So here's a fun thing about the Boston area: Because higher education is quite possibly the city's #1 industry, nearly every lease runs from September to August, with September First not actually labeled as "Moving Day" with capital letters on the calendar, but certainly thought of that way. The week around that date, particularly the preceding weekend, August 31st, and September 1st itself, are traffic nightmares because every U-haul, moving van, and other vehicle that can carry cargo, right down to horse trailers, is sucked into the city as if by some sort of vortex. And if you happen to be a reasonably fit guy in his mid-twenties, guess what you're going to be doing for that span, especially if you're between jobs?
It could be worse. There's pizza and beer at the end of the day, and scoping out the stuff you're moving from point A to point B is a pretty decent way to get at least a small measure of the friends you've inherited. And while the "pay" isn't great, it feels better to actually be doing something than just filling out job applications, feeling like you'll get rejected for things that are way below your ambitions.
On the other hand, it's an awesomely masculine thing to be doing. Sure, I've been a guy for over a year, but as Ravi, I always thought I was going to get my vagina back, and he wasn't the guy people called on for stuff like this - he helped hook up your new stereo, or did detail-oriented work, but pure hauling-things-around wasn't his thing, and it didn't really occur to me to volunteer. Now, though, I've already been volunteered - Ronan said "sure, I'll help you move if I'm still in town" to one of the guys at "Benny's" job before giving his notice. So I spent Saturday helping him get a truck all loaded up, driving across the river, and then unpacking it.
Fun times. Did you know that Cambridge wants you to get some sort of permit ahead of time so that you can have "No Parking" signs put up (or defy the ones that are already there)? I didn't, neither did Joe, so he wound up with a ticket.
I felt like I should have been pretty exhausted by the end of the day - and, to be fair, I did come right back "home" after being treated to a pretty decent pizza and just chilled for the night - but my first reaction was to marvel about how feeling sore could actually be kind of pleasant, and also to look at the newly-filled apartment and think, holy shit, look at what we just did! I don't think it's specifically a guy thing to get really excited over having accomplished something practical and physical like that, but you set more opportunities.
Like, Monday and Tuesday, when I got pulled into helping flatmate J.K. (he's the intern) move his girlfriend into her new place. Apparently, she and her roommate had been living in the same place since sophomore year - and would have happily continued doing so if the landlord didn't tell them that they were being kicked out at the end of their lease so that the place could be renovated enough to double the rent - and they have accumulated a lot of crap in that time, way more than would fit into their smaller and less open new one. I guess estimating is something folks tend to learn on their first move without parents, and theirs were on the other side of the country. They hadn't even begun packing when J.K. and I arrived on Monday, and they had rented the smallest U-haul in Massachusetts.
(Not that I will necessarily do much better when I move in a way that doesn't involve leaving one bag behind, grabbing another, and parachuting into a place where things are already set up.)
Not that I defended them at the end of the day when J.K. looked at me and said "chicks, right?" Hauling stuff is satisfying when you feel like you're accomplishing something, but when you're waiting around and trying to get the people you've helping to focus, having things drag into a second day when he had to worry about the impression he was making at work... well, it kind of sucks.
And after that, they wanted to partake in "Allston Christmas", which is apparently what they call students (and others) leaving stuff that they can't be bothered to take with them on the sidewalk for anybody to claim. Not that they wanted to leave thing, noooo... they saw some really nice bookshelves!
Did I mention that they were on the third floor? J.K. and his girlfriend owe me.
And, in between, there was Missy.
(She doesn't really like that name, but she's not exactly fond of me trying to pronounce "Yuan-wei", either, and since Ronan always called his girlfriend "Missy". I'm allowed.)
Her flight arrived Sunday morning, and while it was pretty clear from what she'd seen so far that she could spring for a cab (or limo), she's still a New Yorker at heart, and would rather get familiar with public transportation options, and figured she could use some help.
I got to the airport plenty early and hung out around her terminal, watching for her, but didn't spot her until she walked up behind me and tapped my shoulder. I turned around and did a little girly squeal when I saw her. "Spin around!" I said, with matching finger motion.
