The story so far
Tuesday: Packing insanity
In retrospect (and in real-time-spect), it was absolute lunacy for us not to recruit more help for moving what must have been hundreds of boxes out of the fourth-floor walkup apartment. My bf had two friends help, one who came at the beginning and one many hot hours later at the end, and both were godsends. The packing never ended. Even at the end, when we were stuffing the clothes from the closets into trash bags, there was still more to pack. Then we just left things I would have normally taken, like the old-tyme typewriter I found in the Bronx. In the fever of packing, I began hating everything I loved: vintage Pyrex? Why in the world do I have so goddamn much of it? I know that I also appeared rather insane to the bf for hoarding this many things. John Lennon appeared in my head to impart wisdom from beyond the grave: "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can..." Unfortunately for all involved in this move, I can not.
The plan was to depart in the middle of the night whenever we finished packing the truck, but by the time we'd finished at about 4 a.m., we were beyond spent. We decided to crash for about two hours before taking off. A wink or two later we were up and decidedly not rested, but it was time to go. We took another load out to the trucks in a dreamlike state before one final trip up to the apartment to get the pets, when my bf started cursing: he'd left the house keys upstairs. We were locked out.
"Looks like it's time to go up the fire escape," says I. We retrieved the step ladder from the moving truck and brought it underneath the fire escape. But it wasn't nearly tall enough to reach the hanging fire escape ladder. The solution was that I'd climb the stepladder, then my boyfriend would lift me the rest of the way to the fire escape ladder, where I'd pull myself up. By this time we'd gathered a small group of onlookers comprised of the deli-manager neighbor and construction workers (none of whom were coming forth with any taller ladders).
"But I don't have the upper-body strength!" I kept protesting, even as I got into position, as there was no other option. He boosted me up, I pulled myself as best I could, and once I got my foot in the bottom ladder rung, I was fine. The rest of the break-in was a piece of cake. I climbed up to our floor, went in the window, back down the four flights for the 150th time in the past day, and let the bf in, whereupon he got to the bathroom and vomited. Jeez, I'm not that heavy, am I? (He has early-morning stomach troubs anyway.) Then he had a little rest on the ceramic tiles. It was an auspicious beginning to moving day one.
Wednesday: Brooklyn to Southern Virginia
We were off: me driving the moving truck with the cat, the bf driving his pickup with the dog. I'm happy to report that, despite the cancer of strip malls that's eating away at the nation, a lot of the country still looks like this.
Western PA and Virginia were all gorgeous rolling farmland. And the farther away we got from the East Coast, the closer we got to God, apparently. Roadside signs read: "REPENT! God will abundantly pardon," "The WAGES of SIN is DEATH" (is that proper English?), and the anti-Ayn Rand sentiment, "Who runs your life, Jesus Christ or Self?" I also spied a JESUS Hardwood Flooring Installation truck and an "America Bless God" bumper sticker. (1. What does that even mean? 2. Proper English?) I regularly spotted supersized crosses in fields, in both original single-cross format and the extra-morbid Golgatha triple-cross format. I thought, Golgatha would be a good band name, especially because it means "place of the skulls." (These guys thought so, too.)
Then I experienced almost hell in West Virgina, at the worst example of a Subway ever. There were four people in front of me and all told, the wait was 25 minutes. That means two kids took 25 minutes to make 5 sandwiches. This might be acceptable if all the components of the sandwiches were not ready to go right in front of these morons' faces. Also at least half of the people in the place were morbidly obese, which rather took away from Jared's weight loss example. I shifted from foot to foot, resisting the urge to go behind the counter and make the sandwich myself, telling myself that my cat was not dying of heat out in the truck. Then they didn't have the veggie patty even though it was on the menu, so I had waited 25 minutes for a soggy gross pocket of vegetables. Mmmmm! Note to self: patience. Not everywhere moves at the pace of a NYC Korean deli. In fact, nowhere else really does.
In southwestern Virginia, just after crossing Route 666 (nobody I texted was as impressed about this as I was...this is shamefully non-metal; Manowar would de-friend people for less) was the first of four or five states to come in which I noticed a creepy botanical phenomenon: to the left of the highway, all trees, rocks and all other structures were blanketed with the leaves of one unknown kind of plant, I'm assuming on vines. The covered trees created the effect of colossal Swamp Thing- like green zombies, frozen in motion. If anyone out there knows what this foliage is called, please tell me, but until then I will call the phenomenon Swamp Thing Zombie Plants.
We stopped for a nap in a Virginia rest area atop a picnic table in a treed area. The chorus of cicadas buzzed us to light sleep. We blearily pressed on but quit at a Super 8 before our goal of Knoxville, just above the border to Tennessee. Then it hit me that we'd really left, and I cried. The bf thought I was a little crazy and overtired. Then I cried and laughed at the same time. Then I slept like the dead.
Thursday: Virginia to Mid-Mississippi
Thursday took us through three states I had never been to before: Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. What stands out most about Tennessee was a super creepola radio station found at 930 AM, Pigeon Forge Radio in the Smoky Mountains, "your source for comedy and fun." I was transfixed by it nearly all the way across the narrow state. I'm not entirely convinced the station was of this time and/or world. There's something otherworldly and out-of-time about AM radio anyway; it always sounds so far away and tinny, but I wasn't sure that 930 AM was even being manned by a human. The canned announcer would introduce a comedy segment from their main man Milton Crabapple, who is the Sheriff of Crabapple County and who always provides "squeaky clean comedy." Then they'd play a segment from Jerry Seinfeld, then a little Tenessee trivia, then another bit from Milton Crabapple, and then another from (you guessed it) Milton Crabapple. They also threw in Ray Romano and one or two of those blue-collar comedians (Men and women are different! Yuk!), but mostly it was ol' Miltie. And to think I was worried that there wouldn't be any good comedy in this Jew-deprived land where we're moving!
