Yesterday started with such promise. I had found a desk and hutch on freecycle.org that was just what I’d been looking for — and of course, it was free. We borrowed a friend’s trailer and arrived to pick the desk up shortly after 8 a.m. It was already getting hot outside but all we had to do was load and go, which we figured wouldn’t take long.
The desk was beautiful, practically new. It wasn’t real wood, just particle board and veneer, but in great shape. It was sitting at the bottom of a steep driveway, so at first we thought we’d leave the trailer parked at the top of the driveway and carry the desk and hutch up. However, the owner hadn’t been able to detach the hutch, and together they weighed
a ton more than we’d ever be able to carry that distance. After a few false starts, Mike maneuvered our borrowed trailer down the 45-degree incline and parked as close to the house as he could get.
It took three of us to wrestle the beast down the steps from the porch to the patio, up a couple more steps to the driveway, and onto the trailer. Since we had to transport it as one big piece, Mike spent another half hour securing it with straps. Then we drove v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y back down the hill to our house and called our son to help us move it inside.
I was nearly useless throughout this process. I am a fairly fit woman and still could not carry one end of this desk by myself. I could make suggestions, though, which everyone always enjoys, particularly when they’re working hard in the heat and I’m not. I also did a great job of propping the door open and keeping the dogs out from underfoot. By now, we’d been dealing with this project for almost two hours.
In order to get the desk/hutch combo into Mike’s new office, we decided to tip the thing on end so it would fit through the doorway. Sam lifted the other end and Mike readied himself to set the piece down on its side. Maybe we should’ve thought longer about shifting all the weight of the hutch and desk onto one edge of particle board, but none of us did — until the side of the desk snapped under the strain and the whole thing collapsed.
There is no fixing broken particle board, so we went from major score to junk in seconds. It was such a shock, I couldn’t even swear. In fact, I couldn’t speak. It was like the time one of the boys was learning to drive, and while pulling into the carport, he hit one of the supporting posts — with his dad sitting next to him in the car. Then he tried to back up and in the process, pulled the front bumper off — with his dad still in the car. That day, I went for a long walk. When the desk went down, I drove to the Y and got on the hated treadmill, listening to the voice in my head that thinks I should be able to foresee every misstep, every possible rotten outcome, and blames me when I can’t. You should’ve seen that coming, it said.
Shut up, I told it.
Blame, even self-blame, is so tempting. It helps us make order out of chaotic events, and we like that. That’s why some people have been able to make lengthy public careers out of finger-pointing. But being able to analyze in retrospect why something bad happened is not the same as being able to predict it in advance. If we had this move to do over again, now we would know that a particle board desk + hutch = too much weight for that maneuver. But we didn’t. By the time I’d worked up a good sweat at the Y, I was over it. So I granted myself absolution, then went home and did the same for Mike. Shit happens. This time it happened to a very nice free desk.
Later that day we had a couple of tea lights burning while we watched a movie. We do this not for romantic ambiance but in defense against the dogs, who can be — what’s a nice word? — gassy. Toxic. Think “weapons of mass destruction.” At a particularly noxious moment, Mike picked up one of the tea lights and tried to move it closer to the offending dog.
“Dammit,” he said suddenly.
“Please tell me you didn’t just spill wax on the ottoman.”
“I wish I could,” he said.
Google to the rescue again. According to the results of my search, lots of husbands, as well as male friends and offspring, spill candle wax on microfiber upholstery so there’s an abundance of helpful information available. (Mike said he didn’t know whether to feel better about that or to be embarrassed for his entire gender.) It took about an hour to get most of the wax out and I wasn’t going to do anything important with that time anyway.
As we were getting ready to fall asleep last night, I rolled toward Mike and patted him on the shoulder.
“Today was a really stupid day. Let’s not have another one like this for awhile.”