A year ago today we moved to Philadelphia. Hard to believe. Going through that moving process (and then having to move again a few months later) was one of the things that made me confident about marrying Shaun, from a daily-life-compatibility perspective. It was a hard, intense, stressful experience, and we both hated it, but we didn’t hate or resent each other at any point, and I take that as an excellent indicator for our future.
We decided to drive through the night — I think to avoid traffic? So we didn’t get up terribly early in the morning, but when I woke up I went to get the moving truck while Shaun got all his boxes ready to load. Oh, yes, I should also mention that two days earlier Shaun had gotten sick, and when Shaun gets sick (which, thankfully, is rare), he gets a high fever which leaves him completely flattened in bed for a day or so. I’d had visions of having to do nearly all the box-carrying and truck-driving myself, but fortunately he was at least mobile and generally functional by moving day.
We loaded up his stuff, then took a lunch break, then drove to my place to load up all mine. I hated driving the moving truck… driving big vehicles makes me nervous anyway, but the killer was the car-towing rig on the back. When turning I just didn’t know how it was going to move, and when driving straight I couldn’t see it at all, so I just had to take it on faith that the car was still behind me. In retrospect, we should have just gotten rid of the car in Atlanta… it was near breaking down already, and the guy who showed me how to operate the towing rig didn’t fasten it right and did some pretty severe damage to the undercarriage of the car. I don’t think we ever drove it in Philly, so we wasted the money for the rig and whatever fuel usage it added. And the people we were living with somewhat resented its presence in the driveway, and it’s not like we were lacking in other sources of resentment there.
I think we left in the evening sometime. Saying goodbye to Atlanta was sad for me; it’s the city I became an adult in, and I’ve always felt an uptick in confidence and independence just being there, with all the associations it has for me. Then, too, we were leaving a place where I had a strong network of old friends, and going to a place where I knew nobody. I was excited about the move, but very sad too.
One of the cats pooped about fifteen minutes after we hit the road. I have since learned that he can be relied upon to do this any time I put him in his cat carrier. Fortunately I had put pads down in the crates and brought along extras, so I could just change the pad out the first time we stopped. This was the first time I’d moved with pets, and I was anxious about that. George wanted nothing more than to curl up in his crate and pretend this horrible thing wasn’t happening to him, but Paz wanted to get out and explore, and after a while we let him. I was very nervous about letting him get to the driver’s side, but Shaun said not to worry about it — until he walked across the dashboard right in front of Shaun’s line of sight and Shaun shouted “Get him down! Now!” and it was all very scary for a few seconds, and then I pretty much made Paz stay on my lap and look out the window.
We stopped in Columbia, SC for a break: Shaun and I have a very similar philosophy on road trips, which involves taking prolonged stops in cities you drive through, and trying to get right into the center of the city instead of just stopping at a Cracker Barrel on the outskirts. So we each had one beer, and walked around for a while. I had a little bit of a hunger crisis, because the kitchen of the bar we went to had just closed, and there wasn’t a lot open at that time of night, and I was in that state where I’m too hungry to be rational and couldn’t stand the thought of eating pizza or a pita wrap, and was near tears because I was so hungry but couldn’t find appealing food, and I’m sure the stress was a contributing factor too… and then we spotted a street vendor and I had a kielbasa and it was the most delicious thing ever, and happiness was restored. And I got excited about moving to a city that has street vendors.
We actually did sing the entirety of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” Somebody called us in the middle, I forget who, but when we were done chatting we picked up where we’d left off. Shaun suggested doing 999 Bottles next, but I said NO.
At some point in the wee hours of the morning we stopped for fuel and there was an issue with Shaun’s debit card (I think the problem turned out to be that he’d used it so many times in so many states that day). That was a definite low point, as we were both exhausted and had a very low tolerance for frustration. I just had to remind myself, “Of course we’re frustrated and unhappy: we’ve been driving all night after a day spent loading furniture, we have hours left to go, and one of us is sick. Life Overall is not horrible, just this particular moment of it.”
Things picked up quite a bit, of course, when the sun rose and we had less than two hours to go. And Shaun, who had been pining for his home city pretty much every day since I’d met him, was very happy to be there, and my general “new place! new things!” excitement was considerably augmented by my knowing how happy he was.
On the down side, we still had all of our earthly possessions to unload before we could rest. The bed was at the very back of the truck, which I had very mixed feelings about: I wanted nothing more than to lie down RIGHT NOW, but I knew it would be better to get the unloading over with before we slept, and I also knew that I would never have had the motivation if there’d been an option not to. (Shaun probably would have, because he’s much better about the “work now, rest later” thing than I am, so then I probably would have resented him for making me work, instead of accepting it as an inevitability. So, bed at back of moving truck: good plan, would use again.)
Then we slept into the afternoon, which was amazingly wonderful. Then we got up and left the house to begin exploring our new neighborhood… where, as it turned out, we lived for less than three months. I had my very first pizza steak (which is a cheesesteak with marinara and which exceeded my expectations for deliciousness.) We made plans to eat at all the tiny authentic-looking Ecuadorian and Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, very few of which we actually fulfilled. Life now is very different than we thought it was going to be, that day. Mainly awesomer. Also more expensive, and with the sting of resentment and broken relationships attached to a couple of people… but mainly awesomer.
Happy anniversary, Philadelphia! I like you a lot, and I think we should stay together. How about you?