Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Kmart and Sears did it, Proctor and Gamble did it, even Hall and Oates did it. These days, everyone seems to be creating mergers. So, why is it so difficult for my fiancé and me to create our own merger? In our case, the merger takes place in one apartment. But let’s be specific, our lives are a side issue to the main attraction, an endless supply of “stuff.” Like Noah loading the arc, we take stock of the cargo: two VCR players, two televisions, two microwaves, two toasters and two complete sets of every Van Morrison album, his vinyl, and mine compact disc. Perhaps we are more compatible than we thought?
What happened next was less about teamwork and more about shameless competition. We bargained over who had the better copy of Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde, who had the better telephone and whose comforter was softer. During this process, we realized that other voices demanded notice, most notably those of our past relationships. When leafing through his weathered edition of Walden Pond, I shouted, “Who the heck is Lindsey?” Our stuff was telling our story even when we said nothing. At the same time in an apartment across the Hudson River, my friend Dianna was emptying the contents of her New York apartment and life. While preparing for her west coast move, she found a pair of skis and exclaimed, “those skis are so three boyfriends ago!”

Whether it’s Walden Pond or dusty skis, we all were holding on to stuff from people that we used to be. This came to a screeching halt when the moving truck arrived and began to unload the contents of my new roomies former apartment. A 1970’s style “Papason” chair was loaded in and began to make its way into the living room. I guess you could say it was the rattan that broke the camel’s back.
We faced our first challenge as a couple. Our mission was to figure out how to merge into a single lane without getting sideswiped. We realized quickly that our styles were a bit diverse, his modern fraternity and mine maximal consumer. Here in lie the differences between the single woman and the single man’s apartment.
A quick run down of the contents gives a better sense. His: collection of every ticket stub to every dead show he attended, fichus tree, drum set and a full set of college mugs. The move represented the swan song of his bachelorhood. Hers: 75 pair of shoes, two closets full of clothing, and glassware for every cocktail known to man. The move represented her preparedness for any situation with the right outfit and appropriate wine glass.
Since my business is running a company called Order, one can imagine the disarray that this move represents. On a daily basis, clients seek my help with these kinds of situations. Feeling like one of those parents who says, not my kid, the problem hit home, my home specifically. Insert rim shot here. Thank god we kept the drum set.

I was faced with a professional and highly personal challenge. How to merge households with the least amount of friction? Some tried and true advice turned out to be the most practical. Before moving in, we took inventory of all the items to avoid duplicates. The duplicate items were set aside for our annual garage sale and put into our storage space. The large collection of music was culled for doubles which were then sold to a second hand record store in town. With closet space at a premium, each of us held a fashion show for one another with veto ability to ensure that we looked our best. Consignment and resale shops accepted many of our discarded or ill fitting fashions. Furniture was judged on its merits only, without emotion. Only the most functional would survive, the rest was donated to a local shelter no questions asked. All memorabilia to be kept was placed in matching storage bins and labeled properly. Why keep these memories if not well preserved? In the end, we had recouped a bit of money with which to buy some new things, together. But most importantly, we learned to put our stuff aside and make room for each other.