One of the many fascinating “intern” (read: trained monkey) duties I have at my current job is sorting and categorizing electronic documents pertaining to the shipment of people’s household goods to Asia. There are lots of complicated forms and specific requirements involved in insuring your favorite pair of socks make it to Japan, and when you’re shipping more than socks, things get even more complicated. Sometimes to entertain myself I read the inventory of people’s items, hoping to find something obscene or generally peculiar. I haven’t yet come across any sex-toy line items, but I remain hopeful. Some people fill 10 lines of a page – traveling with nothing but clothes and the shoes on their feet, while other people have 30 lines filled on each of 17 pages.
The ones with several pages of inventory tend to be those with dependents – wives, and usually more than a couple children. These family shipments fill entire crates with diapers, and having been an international vagabond myself, I understand the rationality behind that – not that I needed diapers (fortunately), but I remember the frustrated feeling of not being able to find a product so common to you as Peanut Butter. (seriously… try finding peanut butter in Italy. Impossible). Families tend to bring a lot of things – cribs, high-chairs, etc., for the most part because they need them. The more people who are traveling, the more stuff they have. It’s logical, and I understand.
I suppose I can even understand people who bring their motorcycles. Sure they are ridiculously complicated to transport (and get through customs), but they are probably the least complicated way to obtain transportation for oneself in a foreign land, which is not an unfounded desire. Plus, a single man (or woman, for that matter) can cruise around wherever they like on their bike, impressing locals and coworkers, and secure more than just transportation. Again, I get it.
What’s the weirdest thing I’ve even seen being shipped? (and weirder because I’ve seen it more than once…) A piano. Why in heaven’s name would someone move for a temporary assignment overseas and bring a fucking piano.
Ok. So it’s pretty, and it makes you smile. There is probably some sentimental attachment and it may be something that’s been around for a while. When you play it you may feel familiar, and it’s chords might warm your heart when you are sad and lonely – thousands of mile away from everything you know. BUT. Shipping a piano across an ocean is an ordeal. The careful packaging to make sure it doesn’t get broken, ensuring that the actual shipping process is appropriately delicate (practically a contradiction in terms), is plus it’s expensive as hell. Not to mention if you do manage to get your piano all the the way to Japan without it getting it smashed or withheld by customs, it’s going to be so disgustingly out of tune that by the time you get it you won’t even recognize its sound.
One evening this week, she and I were on the phone talking, but not about pianos. We were talking about my haircut (which she said she liked) and me (who I said was calm). Do you realize, she asked, that you just said you are calm? When have you ever been calm? And I laughed, knowing full well it had been at least four years – since before she knew me, or knew my soul at least. The last time I was called calm was the Homecoming football game I came back to at my high school during my Freshman year of college. An old teacher and I were chatting and he lost his words mid-sentence. You look like you’re doing so well – you look so calm. He said it and I never forgot it. I felt so much accomplishment, so much contentment, so much more that almost anything else could make me feel.
Now I feel the same, and I guess that’s why I wanted to cut my hair. A big life change ought to bear some physical effects as well, I guess. I replied. Yes, she said, thinking like she does so well. And you had a lot of hair. That’s a lot of room to hide a lot of baggage. It just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.
I’m still wondering why the hell move with pianos. It strikes a chord. I’m lighting a candle; I strike a match. Cut your losses. Cut your hair. Cut the cord.
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson