The day we left Connecticut started early. The kids, dogs, and I slept in a big pile on the floor in the mostly empty master bedroom with the only working air conditioner in the house. We were a massive tangle of blankets, legs, feet, arms, and tails, and it took some doing to extricate myself when the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m.
Salvation Army pick up requires the items curbside by 7:00 a.m. I knew I needed help with the 6'x3' farm table from the kitchen, but I wanted to do as much of the rest by myself before waking everyone up. So I made what felt like a hundred trips carrying patio furniture, a bench, bags of toys and clothes, and other assorted castoffs to the curb. The moment came when I had no other choice but to rouse my sleeping 14-year-old and ask for her help with the heavy, awkward table. Grace and magnanimity in the early morning have never been her strengths, but she dragged herself downstairs to help.
And then she dropped the damn table on my toe.
It was an accident, and I knew it. I doubled over and slipped into silent-scream mode for a full two minutes before recovering the ability to speak in a normal voice. She was yammering on about how it slipped and she didn't mean to drop it and and she didn't have a good grip and I was going too fast... At some point, I stopped crying and said, "Baby, I'm not blaming anybody! It just hurts!" She stopped talking then, and a few minutes later, we picked up the table and carried it the rest of the way out.
With the Salvation Army stuff sorted, I switched gears to get ready for the carpet cleaners to arrive. Everything in any of the rooms upstairs had to come downstairs, including sleeping bags, blankets, children, and dogs. I went to get donuts and coffee, and the cleaners arrived before I got back. They waited semi-patiently in the driveway, but it couldn't have made more than a five-minute dent in their schedule. Once they saw me alone with three kids, two dogs, and an empty house, their attitude softened a little.
While the carpet cleaners were working, Salvation Army came and rejected about half of what I had set aside for them. I won't lie, I didn't see that one coming. Oh, well. It was time to shift gears and take one of the dogs to LaGuardia for her flight to Texas. We ran by the vet's office to satisfy the official requirement of a vet check-up within 24 hours of the flight and get the necessary paperwork, made one stop at the Petco in Norwalk to buy the assorted items required for shipping an animal by air freight, and then we booked it down to Queens.
Getting the dog on the flight added such a surreal element to the day. At one point, I registered that my toe was throbbing, and I was still wearing my mismatched running assortment, still without underwear, but at that point, standing in the middle of one of the major airports serving New York City, I could not convince myself to care even a little bit. "I will never see these people again" kept running through my mind, both consolation and lament.
Back to Connecticut after the dog took off, and it was time to deal with all that stood in the way of us getting on the road, which included: the Salvation Army's leftovers; several overlooked drawers and a cabinet in the kitchen; all the sleeping bags and gear from the night before, plus the bags we'd packed for the road trip; birth certificates, passports, my cameras, and other assorted stuff too important to send on the moving truck.
What happened next is kind of a blur. I remember my daughter saying, "It's never all going to fit." She was right, but I still contend we managed to squeeze in all the important stuff somehow. We did have to jettison quite a bit, some going into the trash pile, the rest going back in the house for our beloved housekeeper/nanny/angel to redistribute to her church or wherever she decided it needed to go.
The trash people came and overcharged me by about $100, but whatever. They had me over a barrel, and they knew that I knew that they knew it. They did agree to come back one more time in the morning for all the stuff we still hadn't processed. I hope they actually did; I really have no way of knowing.
At some point, we wedged ourselves into the car around all our various assorted stuff. I made the kids let me take a quick selfie, then we pulled out of the driveway of our home. I want to write all kinds of stuff about how much I loved that house, how connected I felt (and still feel) to those rooms and walls and grass and trees, but when I try to find words, I'm only capable of keening.
(My son saw me working on this post and asked to look at the picture at the top. He said, "I look a lot happier than I actually felt at that moment." Don't we all, baby. Don't we all.)
We backed out of the driveway and turned the car in the direction of one last business stop to drop off the cable boxes, remotes, and assorted paraphernalia. We got gas in Newtown and turned west on I-84 toward New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania--the first stop of the Great Gordon/Moore Migration. We left approximately eight hours later than expected.
Any kind of life as we knew it came to an end.
But that was kind of the point.
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.