by the time we walked back to her place, her boyfriend sajid had just arrived as well. inside the house, her roommates were all ready to move. julie had drawn up this elaborate plan documented on two pieces of paper on the kitchen table. i would be part of the team that would go to peabody to get the uhaul truck, pick up the new sofas, then move them back to somerville. another team would remain in the house and move out the old sofas to make room for the new ones.
sajid drove julie and myself to salisbury, where we'd pick up the uhaul truck (the nearest one to peabody was danvers, but they didn't have any vehicles available). the three of us then drove to julie's parents' place in peabody, with me riding with julie in the truck. her parents had already moved out the couches (so there'd be room for their new couches), so it was just a simple case of loading them into the vehicle. julie, on the advice of her father, drove the truck onto the lawn to facilitate the move. with everything fully loaded, we drove back to somerville.
there was some drama when we got there because her street was blocked off my a pair of fire trucks (there didn't seem to be any fires though). nevertheless, we managed to squeeze the truck onto the "driveway" which is in fact a private street that is usually bitterly defended by its tenants but for some reason they were quiet today. the old sofas had already been moved out, lying on the sidewalk, its degree of filthiness now readily apparent. the army of burly men was just a few guys of regular built. one by one pieces of furniture made their way up the spiral staircase to the 2nd floor apartment. finally the heavy lifting was over, but the hard part was yet to come.
with 4 women living together in the same apartment, each one had an opinion as to how to arrange the new furniture. where should the couch go? the love seat? the single chair? and the ottoman? what about the rug? and the coffee table that doesn't fit anymore? and don't we need new paintings for the walls? it took them awhile to figure things out, i was getting ready to leave, but before i did, they finally managed to settle on a amicable arrangement. with that closure i took my leave, telling julie i could probably make the end of the house party they're going to throw later tonight.
the only other thing i had left to do to today was drive down to rhode island for the holiday party renata was throwing at her parents' place. i'll admit that i was reluctant to go for many reasons: i wouldn't know most of the people there and the only person i really cared about, her attention would be divided amongst a dozen guests. so i wasn't in a very festive mood when renata called me up in the afternoon, just to confirm i was coming, and to also ask me a favor. i knew i'd be driving down by myself, so i figured she wanted me bring some of her guests. however, that wasn't the favor she wanted: she didn't want me to talk about the weblog, for fear of her coworkers finding out more than they should about her private life. i agreed to be discreet, but a little hurt that i would have to be reminded of something i wasn't planning on doing anyway. i also found out her marsian wouldn't be there tonight, participating in a living creche (dressed as virgin mary) somewhere out in cranston (i figured if he was at the dinner, at least i'd have somebody to talk to).
the dinner party was at 7pm, so i left my place at 5:30. i wore my red pants because it seemed appropriately festive for the occasion and also because i crave attention. i don't do a lot of road trips in the car so whenever i do i like to make myself a special cd of favorite music. originally i thought i'd get to providence very early, and that i could probably even take a detour and check out the lasalette shrine in attleboro to see some christmas lights. some highway traffic cut my time short, and then i got lost as i approached providence, wandering off into east providence, jumping a curb on an u-turn attempt, and driving down a busy one way street (the frantic flashing headlights quickly warned me i was traveling in the wrong direction). eventually i made it, thank god i had a map, and right on time too. another car parked on the street just as soon as i got out. guests? i quickly got my stuff so i wouldn't have to meet anyone prematurely, and literally ran to the house. the other car turned out to be peter's car, renata's friend of a friend who's relocated to boston and temporarily staying at her place until he can find a place to live. there were also the two chinese teachers as well as the hostess herself. i was guest numero uno, and i presented to renata's parents a box of clementine oranges.
soon the other guests showed up, renata's friend erin, erin's friend and husband, 2 gym teachers, as well as the school secretary and her husband. everyone huddled in the living room making small talk. everyone but me, i was in the kitchen watching renata's parents cook. there's something soothing about watching people make food, a real labor of love. i was able to learn a few things as well: renata's mother snapped the dried pasta in half before she cooked them to make them easier to eat, which seemed very ingenious. renata, sensing that i was off my game, told me i could talk about my weblog if i wanted to, but i was moody for other reasons. finally dinner was ready and it was time to eat.
after dinner i hung out with the chinese teachers. they were weeks away from going back home to beijing, and seemed like they had some questions to ask me about how americans apply for colleges. apparently in china there's a national test you take when you're in high school and if you fail you don't go to college. the teachers were very envious of our system of repeat SAT scores and teacher recommendations and extra-curricular activities. i asked them what was the first thing they wanted to do when they go back home, and they both replied in unison, "eat!" chinese hot pot in particular. i sheepishly told them that i was having hot pot with my parents tomorrow night. as the evening progressed, people started leaving. peter went home early when i volunteered to drive the chinese teachers and renata back home. eventually we were the only ones left along with renata's parents. renata's mother entertained us by reading the extensive list of rules from her cooking class. finally it was time for us to leave, a little bit after 11pm.
with renata as my co-pilot i managed to not get lost. there would be no fumbling with the radio as i made everyone list to the mix cd i made. we made it back to boston in good time, dropping the teachers off first. since it was already so late, renata thought it be a good idea if she stayed over at my place for the night. her mind was made up when i told her i'd make her belgian waffles for breakfast in the morning. when we got home, she asked for my cell phone so she could call her parents. i went through all my pockets but couldn't find it. that's when i realized i might've lost my phone, probably somewhere back in rhode island. we decided to take the car and go looking for a pay phone. we didn't have to drive far: there was one across the street at star market. i called the cell phone to make sure it was still working. the ringing i heard meant that the phone was still intact, that it didn't get run over somewhere. renata called her mother to let her know she was fine and asked if they saw or heard a cellphone. they didn't, but said they'd look for it in the morning.
we returned to the house, where renata quickly went to bed.