Moving Day: A Dark Comedy for the Living

This is simply a story I had to share.

Earlier this week one of my oldest, dearest friends Steve reached out to me asking If I'd help him move furniture for an estate sale.  It was an excuse to make good conversation, a quick hundred bucks, and to get out of my cave for a few hours (I'm a bit of a shut-in these days).  I happily obliged.

Steve, a full-time pilot and part-time handyman, puttered up in his ancient and seemingly invincible Toyota pick-up truck.  On the way we caught up in the fashion of old friends. Quickly and enthusiastically.  No details necessary. 

We arrived at our destination a few minutes later.  It was a retirement home.  The man had died a few days earlier and we were moving his furniture to be sold at estate.

As we began our work, I was distracted by the various types of retirees passing through the halls.   There was the out of place strident gentleman with shirt pressed and shoulders broad, the fragile hunched man refusing a walker out of pride, and two chatty women, hell-bent for coffee in the recreation room.  

From behind me a woman yelled softly, as if she were speaking underwater.   "Is someone moving out?", she asked.   I paused, not sure how to respond..."YEP!",  I replied.  She smiled and went back into her room.

Steve and I went about our business.  I brought up my exchange with the woman, and the  way it made me squirm behind my eyes, as if she were my fourth grade teacher asking me to write something on the chalk board.  Steve hypothesized that perhaps "moving out" was just what people there called dying.  I agreed that might be true.

Moments later, we happened upon a resident nurse who asked the very same question, "Someone moving out?".  This time, I chuckled awkwardly and said, "yes mam".  "Where they moving to?", she asked.  That question struck me as funny in the way that David Lynch films do. I laughed and replied, "Not sure that's our call".  There was a brief, hearty laugh between the three of us after which Steve and I committed ourselves to a minute of silent laughter in the man's former bedroom.  

As we finished our work, I walked over to the phone and picked up the receiver.  The digital display read: 9 Missed Calls.   I thought about the timing and motivation for those calls.  Friends?  Family?  Was this a man who simply didn't answer the phone? Perhaps the truth was far more solemn.   Steve disconnected the base and the display went dark.   

As we left, we looked around to see if we'd missed anything.  I thought of all the times I'd moved on from a place. That last moment. Saying goodbye to a room.  Leaving  behind whatever demons found me there.  I wondered if the resident had said goodbye in a similar way, albeit,  from a vastly different threshold.

We departed, and as we walked down the brightly painted hallway, a woman rounded the corner in a wheel chair and asked, "Someone moving out?".


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