Saturday, December 26, 2009

It Takes Two. Really?

Dear Pottery Barn,

Greetings from my new home in Flagstaff, AZ. Yep, that’s me, gleefully crossing the border into Arizona, nearing my final destination after approximately 2,500 miles of driving with my good friend, Jeff. Thank goodness he volunteered to come along—I was all set to do it alone. That would’ve been a long haul.

Why Flagstaff? There are a few reasons, none of which are terribly earth shattering. It’s there, it’s beautiful, the people seem nice, and I think I can eventually make a happy life for myself for a while…or maybe forever. Who knows? But you see, Pottery Barn, I’ve gotten this question a lot. In my estimation, 93.4 percent of the time, it has been immediately followed in rapid-fire succession with: Is there a boyfriend there? Are you moving for a job?

The answer to both those queries is a definitive “no.” For the record, I make a decent living as a freelance writer, which I can do anywhere I please. And, sadly, most folks just don’t know what to do with that. Why the heck would a single lady move the whole way across the country to some mountain town, where she knows next to nobody, for no other reason than to give it a try?

Because I can and I want to. And if both those things are true, then I don’t see any rational reason to wait until there’s a man or a job or a ready-made group of friends to legitimize the decision. I could either spend the rest of my life on the East Coast wondering what it would be like to live out west, or I could live out west and find out. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

I’m not a bitter woman. I haven’t watched too many episodes of Sex and the City. OK, that’s probably a lie. I have, but I promise I’m not jaded. I’ve had good relationships, none of which turned out to be Prince Charming. Maybe he’s out there. But I’m not going to sit around waiting for him to show up so I can get on with the rest of my life. I’d miss out on a lot of fun if I did.

As such, I’ve learned to do all sorts of things myself. All by myself. Like, I figured out which new SUV to buy, then I hitched a U-Haul trailer to it. With my own two hands. I drove it home and backed it into a garage. Have you ever backed a trailer into a garage—or even just a parking space—Pottery Barn? It’s not easy. I loaded that trailer up with furniture and boxes that weighed a lot more than I do. Alone. And when a blizzard dumped 2-feet of snow on Flagstaff within 48 hours of moving in, I shoveled it. Numerous times. I have forged on with my Boston Marathon training schedule, despite not making friends with the 7,000 new feet of altitude in my life. A few days after the blizzard, I completed my first long run, battling ice, snow, 30 MPH headwinds, and more than a couple of hills. I admit, I was dangerously close to tears during the first mile, wondering why I had willingly made my life so difficult in so many ways. It all seemed like it was finally too much to handle all by myself. But then I hit the halfway point, turned around, and felt the wind at my back. It would be OK. I even figured out how to install new toilet seats later that day, after I lugged a coffee table up a flight of stairs.

Here’s the thing, though, Pottery Barn. I was really excited when my new desk showed up, right on time, with your logo emblazoned on four boxes, each bigger than myself. UPS dropped them off on my driveway. I shoved them into my garage and let them sit there for a few days, trying to decide how, exactly, I’d be able to get that new desk into my new house. Had I reached the final stop on my lifelong independent streak? I thought I had. Those boxes weren’t just big, they were also really heavy. And, honestly, I’ve started feeling a little exhausted.

Then one night, I mustered the energy and I spent the better part of the evening wrestling everything out of the boxes and into my new office. A few new bumps and bruises later, I was almost finished. Until the directions you included slipped out of the last box. And there it was: “It takes TWO to assemble this furniture,” the piece of paper declared, followed by a nice graphic of a couple of folks putting my desk together.

I wondered who that other person was in the picture. Maybe it was somebody I hadn’t met yet. My new best friend? The man of my dreams? A friendly neighbor? The possibilities were endless, but the truth remained: whoever that nice, helpful person was, he wasn’t going to show up that night…or maybe even in the next six months. Inspired to write my way to fame and fortune on that desk (or at least make enough to pay the rent), I hoisted the top of it to its rightful place and finished the job that I had started.

Please don’t misunderstand, Pottery Barn. I have the best friends and family a girl could ever ask for—they make it impossible to ever feel true loneliness. It’s just that 99 percent of them don’t happen to live within 3,000 miles of my house. But they send me endless love and support no matter where I go or what whacky thing I decide to try next. It’s precisely where my strength and courage comes from, of course.

Alas, this world is designed for two, Pottery Barn, and I know that it’s not your fault. I agree that when the stars align, life is usually more fun that way. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to find that guy in the picture. He looks kind. And stronger than me. In the meantime, maybe you could include an addendum or disclaimer to those instructions, for those of us who find ourselves alone every now and then. It only takes one person to put that desk together. One with determination, a healthy sense of humor, and a certain amount of confidence that she’ll look back on this time in her life and know it is precisely when she was finally convinced, without a doubt, that she is capable of anything.

Thanks, Pottery Barn.
Erin S.



JamelMurf said...

Happy New Year~~!!!............................................................

Javier said...

GREAT POST! Its funny I am sort of going through a life change of my own at the moment. For different reasons. But let me tell you, 1 is better than 2, if they are the wrong 2.

Congrats on your new adventure!

Strouter said...

Thanks, Javier -- I know that changes are tough (believe me, I KNOW!), but they are also bring opportunities. I hope to catch up with you in NY when I visit the East Coast in April!!