Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Trek Eastward

We did not leave Minneapolis until Saturday, one day later than we had planned.

We decided to spend one additional day at home, since we had been running ourselves ragged, getting things ready for our departure, in the three days since we had returned from Britain.

As things turned out, we were pleased to be able to enjoy an extra day of rest at home before we set out on our long drive.

Josh and I and my middle brother left Minneapolis at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning and we arrived in New York at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The doorman of my older brother’s building was waiting for us, and he let us into the garage and he let us into my brother’s apartment.

My brother and my sister-in-law were asleep when we arrived, but our beds were waiting for us—my brother and my sister-in-law had already pulled out the sofas in the living room and had made them into beds. We hit the sack immediately.

By 8:00 a.m., we were up. My nephew rises at 7:30 a.m., and he saw us as soon as he came out of his bedroom Sunday morning. He was very excited, running around the living room, touching us and talking to us, telling us to get up. My older brother soon picked up my nephew and took him into the kitchen and tried to keep him quiet, but we could still hear my nephew say, over and over, “Why don’t they get up? Why don’t they get up? Why don’t they get up?”

Not long after, we did.

We did not do anything on Sunday other than play with my nephew and visit with my brother and my sister-in-law. We heard all about their visit to London, and they heard all about our visit to Southern England. We went to bed early, and we were asleep before 9:30 p.m.

We left New York at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning and headed for Boston.

We first stepped into our apartment Monday afternoon.

The location is the best feature of our apartment. It is in a safe and quiet neighborhood, and it is as conveniently located in relation to law school and in relation to my workplace in downtown Boston as we may expect.

The apartment is small: a living room and a kitchen, with a half-wall dividing the two; a bedroom; two small closets; and a bath.

There is only one window. The window is in the living room, and the lack of windows makes the rest of the apartment sort of gloomy.

The ceilings are also low, which gives the apartment a cramped feeling.

Josh and I and my middle brother gave the place a quick look over, and we immediately left. We set out to find a nearby food store where we could buy food and household cleaning products.

When we had picked up what we needed, we returned to the apartment and spent the rest of the day giving everything a solid cleaning and polishing. We worked until midnight, when we went to bed for the night on the living room floor.

Today we rose early and continued to clean the apartment until the entire apartment was spotless. Once everything was clean, we went to a home improvement center to select paint, to pick up a few other things, and to rent a carpet cleaner.

The apartment does not require painting, but we decided to paint it anyway. We chose a brilliant shade of white in hopes that this brilliant shade of white will brighten the place up a bit. From what we have managed to paint this afternoon and evening, it seems to be doing the trick.

We shall complete our painting job tomorrow, after which we will give the carpeting a deep cleaning and leave the apartment and check into a hotel for one night in order to allow the carpeting to dry. We will pick a hotel with a pool.

Josh’s orientation begins on Thursday morning and continues through Friday night, so my brother and I will use those two days to shop for and assemble furniture.

All day today, while we worked, Josh and I discussed furniture for the apartment, and we have more or less settled upon what we plan to buy.

For the kitchen, we plan to buy only a table and chairs.

For the bedroom, we plan to buy a bed, but nothing else, at least for now.

For the living room, we plan to buy an integrated desk/computer table/sound system unit and two chairs, a three-unit set of bookshelves, a sofa and two end tables. We also will buy a sound system, but we plan to buy nothing more than a basic sound system, since we left a magnificent sound system back in our old apartment in Edina for my brother’s use.

Josh and I agreed that, if we are to live here for three years, the apartment needs all the help it can get. Consequently, Josh and I decided to buy new furniture, not used furniture. We hope to be able to find what we need at a Scandinavian furniture store, and we hope it does not cost us too much money.

Josh and I decided that the one thing we need to splurge on is, of all things, lamps—beautiful, colorful, well-designed lamps. We have decided to buy four lamps for the living room: one with a cut-crystal base, one with a deep-rose porcelain base, one with a deep-blue porcelain base, and one with a painted Chinese porcelain base. Between four beautiful lamps in the living room and the lights in the kitchen, the apartment should acquire some brilliance and color when all the lights are turned on.

We hope that we will be able to get everything picked out, purchased, delivered and assembled on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Our wish is to have the apartment fully habitable and fully presentable no later than Saturday evening (and we do not want to have to sleep on the floor any more nights than absolutely necessary).

On Sunday, my parents and my older brother’s family will drive up from New York to visit us, to inspect our living quarters, and to take my middle brother back with them when they leave.