Somehow, she managed to both scowl and smile. I'd been expecting to see a lot more "Jordan", not really making an effort to be much more than comfortable. Instead - well, her make-up wasn't flawless, but it wasn't awful by any means. Her hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail, but one of those ones that just looks better on Asian girls with their silky hair than any I've ever had. Her outfit, though, was just super-cute! It looked like a dress at first glance, but if she twisted or bent the right way, you'd see that it was two pieces from the midriff that showed up. The skirt went down to mid-thigh, showing some pretty great leg, and while the top didn't display any cleavage, it stopped just short, and you could see a pretty good hint of her shape. Cool blue-and-black tartan pattern, too!
Oh, and her shoes! Chunky platform sandals whose thongs were little silver chains, just loose enough to jingle a little even though there was no danger of them falling off her feet. She even had her toenails painted to match the dress. She had a little trouble turning in place with three inches of shoe under her heel compared to the half-inch under her toes, but she didn't fall over.
I was impressed. "I can't believe you got all dressed up for me!"
She gave me a cute smile. "Typical man, assuming that when a girl chooses to look nice, it's for his benefit."
I laughed, big, and hugged her. "Typical woman, unable to accept a compliment!" We both laughed, and I stepped back a step and made sure I was looking at her face rather than what she was wearing. "This is going to be fun, right? Not sad or scary, but fun."
"That's what I'm hoping. As to the clothes, it appears that this pretty upper-class Chinese girl has pretty upper-class Chinese girlfriends, and when they had Yuan-wei home for a few days, all they could think of doing was shopping." She pushed a suitcase that was a LOT bigger than the carry-on she had left and returned with at me. "And those girls can shop!"
Sucker was heavy. "You don't seem half-bad at it yourself."
"I am apparently weak when attractive women tell me I'm sexy in an outfit. The urge to sleep with them is fairly weak, but, damn, their praise means something, and it's kind of fun to be in a changing room with them. Is that weird?"
I shrugged and started leading the way to the Silver Line. "What isn't with us? I mean, there were pretty girls in high school I wanted to like me, and I didn't have memories of an urge to screw 'em. Doesn't explain how you're dressed today, though."
"It's pretty comfortable, and these shoes get me a little taller without heels that look like they'll break off. And, hey, I've got to look in the mirror."
Compared to New York, the Boston subway is pretty easy, although wrestling Missy's new wardrobe from the Silver Line to the Red line at South Station, and then to Green-Line-C at Park street, didn't necessarily make it feel that way. Then there was a bit of away to roll it up Beacon until we got to the side street with her building.
Which was gorgeous, and that's just talking about the outside. When we actually found her unit, my jaw dropped. Two bedrooms, high ceilings, tons of space, decorated nicely but still looking like someone my age lived there...
"Ho-leee shit!" Missy just mouthed something that looked like "fuuuuuck!", and we both sort of waked around the living room and poked our heads into other areas in what was a sort of daze. "Man, I should have taken some sort of online Chinese course or something."
"Yeah, although...This is fucking ridiculous. I mean..."
He couldn't say what he meant, but I got it. You never hear of the Inn just presenting you all this on a platter, or someone walking away from it. As weird as my own situation is, Jordan/Missy is in another world altogether.
We sort of rummaged around, learning where the real Missy had kept all the important stuff and where to put all of her new clothes (not really a problem, as there is plenty of closet space). Sunday was a pretty good day to find the trash room and laundry and such. We started to scope out what the nearest restaurants and convenience stores looked like, but it got crowded in a hurry - a lot of other people, BU students and otherwise, also getting settled. This close to Fenway, we were pretty lucky that it wasn't a game day.
Plus. while I was leading her around, I kind of forgot that she must have been incredibly jet-lagged, at least until she felt her knees start to buckle in Bed Bath & Beyond. I got her back home and into bed. "Now, you set a good night's sleep; it's your first day of school tomorrow."
She smiled at the silliness of that but passed out petty quickly, not really picking up any envy that I felt as she did. She was going to college - again - while I was going to be helping the girlfriend of a guy I just met move.
Exciting new adventures.