So it’s always hard to start anything after a long hiatus, but if you don’t restart it, than the last time you did it would be the last time you ever did it … and that seems sad. Here’s me sitting down to jot down a quick entry, timed, about where we’ve been and what we’re doing. Apologies to everyone who’s called or written and thought that we’d dropped off the planet: maybe this will serve to announce our continued existence.
We’ve moved since last I updated here, one and a half times. The one time took us from our apartment in upstate Manhattan to my mom’s farm near Barneveld, Wisconsin. Along the way, we moved through the traditional Seven Stages of Moving: Packing the Books, Acquiring Liquor Boxes, Sorting the Crap, Dumping Drawers Into Boxes, Running Out of Tape, Eating Take-Out, and Sweeping. We had a tearful good-bye with Dawn, the sparky actress who had been taking care of Piper for most of the past year, and then Kate and P got on an airplane while I packed the cats, catboxes, wine, computers and other breakables into our blue car and hit the road, heading for Wisconsin.
Flashback 16 years: my orange cat, Carlos, and I drove the same route in my mom’s pickup truck, heading east. Carlos yowled for five minutes and then found car travel acceptable; I snuck him and a shoebox full of cat litter into a motel, after driving 15 hours straight.
Present day: Carlos and Lucy both eventually accepted being contained in their catboxes for the trip west. After a mere eight hours on the road, I consulted my phone and made for a motel. This time I didn’t need to sneak them into the Motel 6 in eastern Ohio, as the place explicitly allowed pets. The heavens opened up overnight, and the car was covered in dew and leftover rain when we came back out to it the next morning.
Over the course of the day of driving, I remembered just how big and flat the midwest can be. In the Northeast, I grew accustomed to relatively short distances between exits on the highways: in Ohio and Indiana, the spaces between the truck stops grew longer and longer. The clouds meandered higher, eventually resolving to become laughably storybook puffs against a bright blue sky. The shoebox of cat litter in the back of the car made a faint maraca-rattle every time I hit a bump, but for the most part the freeways were smooth.
Driving through Gary smelled, of course, like sulfur, eggs and metal, and Chicago’s traffic, while bad, was characteristically not as bad as New York’s. Sometimes it’s not so bad to be the Second City.
I pulled into my mom’s farm around seven that night. Piper seemed unsurprised to see me, but utterly delighted to see her cats riding in boxes. “Carlos and Lucy are here!”, she trilled as I trudged in the door. Parents, apparently, are simply a fact of life: cats are an occasion to celebrate.
There followed nearly six weeks of settling into my mom’s library. K had a long break before her job began, and the weeds around the strawberries and raspberries managed to tickle her periodic need to Clean Things Up. Piper, still with a deep affection for noisy subway trains, found the chickens terrifying for several days. The movers delivered our boxes of stuff, stacking them into a 10x20x8 foot cube with which we’d periodically play Jenga, extracting swimming trunks and bike shorts and a few cords and cables.
With no regular work to do, we spent most days gardening or catching up with friends. We didn’t feel like setting up Piper’s crib, and gambled that she’d sleep in a regular bed: success! (After only two midnight tumbles in a week.) We made sure that the farm felt like home, gambling that Piper would be okay when Kate and I went to Italy for a week around July 4th: success! (We spoke with her via videochat at least once a day, whether she wanted to or not. After the first two days, our visual images began to hold little appeal for her. “All done,” she told us on day five. “All done what?”, we asked her. “All done talking with Mama and Abba,” she said, squirming off my mom’s lap and running off to play with her trains.
Once home, we looked at a series of houses on the market in Madison — lots and lots of things for sale, most of which spend months reluctantly dropping their prices lower and lower. Despite this, we saw nothing that made both of us equally happy, and around September 1st, made the half-move into the house on Adams St in which I’d done a lot of my adolescent growing up.
We’re simultaneously renting it from the family LLC in which I am a third-part owner, so I get to be the landlord and the tenant, both. Piper took this move harder than the one to the farm; we think it’s because Kate’s back at work and P is having to adjust to three days a week of (awesome!) daycare, as well as two days with various grandparents. Plus, we’re still unpacking our ungodly pile of boxes.
My timer just went off, so I’m back to my consulting gig. I feel rusty, writing, and so clearly it’s time to dust off the blog and get back into it.