Hanging Around

I know they’re here somewhere…

We moved house recently. I may have mentioned it before. Moving house is a phrase that reminds me of my mother (there are many). Where I grew up we were the only family who talked about moving house – everyone else flitted. Mum hated that term and it was one of many that, depending on her mood, would get you a glare, a lecture in using proper English, or a snappy instruction to talk properly. It’s also a phrase I think is a misnomer – shouldn’t it be moving home? When we move we pack up the contents of a house into boxes for transport to a new building, we don’t strap that building onto the back of a truck and drive it to a new plot of land. (Although they actually do here in New Zealand at times. Another story.)

Moving house/home is fraught with challenges. We had many this time and I’ll enlighten the curious when they’re all sorted (and I have a few days spare to list them). One of the biggest was moving from a four-bedroomed house via a small flat to a two-bedroomed house. As the flat didn’t have a lot of wardrobe space we stuffed unseasonal clothing that we would normally hang in the spare bedroom into suitcases. We thought it would be a couple of seasons and it turned into five or six. Again, that’s another story.

We chucked the surplus hangers into a bag and chucked that in the shower of the flat’s second bathroom, which we neither needed nor used. We both saw the bag, and the hangers, from time to time when we were hunting for something else we’d stored in the shower. Second bathrooms can be so useful.

We made the final move at the beginning of September, a time of seasonal change the world over. As I said in my last post, spring in these islands is challenging and the change often happens within twenty-four hours, sometimes more than once. It’s good to have a wide variety of layers, especially the ones that have been gathering creases for the last eighteen months – time to get them out of the suitcases. Now where did I put those hangers? I searched the house. I rummaged through cupboards that had been empty a few days earlier; I poked my arm into piles of bedding and towels feeling blindly for anything harder than cloth; I checked any box that was still thicker than a few centimetres; I dragged emptied suitcases from under the bed and the stairs to check for something I’d missed. No hangers.

Frustrated, I shelved the job until our next trip to Ohakune, presuming the hangers must have somehow made it there. That search wasn’t easy. In addition to storing a lot of boxes from Wellington there, we had some renovations done, meaning more stuff from that house packed into more boxes (yes, I know, we possibly have too much stuff). Not one was labelled Hangers, but maybe I’d forgotten to write on the box? I searched through almost every box I could find. No hangers.  

Back in Wellington I retraced my search-steps and unearthed nothing. I stood in the middle of the bedroom and swore a lot. Had I imagined them? Had I really seen them in the apartment? Upon questioning, Neil confirmed they did exist in reality and were not a figment of my vivid imagination. There was one last chance – I hadn’t dug to the very back of the loft storage area in Ohakune on the basis the boxes in there had come straight from our last house and hadn’t been touched. But it was the only place I hadn’t looked, and I was also missing a box of kitchen stuff, another thing driving me crazy. So next time we were there I put on my hard hat and my steel-capped boots, wrapped a length of rope around my waist and went in. Nothing except a lot of cobwebs and their inhabitants. Good job it wasn’t Neil doing the searching.

I interrogated my husband again.

‘Do you know where they are? Are you gaslighting me?’

‘I always return your calls,’ he said, huffing.

‘Wha–? That’s ghosting.’

I figured if I have to explain what it is he probably isn’t doing it to me (or he’s really good). I gave up, knowing that as soon as I did they would likely turn up, although from where I couldn’t imagine. I refused to admit total defeat and buy more. Clothes could stay folded and the coffee cups unfound.

A few weeks later we trekked out to a storage locker to measure the larger bits of furniture we’d stored there nearly two years ago until we were absolutely sure they wouldn’t fit in the new house. Hallelujah – there was the missing kitchen box, along with a large one with TOOLS written on its lid (Neil has more of these than I have scarves so the discovery wasn’t mindblowing). It was unfamiliar writing (a lot of our boxes were pre-loved) so I ripped it open. Ah! Jigsaws. Thought I was missing a few of those. My satchel, also missed, although not until the middle of the night recently when wondering what I’d done with it kept me awake for a couple of hours – I would never have discarded it, a present from Neil when I went back to school five years ago. I pulled it out and heard a rattle as something below it shifted.  

I still can’t remember carting this to storage, a box I must have packed in the last few months. So how did a bag of hangers get to a place I’m convinced I haven’t been to in nearly a year? Either they made their own way there, I’m losing my mind, or Neil really is gaslighting me.

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