Cruising along at 38,000 feet heading to San Francisco to pick up my children and bring them “home”, it might be a good time to finally tell the tale of the last…oh… week or so. Heaven help me, it’s been insane.
So last Monday, half my ward showed up and loaded all my earthly possessions into a sixteen foot Penske truck. It was wretchedly emotional, as has already been documented, but by Monday night, it was done. The kids and I headed off to spend our last night in Washington state with our good friends, and left the truck and trailer in the driveway of Little House.
Tuesday morning before the sun was up, I took my kids to the airport and put them on a flight down to California to stay with family while I dealt with the sure-to-come chaos of actually moving. That wasn’t the original plan, but as Patton said, “The best laid battle plans seldom survive first contact…” Or something like that. Anyway. They flew, for the first time ever, as unaccompanied minors. I would rather pack that moving truck alone three times over than to again put my kids on a plane without me. I’m a pro flyer, but there’s just something about handing your babies over to strangers that is gut-wrenching. Yes, all the safety measures were in place, the lanyards were around the necks, it was a direct non-stop under-two-hours flight… still. I bawled my eyeballs out for a good two hours, until I got the call that their plane had landed and they were safely delivered.
Onward. Once the kids were safely having fun with cousins, it was time for me to head back to Little House and load my car onto the trailer. When I got there, my friends were already there— buckets, mops and Mister Clean in hand— and hard at work clearing out the inevitable leftovers and making the place spotless. Tears were had by all.
Now, I have some pretty amazing friends- that’s just a longstanding fact. I have tremendous community and support both in real life, and from the online friends via Dandelion, BCC and Facebook. But do you know that not one, but TWO people volunteered to fly across the country and drive my moving truck for me? Yes. So my next job was to go pick up my friend Mark from the airport, where he was flying in from Texas, to drive my moving truck across a continent. It blows me away to even type that sentence.
(some of you may know Mark- he’s emeritus at BCC, a former Bishop, and has taken my kids fishing in summer past; if you don’t know him, you really should- a finer gentleman could not be found. Mark told me he’d moved all of his sons this way, and he was delighted to do it for and my kids)
Moving on. Enter chaos. Some professional obligations came up, and Mark’s flight ended up being delayed- his original plan was to have him fly in that Tuesday morning, and to hit the road immediately. But suddenly he was not going to be able to arrive until much later in the afternoon. The problem was, I had a flight to DC that afternoon too. I had arranged to fly ahead of him so I would have two days to paint and putter around, and be ready when he arrived Friday morning.
Now I had to figure out how to make my flight (non-refundable, of course) and also find someone to pick Mark up from the airport, transfer all the paperwork, give him the cash from the garage sale (which was the gas money for the truck) and all the keys. All while leaving my truck, trailer, car and every earthy belonging sitting in the driveway of Little House. There was a moment of desperation, I admit. Also, have I mentioned what amazing friends I have? There were several friends who told me not to worry, they had it covered. My last afternoon in Washington was spent having lunch with my one of my dearest friends, before she took me to the airport. In her possession I left every last thing I owned. Including all my money. Tears were had by all.
And with that, I flew away.
But not very far. I had a stopover and plane change in Denver. Now, I like DIA as far as airports go- it’s well laid out, clean, modern and not full of cavernous wasted space (hello, IAD or IAH). But… an hour is just enough for a stopover. Three hours… not so much— especially when you’re trying to phone the driver of your moving truck to find out what time he gets in and coordinate with people on the ground 1000 miles away. Hours went by… Still I could not get ahold of Mark. Panic was starting to set in- I was worried about him, and I was worried about a plan B, if something had happened, I now needed to consider who/how to get to drive the loaded truck. Should I turn around and go back and do it myself? Waves of helpless frustration and anxiety.
As I was boarding my now very-late flight to IAD, Mark called. Relief. He was still en-route, as his meeting took far longer than anticipated, but he’d be in early the next day.
Instead of landing at 10 pm in Virginia, my flight touched down at after 1 am. Did I mention trying to coordinate friends from states away? Thank heavens for flexible and willing friends.
The next morning, after crashing hard on an air-mattress in my utterly empty townhouse, I got to work painting. And painting. And painting some more. It was kind of therapeutic to be alone and quiet and doing something so simple after the unmitigated chaos of the week. Turns out Mark’s flight got routed all over the country, via IAH, OKC, PHX and finally GEG. He didn’t arrive until nearly 11 the following night. Again, my friends came to the rescue, picked him up, took him to Little House, transferred every needful thing. Mark hammered it and headed east. Yes, at midnight.
We’re now two days behind, and I’m trying to keep all the kind folks (most of whom don’t— or didn’t— know me, but who had offered to help) up on the latest intel for arrival and unloading. But I don’t have internet yet in the townhouse. Or a car. Lowe’s is close enough to the new place to walk, which was nice, but I was starting to go stir crazy, and panic a little at my need to let people know what was happening. And Lowe’s doesn’t offer free wifi.
And entire afternoon on my cell with Comcast (literally 1 hour 29 mins on hold at one point) finally netted me a technician and an apology for not making the original appointment. It was supposed to be done the day I got there. An apology, mind you, but not a refund of the installation fee. *sigh* There’s only so much fight I have in me some days.
Onward. Now wired, I let the kind folks who had offered to help on Friday know that now we were looking at Saturday. Many of them generously moved things in their own lives to make themselves available.
Saturday came. And Saturday went. It’s probably a good thing, in retrospect, that Mark forgot his car charger for his phone; that way he missed the 29 times I tried to call. I had no idea where he was or when he would be arriving. And on Saturday evening, I had a houseful of new friends waiting to help unload the truck. But no truck.
We all sat on the floor and had Cafe Rio for dinner and got to know each other… but by about 10 pm, folks had to leave. To make a very very long story short, the name of my street also happens to be a town in southern Virginia. GPS doesn’t know the difference, apparently, and there was a 300 miles detour. At close to midnight, I was standing out in the middle of my street, literally jumping for joy and crying with relief when Mark pulled the giant dinosaur of a truck up in front of my house. Tears were shed by all.
Oh yeah… it’s midnight. Crap. Now what? We managed to offload my car, dump the trailer at the Marriott around the corner and unload over half the truck before sheer exhaustion won out. I don’t even know what time it was.
Sunday morning, I threw a bat-signal onto Facebook and asked if anyone in the NoVA area felt like getting the ox out of the mire. People showed up. One man, whom I had never met before but who is also a part of an online Mormon board, drove to the chapel, spoke to the bishop (who already knew who I was) and returned with two Missionaries plucked straight from Sacrament meeting. It was one of the most lovely examples of the beauty of our community I could have imagined.
The truck was unloaded in short order. The Elders were returned to church. And Sunday carried on.
Never, through all of this, was there not some friend— whether old and well established, or brand new— waiting with open arms. Say what you might about our peculiarities, but there are some things we do as a people that when we get right, we get really really right. There are simply no words, yet again, for me to thank or express my love and humility at the service provided for me and my children.
I am SO READY to be on the giving end. I’ve got a direction book and a set of blueprints on how to do it right, and I can’t wait to open that sucker up and get to work.
So now, I’m on a flight to San Francisco, due to land in about three hours, where I will see some family and friends, pick up my overjoyed kiddos, and take them home. Tears will be had by all, I have no doubt.
Thank you, one and all- in whatever manner you supported and loved us- be it with your muscles, sweat, time, food, cleaning supplies, hugs, or prayers. It was felt. You are loved back.