I moved to San Francisco on August 31st, 2011. It was an incredibly sunny day, with little wind and few clouds. I had only visited three times before, once as a kid with my family, and twice to visit the boy I ended up moving here to be with. Each visit had been filled with capricious Karl, and rain that was even more volatile. Although the weather was pleasant, the drive from Santa Barbara to the city was fucking terrible. Two days before moving I had my first ovarian cystectomy. The bright side, I got to watch from the comfort of my bed as friends moved my furniture, boxes, and life into a Uhaul. My parents graciously became my transporters, and as my dad drove my belongings in a rented truck, my mother and I followed behind in my civic. The dark side, not only was I in great pain, I was also having trouble keeping down the meds to decrease said discomfort: like clockwork, when one pill was swallowed, it would make its way back up twenty or so minutes later. Even today when I drive up and down the 101, I recall all the places my mom had to pull over so I could get out and vomit. Not only was I throwing up every hour, and experiencing insane abdominal pain, but I couldn’t eat, and also couldn’t shit. So there I was: sweating, moaning, puking, constipating, as my mom drove me to my new “glamorous” love driven life in a “big” city.
We finally got to Gilroy, which took two hours longer than usual, and I could hardly move. My parents decided we should stop for the night and get a hotel, the idea of unpacking on Oak street at dusk had no appeal. I don’t remember the hotel much besides having to hide my dog, taking multiple stool softeners (to no avail), and being brought mashed potatoes to enjoy in a room that wreaked of garlic. The next morning, we got up early, and began the last leg of the trek. I can’t remember why, but for some reason I ended up driving one of the cars on my own.
As I reached the flat stretch on the 101, after the airport and before what was once Candlestick Park, I got a call from my dad saying I should take the 280. (I later learned that my boyfriend had actually told him NOT to take the 280, but dad hadn’t quite been listening). As I veered right, to take the wrong highway, my stomach lurched. FINALLY something was happening inside. I distinctly remember how excited I was to relieve myself after three days, and to do so in my brand new apartment nonetheless. As I got off at the 4th street exit I realized this wasn’t right. Our new house was off Divisadero, and I was by the ball park. Suddenly my stomach began rumbling, the myriad of stool softeners had found their voice, and they were ready to prove themselves.
I called my boyfriend, and upon being told of my whereabouts he asked: “you know we don’t live down there right?” Before the trip, and the surgery, I had concocted multiple stories and images of how our move in day would go. It would be romantic: we wouldn’t be able to stop smiling, we would drink wine as we bickered about what wall to place the bed on, we would listen to music loudly, and bask in our new life. Our actual first conversation as residents incorporated no romance, in fact it was down right unfriendly and aggressive as it centered around me screaming at him to get me to our apartment before I shit my pants.
People tell you when they move in with someone for the first time its exciting, scary, and hopeful. It’s true. I was excited as hell to see our new bathroom; I was scared to death that I would walk into our apartment for the first time with excrement seeping down my leg; and I was hopeful that said excrement would actually stay inside me until I got to the toilet. First love, new city, new life . . . new underwear?
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The Gods of waste smiled down on me that day, and after three hills and a left on Divisadero, I was turning onto Oak street with the end in sight. Pulling over on the left side of the street, behind the Uhaul, I slammed on my brakes, put on my quite literal “oh shit” blinkers, and flew towards our front gate. Gracious boyfriend stood at the ready, each door was unlocked and before I knew it I was sitting down on our new toilet for the first time, poo-ing like I had never pooped before. We had done it. Love, team work, and probably three to four stool softeners too many, had brought us to this moment. I finally exhaled. After living abroad for almost a year, and then in separate U.S. cities for six months, space and time finally compromised and allowed us to come together. And this was our toilet.
Most of the day is a blur, but I clearly remember sitting on the porcelain, smiling to myself: I had succeeded in not shitting my pants, I was moving in with the guy I loved, and all was well. The stool softeners had done their job, and as I finished I looked to my right for toilet paper, to learn the roll was on the other side. Turning to my left, I saw only metal. We had the toilet, we had each other, but we had yet to buy TP.