While catching up on a few of my favorite blogs recently, I came across one post on Hot Chocolate Caramel Mocha that inspired me to take you guys on a journey back in time to the weekend that I moved from Buffalo, New York to Orlando, Florida. When someone plans to move 1800 miles away from the city in which they were born and raised, you would think that person would spend at least a few weeks in advance preparing for the journey. And most normal people would. Just not me. Nope. A week beforehand, I did take the initiative to have school transcripts forwarded. But I truly did not pack one single thing. Of course I thought about what needed to be packed, how it should be done, and the most efficient way to transport everything to Orlando. But the actual doing of these things didn’t happen until the night before, when my husband flew back up so that he could help me drive down. And I’ll explain my definition of the word “help” at another time.
My husband thought that the weekend of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday would be a great time to move, because we would have an extra day to recuperate before he had to head back to work. He was already somewhat established in Orlando, and expected the process of us joining him to be fairly seamless. With a normal person, I’m sure it would have been. But I don’t make anything easy because, well, there’s no excitement in that. You can imagine his dismay when he walked into the house and there was not a single box to be seen. Not a piece of evidence that someone was soon to be coming or going. Clothes still folded in dressers, dishes still in cabinets, and a refrigerator full of food. Yeah, dismay probably isn’t a strong enough word to describe his feelings at that moment. He snapped his metaphorical whip and everyone pitched in and helped make everything move-friendly. It was an all night event of taking down shower curtains, boxing up dishes, and deciding what not to bother bringing with us. Not to mention, there were three children in the house at the time that still required some form of parenting. It was a very long night.
My mom dropped by to kiss everyone goodbye, and volunteered to clear out anything that we had to leave behind once we were gone. I can’t tell you how thankful I was for that. She was sad to see us go, but knew in her heart that we were making a better life for ourselves and found peace in that. My sister dropped by with my two nephews so that they could wish us well. It was heartbreaking to see them hugging Viejito, telling him that they would miss him.
My husband eventually fell asleep exhausted, and I stayed up a little longer to try and make up for being an absolute slacker during the month that I should have been preparing to move. In the midst of folding towels, there was a tentative knock on the door. Another one of my sisters was at the door with Ammeh Donia, their arms full of treats for us to take on the road. Setting the boxes on the floor, I squeezed them both tight and fought back tears. I knew it would be a while before I saw them again.
We woke up bright and early that Saturday morning, had a quick bite to eat, and made our way to my brother’s store to say goodbye to one brother I hadn’t had a chance to see yet. We said our goodbyes, and he told me to hang on while he went to get something out of the office. He came back out a few minutes later carrying a big box of cake donuts for me to take along. That’s kind of an inside joke, a blog post for another day. He hurriedly pushed me out of the store, not wanting to risk his manhood status by crying in front of me. I was thankful for that, because it took everything in me to keep it together right then.
Originally, I was supposed to drive us out of Buffalo in ceremonial fashion. That didn’t exactly happen as planned. My husband took the driver’s seat willingly (though he will always claim it was by force rather than choice), and put us on the road. I managed to stay awake long enough to cross the state line before I took my own side trip to Dreamland. For anyone who might have considered planning a road trip with me, I will have you know that I am not the best travel buddy. I did open my eyes periodically throughout the trip but for the most part, the back side of my eyelids served as a black canvas for my subconscious. I remember a little of what the snow covered mountains looked like in West Virginia, and how adamant my husband was that everyone hold their liquids until we cleared that state. The scenery was breathtaking. The people, not so much. No offense to any readers from West Virginia.
It’s funny how you can be surrounded by stink, and not realize it until you step out of the car for a few minutes and then get back in. Thing One and Thing Two were just barely a year old, and still in diapers. I don’t know what they both ate that disagreed with them, but it was making its way out of their bodies via both exits. We pulled up to a rest stop to use the loo and toss garbage (which included a boatload of dirty diapers) After being exposed to fresh air, getting back in the car was almost unbearable. The stench of vomit and diarrhea thickened the air and made it hard to breathe. The twins were completely oblivious to their funk factor.
Rock Hill, South Carolina was where our backsides had become completely numb, and we decided to rest at a hotel there overnight. It felt so good to stretch out in a bed after having been on the road for fifteen hours. I hear what you are thinking. Yes, being a sleeping passenger on a road trip takes a lot out of you. I probably should have let Viejito take the front passenger seat, because he didn’t sleep for the entire trip. Can you believe that? A five year old, who was so fascinated by the world passing by his car window that he managed to stay awake for over fifteen hours straight.
The next morning (after bathing some very odorous children), we got back on the road by 7:00. I don’t recall what time we crossed the Florida state line, but it was sometime early in the afternoon. I remember touching the window, amazed at how warm it felt. I glanced down at the winter coat that I’d shed a few states ago, knowing our time together had come to an end. With the shedding of that coat came the closing of a chapter of my life. And the opening of a new chapter, I thought as I marveled at skies that dared to be so blue in January.