Short story: Schrödinger's Hat Box

In April of 2019 I gleefully packed up my home of 11 years. While fantastical in retrospect, during the marathon packing session I remember thinking that once on the market my lovely oceanfront home would sell instantaneously, and I would be off to an exciting new life.

It was an optimistic time for April 2019 Jason. We had spent the last 6 months nursing our 125 pound Great Pyrenees through double arthroscopy. Diagnosed with torn cruciate ligaments, Nemo would require a lot of carrying up and down the 26 stairs up to our front door, a lot of pain medication and a lot of sedatives. I spent a good portion of his recovery sleeping next to him on the hardwood floor, as he was never to climb the stairs up to my bedroom again.

Nemo was on the mend, and my daughter came to me with a plan to end her weekly custody migrations. She, about to become a teenager, had realized that the time she spent commuting from the beach to her school and gym would be better spent elsewhere. She also noted that the transitions from home to home were disruptive and she'd prefer it if we changed her schedule.

Why not move back to Los Angeles, like you've always wanted? Her mother, my former wife, suggested. Vacations and long weekends would be spent with me, no longer would I spend 3-4 days a week driving the kid to gym and school. An end to my self-imposed exile years before I had planned it? Real estate prices for homes like mine should be bonkers, said the ex-wife, now is the time!

So April 2019 Jason hired a real estate agent and the real estate agent said "Pack up! This place is so amazing! We want to show the house empty!"

As I said, April 2019 Jason gleefully packed up my home. He had this awesome idea about moving the Great Pyrenees, his daughter, his Cavalier King Charles and himself into their VW Vanagon and camping on beaches until his house sold. That was one happy Jason.

April 2019 Jason bought his first moving boxes, packing tape, and that horrible tan packing paper on the 21st of April. April 2019 Jason scheduled movers for the 8th of May. April 2019 Jason started drinking as much of the fairly large amounts of alcohol he had in the house, smoking a ton of weed and packing up his 3000 sqft collection of books, toys, musical instruments, and assorted crap.

April 2019 Jason was full of hope. The real estate agent had offered a fantastical forecast that even missing by a vast % would enable a wonderful transition to a dream home for April 2019 Jason. Fantasizing about moving to a walk-street in Venice Beach, California, where he'd have warm water instead of Northern California's cold, all the friends and family he missed so badly, and ample parking.

Inebriated on THC, etoh and the idea of a brilliant future, April 2019 Jason began to pack box after box after box. Weeks went by. In the end 94 moving boxes of various sizes were packed. 8 wardrobe, 24 small, 35 medium, and 27.

This does not include the art and furniture I wisely had the movers pack.

Now, even The Best of Times Jason's naming and organizing skills are eccentric. Optimistic April 2019 Jason was high, drunk and high on life. Boxes were named things like:

"Headpiece to the Staff of Ra and time travel documents"

"Books on Magic/carburetor gaskets"

"Sweaters you will miss"

April 2019 Jason, in his misguided bliss, thought the future was bright and in no time July or August 2019 Jason would be opening these boxes.

I remember little of this time beyond saving the last ¼ of a bottle of Mac18 for after taping up the final box. That final box was labeled "KITCHEN COFFEE MAKER" and included my Rancilio Ms Sivia and my Capresso coffee grinder. While in a daze and I knew the coffee machine would be a most important box in my unpacking process and that I wanted to open it first.

I was sort of heartbroken I couldn't bring the Espresso machine in the VW van, but I could not.

There was a box labeled "This you'll wish you brought in the bus" however. When I opened it, I was relieved to find I didn't really miss anything in there.

The house was haphazardly packed. The movers came. Nemo was cleared by his vet to travel on his rebuilt knees. We were off to camp on beaches up and down the California coast.

