Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Traveling with the Dead

Traveling with my mom wasn't easy. Would her aching body endure the five and a half hour flight to Baltimore? Would she need to use the bathroom when the seatbelt sign was on? Would she ask the person seated on the other side of her a million personal questions? Would I remember all the stuff she needed? Would there be a medical crisis while we were away from home?

A couple days ago I flew to the East Coast  to see my brother and his girlfriend. Reagan Airport in D.C. was where I arrived, but I flew home from Baltimore. As soon as I stepped through the entry doors, I missed her. Isn't it  crazy how you see that lost person out of the corner of your eye, or just rounding a corner ahead of you? My mom was at my side, yet just beyond my reach.

The restaurant where we used to eat is a steak house now instead of a crab place. The table right up front where it was easy to pull up a wheel chair isn't there anymore, so I took a spot at the bar facing a window that looks out into the airport. There's a giant menu right outside, and people walked up to study it while I studied them. It was like an aquarium for people watching as they stood just a couple feet from me, reading the list of things they might possibly indulge in for lunch. In my head I heard the conversation my mom and I  might have had as we discussed one person after another.

I'm sure people watched us too when we traveled together. There were comments on our matching shoes and our silver hair.

Back at home now, I've been enchanted by the moon jellyfish in the marina. It's another world, dreamlike and ghostly.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How to make a long-distance move

I've made a long-distance move before. This isn't my first rodeo. Trouble is that when I made that move from Minnesota to California in the summer of '75, all my belongings fit into a '66 Dodge Coronet. I had boxes of books and a prized antique trunk that my favorite uncle had lined with cedar. I had house plants and clothes. I had a meager amount of kitchen gear that was ample enough to put a meal on the table. There was even a boyfriend and his stuff in that car. And camping gear. It all fit.

The trip wasn't easy. We worried that our old car might overheat. Two of the nights on the road we pitched our tent in places clearly marked as flash flood areas, and it began to rain. We fought bitterly about whether or not to break camp and drive into the night. In fact, the very first night on the road it rained so hard that we did pull up the tent and run, sopping, to the car. The trunk latch was stuck and we had to stand under the deluge until we got it open. That's how I ended up riding naked into the dawn, the car heater blasting my dripping clothes until we were somewhere in Colorado.

Oh--and on that trip, I ended up with a urinary tract infection because the boyfriend didn't believe I really needed to pee when I said I did. And there was a terrible night in a flea-bag hotel with someone  peering through the keyhole or listening at the door. And someone tried to break into the car.

That seems easy now.

Presently, I have a very nice house, stuffed with....stuff, and I'm moving back to Minnesota...into a place half this size. I'm happy about the downsizing. I'm happy about the move. It's the logistics that are making me wish for that younger, unencumbered me.

Long-distance movers present you with windows of time. There's a 3-day window for pick-up and a 9-day window for delivery. I must get to my new place the day before the movers in order to close escrow and have the key to the new place. And movers haul ass. My ass is not about to haul itself anywhere on some dark highway past cocktail hour and a good meal--except into bed. And on the off chance that the movers get slowed down by weather, or schedule glitches of their own, and their ass-hauling plans are derailed, I'll end up in an empty condo resting my old bones on a fold-up yoga mat, or in a hotel bar, muttering about windows.

By the time the movers get here, the belongings sold at auction need to be picked up by their lucky new owners. In order for the auction to take place, I must decide what stays and what goes and organize it into categories so it can be photographed and listed. By the time the movers get here, I must get rid of whatever didn't sell. By the time the movers get here, I must have the stuff I'm taking to Minnesota packed. Long before the movers get here, I must ascertain whether or not Mabel, the aging Prius, is up to making the trip because Mabel will have no margin for error, no time to wait by the roadside for a tow, no time to wait in some small town mechanic's shop for a new part because, you know, the window is either large or small, but I don't know which.

First world problems, for sure. But if you're thinking of downsizing and moving in your senior years, find the window wherein you're young enough to generate the energy you need to put it all together--or wait until the window closes and someone has to do it for you.