how much I appreciated her work. Well guess who was at the party? And guess who I finally got to meet? She didn’t remember our phone call, but she chatted with me just as graciously as she did 25 years ago. And on the way home, I got to thinking about how I made that phone call back in 1988 out of pure, selfish, enjoyment.

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