Take The Tents Down, Clean The Cages

My job is one of sprints and sojourns, the former usually coming at the beginning of one of my consulting engagements, the latter near the end. For some weeks now I have been more or less “idle” at work, cleaning up little messes and working on “wish list” items that really don’t have to be done. And this week came the inevitable, and expected: the contract in Columbus is being cut short, and I go home for good tomorrow.

So in addition to getting our young lady ready for university in the fall, I am thrust into another job search, which fortunately is going quite well. There is a good possibility that I will be working back in the Chicagoland area again for my upcoming engagement, reducing costs for the family and cutting down on travel for me. I am hopeful that things will work out for the best — shockingly, even when it doesn’t seem that way at first, they usually do.

But that doesn’t make the packing-up process in Columbus any less surreal.

I have intentionally made this small space uncomfortable: this is not “home,” and I never wanted to call it that or think of it that way. We have jokingly named the apartment, “Voglio Baciarti,” which means, “I want to kiss you” in Italian. Now my little hamster cage is being dismantled into piles: classified into “keep,” “pitch,” and “give away” in preparation for my departure tomorrow. The large furniture will have to wait for another day, as I only have a medium sized car with which to transport my Columbus debris back home.

So there is the pile of clothes; the pile of dishes; the pile of cookware; the pile of food; the food that will need to be refrigerated on the way home, still in the fridge; the things like the broom, iron, ironing board, and cleaning supplies; the things like paper towels, tin foil, Ziploc bags, and coffee filters.

How easily a life is deconstructed into its component parts, classified, packaged, and re-distributed across the miles. I feel like the M*A*S*H unit when they “bugged out.”

Of course, it’s just me now. Can’t wait to see my own version of Hot-Lips Houlihan when we both return home.

Wait: that makes me either Frank Burns or Col. Donald Penobscot. Forget it, never mind…

I have a dumpster at the ready, I have a pizza to eat (so as not to dirty any more dishes), and I have a headache. In 24 hours I will be on the road back to Chicagoland, and all but a few traces of my existence in Columbus will have disappeared. Can’t say I’m disappointed to leave, or that I will miss this place. The job and the people I work with have been great, but the town is the equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich on the menu of major cities: fine every once in a while, but you wouldn’t want to be faced with it every day.

Once again, the juggler’s balls are being thrown up into the air. We’ll be trying to catch and toss as best we can over the next several weeks, hoping to keep them from falling to the ground. With luck, soon this circus will move on to the lion tamer and the trapeze artists. But right now, it’s my turn to take the tents down and clean the cages.

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