awaiting deliverance

It feels like I've been waiting forever. Waiting for my sofa to be delivered, for one thing. It's been almost two weeks now since I purchased it; that moment had seemed like the culmination of a long and arduous search to find the right sofa, the best deal. Once I'd found it, I thought my work was done. I'm learning not to assume that. Wait until delivery.

The sofa was supposed to come last Friday -- I even took a day off of work -- but the truck broke down. It was then supposed to come on Sunday, but they "forgot it" at the warehouse. And now it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. We'll see. The extension of this process is emblematic of where I am right now. I've latched onto this sofa as if it were a liferaft. Clinging to its bulk, climbing up into it, I assume, is what will save me from the sea of liminality in which I'm currently treading water.

The two weeks' wait has lowered my expectations, though. Even if the sofa does arrive as scheduled tomorrow, what is that really going to change? It will fill up space in our living room. It will give me someplace to sit and sprawl out on. But, in the course of setting up this apartment, every time I accomplish something, every time I cross another item off the list, I let out a deep sigh of relief and then realize that five other things have arisen in the interim that need to be taken care of. Things that hadn't even been on the list when I started. In the weeks I was waiting for the sofa, I realized that I needed wall shelving, a larger mirror, a new comforter, a bedside lamp. Will I be able to get all those things this weekend and get them set up? Realistically, the answer is no. More and more waiting, more and more transitionality.

It's been going on and on now, to the degree that I can't even remember what it felt like to be settled, to walk by a housewares or furntiture store and not think, "Oh, I'd better stop in there and see if there's anything else I need." My inner monologue is a never-ending calculus of when and where I can get the next item to advance "Operation: Domestic Bliss." I make advances and I fall behind. Two steps forward, one step back. There is progress, but still the final point seems obscure.

Are other people this end-result-fixated? Somehow I don't think so. Most people I know who've moved don't seem to look upon the process with the attitude that I seem to, an attitude more appropriate for a journey across the country in a Connestoga wagon. "How far along am I?" is my constant question. "Am I almost there yet?"

Which leads me, as it inevitably does, to ask why I think and feel this way. Why does the prospect of a housewarming party -- an occasion that will ostensibly mark the point at which I say, "The move is complete, this is my new house" -- why does that seem like an occasion of profound significance? Will it be this weekend or will it have to wait a whole week longer?? I am truly obsessed with the idea of introducing people to my new home, but paranoid that no one should see it until it has been fully established the way I want it to be. Like a painter fussily dabbing his canvas, I want everything to be just so because I have internalized this sense that somehow I am being judged on this apartment. Judged by whom? By my former housemates probably -- have I moved up a rung on the social ladder? By the infamous Helmut, who scoffed so famously at my previous quarters. "This'll show him!" I think to myself whenever I pay more than I probably should for some shoe rack or other item at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I want the agony to end and yet I am terrified of completing it because that means announcing, "This is the best I could do."

All the while that I wait, a parallel process is becoming more and more extended. Soon before I moved dealings with a new boy began; we met finally at the end of my first week here and (I thought) hit it off. Since then, though, my attempts to get together again have been met not with disinterest but rather with prolongation. Because of his schedule (he's a senior in college -- I know, I know, I don't need the eye-rolling, please!) and because his brother was in town and because of a hundred other things in both our lives it's been two weeks since we last met. But two weeks spent in quite infrequent communication. No surplus of flirty text messages or emails to keep the flame burning. Days lapse between responses; they feel like signposts on my Westward journey. They are always positive, though, and they allude to a desire to get together again soon, but there's no motion to rush into anything (certainly not my bed).

I can't really explain my faith in this extended courtship. There's something about what happens between us that seems definite (as the delivery of the sofa seems definite, even though I can't be sure which day it will finally arrive). Each time I despair of hearing back, I get another missive, another suggestion that we meet at this time a few days hence. I almost feel as if my intentions are being tested: what am I after? Can I stick it out to the bitter end? The benefit of all this prolongation, of course, is that it gives me more time to set up my apartment. It's not as if I'm sitting by the phone waiting for him to call (I have nowhere to sit, after all!). When he does finally come over here, he's going to see not some thrown-together space but a reflection of me, an environment in which every detail has been deliberately chosen.

And that's kind of scary. What is this mania with getting everything right? Why this steadfastness for a boy whom I've only met and made out with only once? Perhaps they both stem from the fact that I'm not getting any younger and what I long for is stability, permanence. An apartment that I've invested time and money in, where things are nailed to the walls. A boyfriend who's gonna stick, who's gonna fit into this apartment and become a part of it. That's what's underneath these twin anxieties, a longing to finally get the full shipment delivered, to get the whole set, everything, and to no longer be perpetually anticipating love and commitment, no longer traipsing over to the apartments of boys I'm hooking up with so that I can sleep in their beds and leave the next morning in the same clothes I came in with. I want a place of my own where I can stay in and someone who'll stay in with me.

This is probably not healthy. It's definitely competitive -- competitive with Helmut, for one (he and the boy went to the same school and know each other... again, no eye-rolling!), but also competitive with the world in general, with my co-workers and with all those people I know who seem permanently paired off. It's unhealthy to be driven to that extent by competition, but I will no longer deny it! I want people to come over to my housewarming party and stand with mouths agape at how well thought out the place is, how homely it seems. I want them to envy this life, this stability of mine. Because only then will it seem like that stability has finally arrived.


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