How was I to manage the day to day logistics of the clean out? I tried to fashion from the first couple days of chaos a routine.
I knew I had to eat well and didn’t want to spend take-out money. My plan was, when I was home, to boil a box of spaghetti, cook a pot of sauce and take enough to feed me each day.
Wake up time was projected to be 4 AM, which theoretically gave me time to work out, cook and eat breakfast, then hit the road by 6 AM.
The 6 AM start to the 80-mile commute should have been early enough to beat most rush hour traffic and get me into New York City some time around 8 AM.
I had to pick up the relatives once I made it to the Bronx. I would call one or more while on the George Washington Bridge to give them time to get ready. There were typically two to three stops in various neighborhoods. Nothing too crazy, but local traffic added 45 minutes to the trip.
We would finally get to my grandmother’s building. My relatives would hop out of the minivan, find the building’s superintendent and go to the apartment. I was left the unenviable task of finding parking, which could take up to 30 minutes with walking.
I’d arrive at the apartment to find my relatives fully engaged in wading through my grandmother’s things. I was often indecisiveness about what I should tackle first, but once I made up my mind, I’d go all in.
Wrap up time was between 4 and 7 PM. The relatives selected the things they wanted to take with them on a given day, we loaded the minivan and we’d be off on the daily farewell tour. At each stop, there was the unloading of the parcels and the good night wishes.
Pennsylvania was to be the final stop. Relatives did offer to put me up for the night, but I knew I could only find peace in my own home. I needed this to be able to sleep, even if only for a few hours.
If only every day went according to plan. The reality was that 1,000 minor details conspired daily to disrupt any semblance of routine. The days typically spanned over 12 hours. I was getting home after 10 PM. I usually need two hours at home before I can fall asleep. A 4 AM wake-up after a few hours of deep sleep proved more aspiration than actuality. Waking up any time later than 4 AM virtually assured that my carefully laid out plans were wrecked.
Avalanches gain momentum as they roll down hill. An 8 AM start to my commute, for example, guaranteed a 3-hour nightmare in bumper-to-bumper traffic, a 11 AM arrival in New York, a 12 PM arrival at my grandmother’s place, a 12:30 PM start to an abbreviated working day and a restless night that would surely eat into the next day. This is not speculation. It happened. Twice.
Regardless, I kept trying to stay on track. I am nothing if not persistent.