I moved back 'home' a year ago (well, a year and 2 weeks ago).
I had been in sticky, muggy, hot, miserable Florida for about 13.
What did I expect? To really come home? No, not really.
I didn't expect much, honestly.
The recession was in full swing (is it much different now? not sure).
I had been unemployed going on 8ish months, my (relatively new) wife had been laid off 3 months as well.
We were getting desperate. The wolves were at the door, and I didn't even own the wall our back's were up against.
My Mamaw had just died (a week or so prior to the wife being laid off), and the family house across from the parents' was empty.
An offer was made, and accepted with mercenary glee.
A month of prep, and fear of the unknown (wife had never left Fla) combined itself with a growing realization that we may not have to move into a 'trailer down by the river' to raise our parasite (the cat)and keep the elements out of our morning gruel (or possibly, morning cat, thus relieving two burdens at once).
The selling began. I cast about amongst friends (and local jewelry shops) to find anyone who wanted to acquire my collected junk (I'm a pack-rat/collector) while my wife half.com/craigslist/ebayed anything she could. We shed STUFF like a couple of panicked fashion models try to shed inches, they can ill afford to, right before the fashionista season.
We priced out trailers, after installing a trailer hitch on a CRV that (so help me God) whimpered when it realized what the 'upgrade' was for. (note to self, if UHaul rents it, you CANNOT find it cheaper to buy ANYWHERE, no matter how much you've convinced yourself prices 'should be close to what you remembered in High School').
A couple weeks of furious 'bye everybody' gatherings, with friends and family, that grew harder for her every day. (I kind of disconnected. I do that. I don't like it but I do).
Then that Saturday, the last one in June, rolled around. A few friends showed up during the day to say final goodbyes, and help pack the vehicles. One was there ALL day (thank you again, Josh). From nearly the moment I started, to the moment I was kicking out bodies to get some vague semblance of sleep. It was hard, watching years of built up life condensed into a CRV (hooked to the largest trailer it could pull) and a Kia Spectra.
We laid down on an inflatable mattress and tried to sleep. I took an Ambien (I am an insomniac extraordinaire) and settled in...and settled, and shifted, and settled. I failed to sleep. Paranoia (did I mention I'm a little twitchy) about the trailer being broken into, combined with excitement about the drive (I love driving) and my wife's well being (not only had she never left her home state, but she doesn't like driving and had NEVER driven like this before) burned me clean through the sleeping pills. At 5am I gave up, woke the spouse (who has NO such sleeping issues, and had hit REM almost as fast as her head hit the pillow) to begin our sojourn an hour early.
We drugged the cat. It was our only recourse. The vile beast HATED cars...detested them (why couldn't we have just gotten a dog...just because it purrs in your hands at the adoption center does NOT mean a cat actually loves you, it just sees an easy mark).
And we drove.
We drove north.
1019 miles from driveway to driveway.
With the trailer, a trip that would normally take me 14 hours (except on the Wed before Thanksgiving...that took me 20) consumed 24 plus. The CRV (bless it's little engine-that-could) was taxed. The trailer was so overloaded that every time I hit a bump the hitch risked scraping. The tires looked almost flat (at our first stop, but I was willing to just 'ignore it' in the interest of forging ahead).
The wife would call me every so often to prove that the drugs we had forced upon the beas..I mean cat..were not as strong as we had hoped, as was evidenced by the angry, yet somehow slurred, mewing.
The hotel bed consumed me after the first 12 hours, and I slept..hard.
Oh, did I mention the A/C in my car was out? Had been for a couple months. A friend donated a little fan for the drive. It stirred the soup, that was my cockpit, sluggishly. I think it helped, but in that hottest of southern weeks (it was record-breaking level hot in GA) I may not have noticed if the A/C had suddenly started working.
Day 2 of the drive was just as hot, but we both had slept well in the hotel. I was refreshed, and we were past the halfway point (of both the trip, and that muggy pit that is GA). We drove.
Other than feline griping (both with sharps against any offending digit that would get near her cage door, and loud yet still slurred mewing) we were in good spirits. My wife had gotten a day of that driving under her belt, and felt more comfortable. She was lane blocking for me with gusto (when I needed to change lanes, a rarity when topping out at 60mph...my norm for the trip being 80), listening to the 'Hitchiker's guide' on a CD, and generally in a fine fettle.
12 more hours later, 12 uphill-hours (oh Gawds the poor CRV was whining by then) and we hit the stretch of I-75 from Cincinnati to Dayton. Everything started looking familiar. I began to actually wake up, not the fugue-state consciousness that hat pervaded the last 3 days of my life, but really awaken.
Around Hamilton I was violated by Big Butter Jesus (that was new, and omigawd vile).
Then we pulled into the driveway. No joke, that's what my mind tells me. Everything after BBJ was a blur. Familiarity seemed to take over, and I remember the driveway. The old Grandparent's house, the parent's house, Salem Avenue leading up to Meadow..it was all kind of a blur. A happy, familiar and comforting blur.
The parental reunion (where we remembered it was my Mother's birthday...amazing what gets pushed out of your cabeza when you're driving 2 days with your entire existence on your proverbial back), the entry into the new abode, meals, showers (egads, the hot water heater was down...ack) etc.
The flurry to unpack the trailer (had to be returned the next day).
The loss of the cat (unfortunately for me it was IN the house and was rediscovered later).
The organization (the wife goes all OCD under stress, and hadn't been able to express her stress for 3 days).
And it was happy for me. It became happy for her.
But it was not home.
It was new, it was different.
We re-discovered my old friends (over the next year, thank you F-Book..oh, and thanks ALOT Deb, for getting me smoking again...grrr) ;)
Wife discovered new ones, good ones and great ones (SQUIRREL!).
We organized, cleaned and 'moved into' a house that was at once very familiar to me, and utterly new to her.
We settled in, gaining direction and sense of being.
We 'discovered' my Parents. I, after years of seeing them once every other year or so, she for the first time (really...they didn't get to 'know' each other after meeting maybe 3 times in 3 years).
I re-discovered a hobby group, and like friends.
I got a job (woot, thanks John)!
She went back to school, and found school friends.
She discovered Autumn, and I reveled in it.
She discovered snow.
I re-discovered snow.
We both reveled in it!
And somewhere, somewhen, somehow...it became...