Even the Wrong Drawers are Right

I keep looking in the wrong drawers. They aren’t the wrong drawers in any existential sense. I mean, as a drawer, they’re perfectly right. They are drawers and drawers are what they are. They just lack qualifiers. And that’s the problem — we can’t just say, “Put it in the silverware drawer.” Because, so far, there is no “silverware drawer.” There are only names like, “To the left of the sink” and “I don’t know, baby, wherever you want to put it is fine by me.” And those just aren’t good names for drawers. It leads to a bit of the confusion. And so I keep opening the wrong drawers. Like when I want to find a spoon. Or the beer opener device. But I really don’t mind. Because they’re such awesome drawers. And opening them and closing them is actually kind of a beautiful thing. And yes, I’m surprised to find myself using the word “beautiful” as a way to describe the closing of a drawer. But I can’t help it. I like the way that these drawers don’t slam shut. Instead, they magically stop, just short of a slam, and then they sort of ease closed, nice and gentle. Like they’re making love to the countertop. Just a love tap is all it is, really. Nothing hateful. Because even though our house is from the 1940s, the kitchen is all 2006, love. And, oh man, we’ve lived in a pre-90s kitchen for long enough.

And so, as you may have guessed, we’re completely moved in. Which means we’re now residents of the great state of New Jersey. In fact, Monday it became official: we got our driver licenses. And since we never wound up doing that in Maryland, and since Hoshi still has her DC plates, it kind of feels like Baltimore never really happened. And I’m okay with that, honestly. I always sort of felt like a foreigner there. And so when people here ask me where I’m from, I don’t even mention that little post-industrial mecca of drugs, crime, potholes, and crazy people. I mention the diamond-shaped, 13 story tall, NPO-filled, power-political (yet ironically, non-represented) neighboring district just 50 miles south. (Which also happens to be in no short supply of drugs, crime, potholes, and crazy people.) Ahh. Yes, that one. Because in my head, I think maybe I’ll always be from DC. And, who knows, maybe I’ll actually reside there again someday.

But maybe not. Because, weird as it is for me to be saying this, I really dig it here in Jersey. Things are clicking here in ways they never did in DC . . . or Baltimore. First of all, the actual move was so smooth, I could have seen my reflection in it. It was that early-morning, only-boat-on-the-lake kind of smooth. The kind where you just throw your line in and watch the sun rise slowly and you just feel good in your gut and right with nature. If you ever need to move in NY or NJ, I’ve got the company for you. These guys were real pros. And since this was a relo (and we weren’t paying for it) we had them pack and unpack us and, let me tell you, that’s the way to go. These guys knew what they were doing. They packed and loaded us last Tuesday, then unloaded and unpacked us on Thursday. And Thursday night, after an early dinner, C and I even had time to get the bedroom somewhat organized. No wading through boxes looking for that one damn thing we needed but had no idea which brown, square, taped-up thing it was in. Because everything was all out and in plain sight. And so all we had to do was find a place for it. And put it there. And there are lots of places for putting things here.

But it’s not just the move that’s been smooth, brother. Or the kitchen. It’s everything. Like the way the JCC is so close and new and modern and it’s got all this great new equipment and, at the same time, is so reasonably-priced. And they even have a lounge, with a cafe and, get this, WiFi. Sorry Y at 17th and Rhode Island . . . this JCC has you beat.

But mostly it’s the people: The way the guys at the Mazda dealership call you “Buddy” and resurface Hoshi’s front rotors for free. The way the washer/dryer installers help you out with recommendations on a place to watch The Game on Sunday. The way the pregnant woman at the Shop Rite says to me, in her thick, slightly nasal, New Jersey accent, “Excuse me, very tall, un-pregnant man, could you reach that for me” as she points to the top shelf in the canned vegetable aisle. Then to C: “Do you mind if I borrow him for a second?” God, I wanted to kiss her.

Here, people have first names like Frank, Mario, and Sal. And last names that tend to end in “o” or “elli.” And even though they may still need to know how to spell my own last name, they don’t hesitate with the pronunciation of it, or remark on how they’ve never heard it before, as tends to happen in other parts of the States. They’re completely unimpressed, in fact. Because here, Italian last names are about as common as “Smith.” Here, the grocery stores stock dozens of brands of spaghetti sauce, not just Ragu or Newman’s Own. Here, you can’t drive five miles without running into a pizza joint.

This is the way the world should be. This is home.

And so I’m sitting here, my brain awash with blood and oxygen from my first workout at the JCC, the first good workout I’ve had since September, and marveling at how interesting it is to have my brain awash with something besides alcohol. (Did I mention I’ve started carrying a flask?) Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I keep opening the wrong drawers.

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