Speaking of demographics, evidence of the existence of black people returned to the radio as soon as we crossed into Alabama. R&B and even a wee bit of hip-hop returned to the airwaves, whereas for most of the past few days all I'd heard was (mostly white) pop, rock, and a buttload of country and religious freakazoids.
Alabama has a lovely welcome center complete with rocking chairs lining a back porch. I took Gypsy out in her cage while I waited there to meet up with the bf. The heat and humidity were so oppressive that by the time we left she was panting--a rarely seen tragicomic cat phenomenon.
In Missisissippi as it started getting dark, my phone stopped working. This was bad, as it was the only way my beau and I had of meeting up to stop for the night. At first I thought his phone had the problem, as the message said his phone had been disconnected or was no longer in service. My brain started concocting a scenario in which the bf had been murdered on the dog path at the rest area and for some reason the murderer had also cancelled his phone service. Then I realized how silly that was, and realized my phone was giving that message for everyone I tried calling, and I stopped at a Motel 6 for the night and used their phone. Over an hour of no phone contact had elapsed, though, and my boyfriend was almost frantic when I got him on the phone, certain I'd met some horrible misfortune. But everything was fine. If I had gotten offed, though, I know who (would have) killed me. Probably somebody from here:
Friday: Mississippi to our new home in Baton Rouge
My phone started working again around Louisiana. And hey! Louisiana felt preferable to the previous few states. We finally got to Little Pink around noon on day three. Our yard's welcoming committee consisted of butterflies, geckos, and mourning doves.
Time to unload the trucks in the scorching midday sun. Our friendly neighbors gave us water since our water's not on until Tuesday (don't ask what we're doing about relieving ourselves), saying that Baton Rouge has the number-two best tap water in the country. "Yeah, New York has really good water, too," I replied, feeling like a jerk as I said it. I think New York has the number-one water. Also, this tap water tasted like chlorine. Still, I was melting in a bikini top and shorts, and I drank the hell out of it.
Later, as I began the unpacking, I wondered: what to do with all this storage space in the bathroom? I have an inordinate amount of toiletries and such, but this was far too much for even my collection.
Then I realized: this area must be what's known as a "linen closet." In non-NYC places where people have decent amounts of space, homes have whole closets just for towels and linens! I'll be damned.
After feasting on the first real food in days (from Whole Foods) we headed to the back deck to relax with our local Abita beer, tunes from the iPod and a soundtrack provided by nature: cicada or locust drones--they sounded like monstrous critters. We strung up some lantern lights and watched the dog run around like a goofball. Sitting there not doing much of anything for the first time in days, I felt like I was starting, just starting, to understand the slowed-down appeal of the South. The scariest part--uprooting from home--was over.
It's going to be okay.
Saturday: Baton Rouge to Waco, Texas
It was our first morning in the sunlit house, but we had to set out again that day for Waco. Before leaving, we took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood to check it out. The first unusual phenomenon we noticed was that everybody waves at you. Huh.
We decided to pop in on our friend Mary, who had just moved from Austin the day before (she's in the landscape architecture program with my bf). We soon learned that if you are walking in August in Baton Rouge, 1. It means you don't have a car and 2. There is no "popping in." It was more like sliding in, dripping sweat by the time we got to her place, after what should have been a ten-minute walk but was more like a twenty-minute leisurely stroll through a hazy sauna.
Mary lives in the Garden District, which is resplendant with enormous ancient live oaks and darling houses. Basically the Garden District makes our humble little neighborhood look like a piece of crap.
"We're in trouble," Mary announced quietly on their back deck. We didn't get the full story, as her roommates were in earshot, but apparently they had hit some of what were supposed to be the best bars in town the night before and she was quite disappointed. I don't think I'll have such a gloomy outlook on it as I'm not expecting anything impressive. I'm just anticipating funny material, like when the bf showed me a glossy flyer card for an ultimate fighting competition sponsored by a place called Daquiri's. The bf is glad he's over going out. Amen to that.
Then we were on the road again to Waco, this time we were all in one vehicle except Gyp (who was holding it down at home) with much togetherness.
At Houston we drove through what may have been part of one of those hurricanes that are swirling around about now. We also switched drivers and walked the dog just as a sandstorm hit.
We finished the trek through lovely rural eastern Texas. The funniest thing I wish I got video or a picture of but didn't was a pack of about 15 cows running their asses off, presumably for shelter from the pelting rain. Anyway, here we are in Waco, and today we got to pack up the truck again, before driving back to Baton Rouge tomorrow and unloading the truck again. Awesome! I am going to be so in shape after all this, so that means I get to drink lots of delicious beer and eat lots of delicious cheese.
Ahem. In Conclusion
Due to the time-warping nature of travel, Brooklyn already seems so long ago and far away, but also, you know, not. Those of you who said this would be an adventure were right. I'm glad you understand that's a good thing.
I'm going to get in trouble with the beau for cursing the rest of our move, but I can't resist saying that so far it's been a fortuitous one, considering the amount of things that could have gone wrong. It seemed that so many things happened the way we needed them to. I felt like our combined seven dead grandparents were watching and calling in favors for us (I almost ran out of gas twice and didn't; I missed an exit but the way I took back to the route I needed was scenic rural area and I didn't have to backtrack; we're both pretty banged up but no real injuries, etc.). In fact, I had kept my Nana's umbrella in the cab of the truck with me as a good-luck charm. Am I sounding like a crazy person? Please ignore those last few sentences.