A House(boat) is Not a Home: Part II
I won't lie to you and claim that the day of our Big Move was by far the hottest, most blistering. most sweltering day since the dawn of meteorological record-keeping. But it certainly felt like it. In fact, I daresay that if Hell itself were to achieve this same level of atmospheric pre-combustion, then even Old Lucifer would probably feel sympathetic enough to distribute those little hand-held fans among the Legions of the Damned! Be that as it may, it was really, really HOT that day- and seeing as how all of our belongings were packed and boxed, and we'd already rented the Dutch equivalent of a "U-Haul" van, there was no turning back. So we loaded up the van with our household goods: furniture, kitchen utensils, my clothes (very few), my wife's and daughter's clothes (LOTS!!), a few paintings, assorted objets d' art, and TONS and TONS of books.
When I say "TONS" of books, I'm referring both to their multitude, and to their weight. And by some intricately complicated Law of Physics which I don't pretend to understand- the excessive heat somehow made each box of books feel at least twice as heavy as it did when I'd originally packed them several days earlier at "normal" room temperature.
In any event, there we stood: beside our overflowing possession-filled rental van at the top of a small hill overlooking our new abode- a houseboat moored in the canal at the bottom of that small hill. Steps? Well of course there were steps! But the problem was that the steps were spaced every hundred yards or so and, wouldn't you just know it- our boat was situated directly beween the steps on the left, and those on the right. Which left us with the choice of either walking an extra 100 yards with each and every heavy box (first walking 50 yards to either the right or left, then down the steps, then doubling back 50 yards to place them in front of our boat), or- and this was my...bright...idea, oh-so-carefully sliding the boxes, one by one, down the gentle slope of that small hill- which was covered by (mostly) flat natural stone.
Now, had my brain not been half-baked from exposure to that broiling sun, I would have realized immediately that this idea was inherently flawed. For, although those natural stones were indeed ..."mostly"...flat, any fool could see that if a box just happened to catch on an UNeven stone, it would follow the Law of Gravity by tipping over and tumbling down the hill till it reached the bottom. This is, of course, precisely what happened. Several times, in fact. Which meant that we not only ended up having to walk that extra 100 yards anyway, but were then also obliged to gather up the contents of the fallen/torn boxes that were now strewn all over the ground at the bottom of that "slight" hill. At least they were strewn directly in front of our boat...
So there we stood, my wife and I: thoroughly exhausted, and dangerously dehydrated from sweating like participants in the Sub-Saharan Marathon. But at least all those boxes were now piled high directly in front of the boat, and all that now remained was for us to carry them inside. Had we not been so woozy from impending heat-stroke, we would probably have noticed that this particular boat, unlike all the others, had a flat black tar-paper-covered roof. And had we noticed this before opening the front door, we would then have taken the wise precaution of first leaning back- as one does before opening the door of an oven wherein a turkey has been roasting for 4 hours at 350 degrees. But alas, I turned the key, opened the door, and was almost knocked to the ground by the blast of searing heat that funneled out the door and into my (already beet-red) face. I'm happy to report that my eyebrows and eyelashes finally grew back before the coming of Fall...
NEXT: Part III ("Oh Lord, what have we done...?!")