A few weeks later the real estate agents had done whatever work they wanted to the house and were having photos taken. They had decided to stage the house. I was off with the dogs and kid in Big Sur, or Malibu, or the Mendo Coast. It was a good time. June 2019 Jason was having fun and not worried. My daughter went home to her mother and gymnastics training.

July 2019 Jason got a lowball offer on the house and rejected it. Then on July 29, 2019 Jason woke up in the VW with Nemo dead and finally wondered why the house wasn't selling.

Looking up from a life of camping on the beaches and believing in the expertise of real estate agents, August 2019 Jason saw darkening skies and wondered if he would ever see his espresso machine again. Things were still warm, however, and he'd yet to start missing the cardigans that November 2019 Jason would suffer.

The house sold and while November 2019 Jason didn't have his brown Ben Sherman cardigan he did find a vintage Pendleton and a new home in Venice Beach, on a walk-street. It'd be months before he could move in, however, as it was pretty cracked out and desperately needed renovation.

February 2020 Jason thought he might have his espresso machine by April, and suspected the sweaters were going to be useless until next winter. March 2020 Jason was hunkered down in his parent's house, hoping his home renovation would get done as the world melted down. He'd largely forgotten about the espresso machine or anything he had in storage — and just hoped he could get a fence around his property before squatters moved in.

Miraculously movers were able to bring the boxes April 2019 Jason packed from Northern California to Southern CA in April 2020.

April 2020 Jason was about to be really frustrated.

Not remembering anything about how funny April 2019 Jason thought he was when packing up, April 2020 Jason did remember the espresso machine. He offered the movers an on the spot $50 tip to the person who handed me the box labeled "KITCHEN COFFEE MAKER."

The movers brought all 94 boxes and the furniture from my 3000 sqft home in NorCal to my new 1000 sqft home in SoCal.

All-day movers brought things in and shuffled them about to make space to barely fit everything inside (as it'd be stolen from the yard due to my lack of a fence.) I kept asking, they kept not finding the espresso machine. Eventually, they left me with a mountain of stuff and no espresso machine. Maybe I had imagined labeling the box so clearly. Looking at the labels on other boxes it was clear I had been fucking with myself.

One of the very first boxes I found was labeled:

Probably 2 Hats

This box weighed 35 lbs or so.

Probably 2 Hats

I could not possibly open that box. I set it aside. What if it wasn't 2 Hats?

Stoned and drunk April 2019 Jason had fucked over slightly stoned but not drunk because he was worried alcohol might weaken his immune response April 2020 Jason.

April 2019 Jason had left April 2020 Jason Schrödinger's Hat Box. I would set the box aside, moving it around as I looked for every box labeled like it might house kitchen stuff. The espresso machine was not showing up.

Days went by. I could not find the coffee maker, had resorted to a French Press, and every time I would shuffle a mountain of boxes thinking I might find the coffee maker, I would run into 'Probably 2 Hats.'

April 2020 Jason was pretty manic. He'd found a mountain of sweaters that he would never need in Southern California. All the crap collected by 1994 Jason thru 2019 Jason was never going to fit in 2020 Jason's smaller home. Every day forgotten treasures were unearthed from boxes 2020 Jason did not remember packing.

Junk haulers were called. They were called again.

Art went up on walls. Lampshades went on lamps. These things were done months or even years before prior Jason's had ever gotten this stuff done during a move. April 2020 Jason had turned into May 2020 Jason and he wanted his god damn coffee machine.

After opening around 85 of the boxes two things were certain: May 2020 Jason was not missing any hats and that fucking espresso machine was still a no-show.

Having spent hours during the unpacking arguing with myself, May 2020 Jason decided to open the box. Inside was my Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary — a prized possession I had forgotten I ever had, a lot of stationary, and 2 baseball hats.

The espresso machine was in a box shoved into a corner with its label facing the wall. July 2020 Jason makes 4 to 6 double shots of espresso every day.

I think June 2020 Jason tossed those 2 hats.

for Ava, who said this story made her laugh