Albums wear less well than the mover

by Amy Kingsley

I’m squatting in front of my stereo in a blanket of light, among the dust bunnies and broken hair bands, sifting through my record collection. My cats have done a number on it, having decided years ago the stack of cardboard sleeves makes a perfect scratching post. Thanks to their handiwork, several albums have slid across the floor, and the others are frayed to feathery pulp. I haven’t added anything to this collection in the past two and a half years. Which is a good thing, right now, since I’m boxing them up for the move into my new house. In January 2005, the records and I moved into this spacious, hardwood room on the far end of a stately Glenwood home divided into up- and downstairs apartments. I remember moving the records in particular because they were heavy. They always have been, ever since I first started collecting them in high school, decades after they ceased being available in chain record stores. There was a time when I was pretty proud of these records, especially the audiophile-grade, 180-gram vinyl limited editions of Elliot Smith and Rex. Back then I was such a gleeful late adopter that I was just shy of retro. Now I wish I had something lighter – like an iPod – that would make it easier to haul all my music to the new place. After I box the records, I’ll be moving on to the closet, where I’ll sort out the clothes I haven’t worn for two or more years and send them to Goodwill. Reorganizing my CD collection comes next – matching orphaned CDs to jewel cases and untangling my music from my boyfriend’s. This last exercise is the one that’s got Mark most concerned. We’ve been dating since I moved back to Greensboro – and into this house. These days, we’re inching toward commitment. Last April he moved into the third bedroom of the apartment I shared with a roommate, Noah, and in our next house we’ll be sharing a bedroom. Mark is putting his foot down at the commingling of music collections. We get the master bedroom. Noah, who will be moving with us, scoped out a space in the finished attic large enough to accommodate both him and his art. Our new house is beautiful: a Queen Anne built in the late 1920s with a wraparound porch and privet hedges. You can step through the casement windows in the attic onto a steep roof where previous tenants nailed a two-by-two bumper. But I’m going to miss this old house. It’s a good size – with the finished basement, it’s a large enough universe for three human orbits. The kitchen is our de facto social space, big and airy, with a sink window frequented by robins and wolf spiders. Our paths cross most often in the morning and evening, during the breakfast and dinner hours. At breakfast, Noah turns on the radio, usually NPR. I eat with the Sunday Times spread out beside me (it lasts the whole week) and Mark sleeps in. In the early evenings, on the nights when our schedules coordinate (not often with band practices and a half-dozen jobs between us), we drink beer and catch up on the day. The room gets crowded sometimes, with Noah making falafel on his way out the door and Mark sauting onions and garlic in what has become almost a nightly ritual. In the new house we’ll have two kitchens, one for Noah and another for Mark and me. Both will have working ovens, a luxury we’ve done without. It’ll also have an office – we’ve already worked out a decorating scheme. The one I use now is the coziest room in the house; it’s small, carpeted and efficient. Morning light filters through the windows, and the heater vent is right below the desk. A few months ago, one or more burglars relieved me of a few of my possessions, including my laptop and digital camera. That was one of the reasons Mark was so eager to move. The new house, which is close to UNCG, may be more secure, but right now I’m thinking the only silver lining to the theft is that it means I’ll have two fewer belongings to pack. I’m less sure how the move will work out for me. I’ve been reluctant to sign leases during the past year, but that hasn’t stopped me from feeling more and more settled, my life confined between the brackets of home and work. Enough time has passed between the years when I moved on a semi-annual basis and my current stasis. Maybe a shakeup will jolt me toward the next step, whatever that may be. Figuring it out may take some time, but right now I’ve got a whole stack of half-wrecked albums to attend to.

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