On Monday, Josh and I plan to relax and get settled in. On Tuesday, Josh’s classes begin and I start my new job.

Josh and I have been enormously thankful that my middle brother has devoted a full week to helping us get settled in Boston. He, too, starts a new job on Tuesday, and I suspect that he would much rather have spent his final week of leisure time up at the lake, relaxing and swimming, instead of accompanying Josh and me East and involving himself in housecleaning, painting, assembling furniture and other tedious tasks.

He has been great company and he has been a great help to us. As always, he has been a great brother.

I owe him.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Well . . .

We're in Boston.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We returned yesterday afternoon.

The very minute we were dropped at home, my father and I jumped in the car and went to retrieve the dog. The dog went berserk when he saw us—he literally ran in circles and jumped endlessly all over us—and it took us thirty minutes to settle him down enough so that we could bring him home.

When he arrived home, he went berserk a second time, running in circles around the back yard and jumping all over my mother, my brother, Josh and Josh’s sister for a full twenty minutes.

He’s quite a guy.

I think he may have been glad to be back home!

This morning we took Josh’s sister to the airport for her flight home. She arrived home safely late this afternoon. Her parents were immensely pleased to see her for the first time in three weeks and two days. Alas, they will not have her at home for long—early next week, they will take her away for her freshman year of college.

This afternoon Josh and I made a couple of trips to the Post Office to mail boxes of belongings to Boston. The boxes contained cookware and dinnerware, linens and bath cloths, a computer, and other things we will need in Boston. All of the things belong to my brother—the boxes contained his belongings from Denver, which we packed over Memorial Day weekend and shipped to Minneapolis, where they have remained, unopened, ever since. We simply placed new shipping labels on the boxes and forwarded them to the East. This had been planned back in early May in order to make his move to Minneapolis and our move to Boston as simple as possible. My brother recently assumed our apartment and its belongings, and Josh and I will now assume his belongings, at least for the next three years. Two complicated cross-country moves involving three persons, accomplished by shipping a single set of household effects: I think that was a pretty efficient way to handle things.

Tomorrow night we will give my mother a delayed birthday dinner. Her birthday occurred while we were in Britain. We gave her a lovely dinner that night, but tomorrow tonight we will officially mark the occasion.

We shall give her a dinner of avocado-tomato salad, chicken breasts baked in a cream sauce, wild rice, glazed carrots, steamed broccoli, butternut squash and a cranberry-apple salad. For her birthday cake, she will get a seven-layer chocolate cake, made with several different kinds of chocolate. Each layer is slightly different, and each of the layers has a unique filling. The cake takes hours to prepare, but the end result is well worth the effort. Before we cut the cake, we will give my mother her birthday gifts.

We will give my mother the best possible birthday celebration. For her, the evening will be tinged with sadness, because Josh and I will head East the very next morning.

We plan to leave at 3:00 a.m., because we will drive straight through to New York without stopping. If there are no hitches, we should arrive in New York around midnight local time the same night. If there are hitches, we will arrive considerably later.

My middle brother will accompany us. This will give us three persons to share the driving burden. We will take our own food with us in order that we need stop only for fuel. We will gather food for the trip tomorrow afternoon and evening: sandwiches, snacks, fruit, cookies and juices. We will prepare thermoses of milk and coffee early Friday morning. We also have our listening organized for the trip: music of Kurt Weill, which my brother especially likes; and an unabridged book on tape, John Lukacs’s classic 1991 study, “The Duel—10 May To 31 July 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill And Hitler”. Between the Kurt Weill music discs and the John Lukacs book discs, we should be amply entertained not only all the way to New York but over much of the subsequent week as well.

We three will spend Saturday and Sunday in New York, visiting with my older brother and his family (who themselves recently returned from London). On Monday morning, we will drive up to Boston. My middle brother will accompany Josh and me to Massachusetts—he will spend our first week in Boston with us. He will help us clean our apartment (and paint it, if necessary), help us unpack the boxes we shipped today, and assist us in locating second-hand furniture that will get Josh and me through the next three years. It will be good to have his companionship and assistance.

We hope to have everything in our new apartment arranged no later than next Saturday.

Over Labor Day weekend, my parents will fly to New York to visit with my older brother and his family. On that Sunday, they all plan to drive up from New York to Boston to see for themselves where Josh and I will be living. When they return to New York late Sunday afternoon or early Sunday evening, they will take my middle brother back with them, and Josh and I will be on our own.

We will be on our own, but we will not be alone.

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

--W. S. Merwin