I spent a chunk of my weekend in Abilene, performing one of the most onerous tasks known to mankind: Helping my sister and her husband move.
There's nothing better to remind you of your poor fitness - and of your mortality - than to feel your heart nearly explode after you've lugged a 50-pound air conditioner up two flights of stairs to a dusty attic. It's especially fun to contrast your own conditioning with that of the high school cross country runner who zips up and down the stairs past you with full loads in each arm, barely breaking a sweat.
On the bright side, though, there's also no better way to use your long-forgotten high school physics classes than to figure out how to get a 1,000-pound piano from the sidewalk to the front porch, then into the house. Suffice it to say the word "fulcrum" was bandied about an unusual number of times Sunday afternoon - to the point where, delirious from exhaustion, our small team of movers kept making jokes with "fulcrum" as the punchline.
You probably had to be there.
The best news: no hernias, though not for lack of trying. I keep checking myself over, every couple of hours, just to make sure.
(Meanwhile, my father, who actually spent part of his youthful years as a mover - and the early part of his professional career as a moving company executive - has, upon entering his 50s, declared his retirement from helping his children move. He spent the weekend herding grandchildren, then riding around Abilene with my mother, looking at houses. I'm not sure how to feel about that.)
As for the house itself: a wonderful old two-story Victorian thing, built in 1884 - at least, that's what the brass plaque out front says. It has the original door knobs, a wrought-iron fence and one of those cool old toilets like the one where Al Pacino found the gun in "The Godfather." It needs some new wallpaper in a couple of places but otherwise is in fine shape.
I like to think that during their All-American youth, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower might have paused in front of the house during a moonlight stroll to steal a chaste kiss. But who knows?
There's a reason I describe the house in detail. I found that I've started looking at real estate through Lawrence goggles. Good taste and the preservation of family relations prohibit me from mentioning how much my sister and her husband paid, but their nice Victorian home in Abilene probably cost about the same as a two-bedroom fixer-upper bungalow here. They probably would've had to pay an additional $100,000 for the house if it had been in Lawrence.
Which is kind of depressing.
On the other hand, I'm not interested in living in Abilene. So I'll stick with Lawrence, expensive housing and all.
And on the bright side, it means I won't have to move. It saves my heart from exploding.