Performer: Mad Season
Songwriters: Barrett Martin, Mike McCready, John Baker Saunders, Layne Staley
Original Release: Above
Definitive Version: None.
Debbie had a big chore awaiting her when she got back from a work-related retreat to Cape Cod in August 1995, when Above was a big spin, not only at my home, but at Debbie’s. Actually, when she got back, there was no more “mine” and “hers” when it came to homes. It was “ours.”
As I mentioned two years ago (good ol’ No. 850), my crew and I moved all the furniture from my apartment and Debbie’s apartment while she was gone. Then, I spent the next few days cleaning out and cleaning up my apartment. When Debbie came home, I was moved fully into our new place in Gahanna.
Debbie, however, was not. She left me with explicit instructions: Don’t touch anything in her closet or the kitchen cabinets. OK. So, when she got home, she had all to do all the getting out, boxing up and moving out—with my help, at least from a hauling standpoint, of course.
But that wasn’t all. She also had to set things up in the new place the way she wanted. I had the furniture in the rudimentary locations that she wanted, but there’s always room for tinkering here and there. (The stereo setups, however, were fully functional.)
Consequently, we ended up bumping up right against the deadline for when Debbie had to be out of her apartment, at the end of the month. She had two weeks after she got home from Cape Cod to be out and gone, and she was pretty whipped at the end of that time.
The biggest chore by far was the kitchen. I had no idea how well-stocked each of her cabinets were, and maybe neither did she. She had not one set of dishes or even two, but three—her regular dinnerware, her china from her marriage and her former mother-in-law’s china as well. I went to her apartment one night after work, like at midnight, and she still was working feverishly to box up everything.
I wasn’t just standing around gawking during this time. My main task was to work on organization infrastructure. That meant I went to the Lowe’s out by Debbie’s apartment to buy several of those all-purpose metal shelves, you know, the ones that have about a thousand nuts and bolts that you have to attach. After doing the first one manually, it was back to Lowe’s to get an electric drill that had a screwdriver head. That’s better.
I assembled the shelves in the living room, where I had space to work, then hauled the shelves downstairs to the utility room. I wasn’t allowed to stock them myself, however. Debbie had to help so she would know where everything was—and approve of its location—before I could set it on the shelf.
I also had to hang pictures, add a towel rack to the cabinet door beneath the kitchen sink and assemble a wardrobe for all the clothes that I no longer would be able to keep in my one-third of the bedroom closet.
The biggest chore was installing our new washer and dryer. I took down the door to the basement and the bannister. After the mover delivered the appliances from Sears (Debbie would have only Maytag, much to my wallet’s chagrin), I was surprised to discover that I had to do the rest—a first for me.
The washer was simple: I plugged in the power cord, attached the hoses to the spigots, and attached the drain hose and ran it to the utility sink. Everything was included, and it didn’t take long. I turned on the water and felt satisfaction when the hoses swelled up and didn’t leak. OK, the washer was ready for use.
The dryer was more complicated. I had to attach the power cord to the back, which wasn’t a big deal, but seemed to be an odd extra step. The real problem was the exhaust. Hey, that pipe isn’t going to reach the back of the dryer, is it? Back to Lowe’s.
I bought two aluminum elbows, aluminum foil “pipe”—not plastic—to connect everything and some pipe clamps. I hooked it all up, flipped on the dryer … and it worked. Huh, maybe I DO have Dad’s handyman gene. I’d never needed it before.
One day during this time, River of Deceit came on the CD player in our new living room. It was our favorite song off Above, and Debbie she sat on the couch to take a break. “Come over and sit with me so we can listen to this song together,” she said, reaching a hand to me. The first words of the song—my pain is self-chosen—struck a nerve that day.
You see, only a few days before, I was given a choice between doing what was opportunistic and doing what was right. I chose what was right—really, the only decision I had, all things considered—and I told Debbie about the whole incident. But I felt turmoil inside me. Why did I feel that turmoil knowing I did the right thing? The answer’s coming.