I had it planned out perfectly. Sonia, the young woman whom I hired to help, would arrive outside my building at 9 a.m. "Park your car in the driveway," I instructed, "leave your flashers on. I'll have a cart filled with small boxes which we'll put in your trunk, and then drive less than a mile to my new apartment."
My scheme was detailed minute-to-minute. I felt as energized as if I were the head of a team of thieves about to pull off a bank heist.
"Got it," Sonia said over the phone.
Thus satisfied, I continued: "When we get to my new building, you'll wait outside and I'll retrieve a cart from their dock. We'll transfer boxes from trunk to cart; I'll take the filled cart upstairs and unload, and then return to do more trips."
This had been one of my middle-of-the-night bright ideas: two days before the movers were to arrive to shift furniture from my Lakeshore East studio to my River North convertible studio, I would eliminate 20 small cartons of stuff that would then be unpacked into cabinets and closets. Thus, the big move would be cheaper and quicker, and I'd be settled in and operational the day after.
On the morning of the Sonia/cartons/cart transfer, I woke early and checked my email. "Unfortunately," hers began. My heart raced as I read on, "my car broke down, can't help you. Sorry."
I stared at her email, surveyed the small hills of cartons lining my entryway, and considered my options. Perhaps I could do some of the carting myself? I loaded my grocery-shopping cart with as many as could fit in and still be wheel-able. Now, without Sonia's transport, I'd summon a Lyft.
On the way to my front door, I froze at the foot of my upright piano. One of the attractions of my new apartment had been an alcove that I had eyeballed and declared, "perfect." But, I had never actually measured the piano, or new space, to learn if they indeed would be happily wed.
The palpitations that started with Sonia's "Unfortunately" returned. "This is an omen," I told myself. "Everything is going to go wrong. The piano won't fit; I should never have rushed into moving." I felt my confidence losing steam, as if I had been flying gaily in a hot air balloon and now a slow leak would send me crashing to the pavement.
It was time to confront my fear. I grabbed a tape measure from an unpacked drawer, stretched it across the piano, and recorded "58 inches" on a notepad.
Downstairs, the Lyft driver loaded my shopping cart into his trunk; he drove and then dropped cart and me at the door of my new place. I picked up my keys at the front desk, road up 10 floors, and steered my stuff through my opened door.
Suddenly, I was transfixed. Floor to ceiling windows brought light into the entire space. When I had chosen this apartment, it was filled with the previous tenant's furnishings. Now empty, cleaned, and sun-kissed, it was dazzling. Quickly, I retrieved the tape measure; the width of the alcove was more than the 60" tape could stretch! My piano would easily fit, with room to spare. Sonia's "Unfortunately" was not an omen after all, merely a hiccup that I quickly overcame that same day with the aid of a willing neighbor and several more Lyft trips.
The remainder of my plan worked well. On Day Two, a friend joined me to finish the unpacking and await the arrival and assembly of a new IKEA double bed. On the actual day of moving (the truck was an hour late, the provocative "omen" was threatening, but dissolved once the crew showed up and completed the entire relocation within three hours), another friend came to finish unpacking and dress my new bed with linens, then shift it from its assembled spot to another. And the day after the big move, my new building's staff hung all of my paintings gratis. Finally, I was settled in and back to my routine.
Now, the question that has been dogging me since this experience is one that you may wrestle with, too. How did I allow one setback to shoot my bravado to the basement? What is wrong with me, or you, that permits a slip-up to seize our souls and convince us that we are not as capable as we think we are?
Why does a simple "snag" drive us downhill to "stupid?"