I have moved a lot, and when I say a lot I mean seven times in 14 years. Here is a reflection on move #5, on the blessing of good friends who rose to the occasion, and on the excitement of life’s fresh starts.
I didn’t know if I’d find enough work. I didn’t know what my new apartment looked like. I had no idea I’d eventually buy a house, be the worst player on a kickball team, discover soul-mate friends, get a black eye when a jug fell on my face, or sing back-up for Larnelle Harris on a TBN television special.
I knew none of these things. I knew only that a father-son combo, both named Abel, had loaded a moving truck with all my earthly possessions (“We’ve also moved Chuck Norris!” they said), and I was on American Airlines flight 586 getting ready for a long trip to Nashville with a shaking and scared cat named Louie under my seat.
Six months earlier I’d lost my job at a financial firm in southern California, one of the 13 victims of their euphemistic “reduction in force.” After considering my employment options, all of them almost as boring as the job I’d just lost, I decided to try working for myself as a writer and editor closer to family on the east coast.
So today was The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life. And I really hoped it was going to get better. At 5:30 that morning, my two best friends had arrived at my front door to jointly accompany me to the airport. On my wrist I wore a bracelet with a chain designed to hook into a loop on Louie’s collar, because apparently runt-of-the-litter shorthair cats carrying explosives are a real terrorist threat. Even if he panicked when I carried him through security, he would not be able to wriggle free and get loose in the airport. The prospect of this scenario had haunted me for weeks.
The plan was to have my duffel bag and carry-on ready to go, wrangle Louie into his carrier right before we left, and head out without incident for an emotional goodbye at the airport. It was a good plan. What really happened was: I lifted Louie into the carrier, he contorted his little torso in valiantly stubborn resolve to make sure only three of his four legs stayed inside the plastic box at any one time, his collar snapped, he ran downstairs to hide behind the vertical blinds, and eight weeks of pent-up anxiety, stress, grief, and exhaustion decided now was their moment.
I sat on the floor, head on my knees, and wept. “I don’t know what’s going to happen when I take him out at the airport because look how crazy he gets and what if he gets free and runs away and hides—I’ll never find him and he’ll be so terrified and he’s just a little thing and I can’t stand to think of him being so scared. And it will be humiliating and what if I can’t get him back in the carrier again and what if this was a terrible idea? My flight leaves in two hours!”
Heather took charge with a plan for a new collar and sprinted out to the open-all-night grocery. Kari Ann fetched tissues and water and coaxed Louie into his carrier. By the time we regrouped at the airport I had dried my tears, and the actual walk through security was anti-climactic, with Louie clinging to me in fear and burying his head in the bend of my elbow.
Now we were minutes from landing in Nashville, and the time difference and long flights meant it was already eight in the evening. I still had to find the Hertz desk (Abel-Squared had my car, too), find a Target for basic provisions, and find my way to the apartment.
I lift the carrier to my lap. Louie reluctantly allows me to poke my fingers inside and scritch between his ears. “We’re Nashvillians now,” I whisper.
Photo (Flickr CC) by frankieleon