On Saturday it will be a whole year since we moved into this townhouse. It will also be a whole year since I proclaimed (while standing on the ramp of the moving truck) that they would have to pry my cold, dead hands from the foyer to get me out of this abode and into another one…
Dramatic, I know. I meant it.
Today it is a whole year since we started our cross-country voyage to this new location. We left Santa Fe, NM at around 7 a.m. (we overslept,) and we didn’t get to Tulsa, OK until nearly ten P.M. We would have made it there sooner if the expanse of the state of Texas hadn’t intentionally -and almost imperceptibly- stretched while we were driving through it…you may think this is a joke, but I think they installed an interstate-treadmill just to irritate us.
The conflation of TGG driving cross-country for the first time (while pining for a girl he left behind and then forgot somewhere between Indiana and Ohio,) the oldest (now-defunct) cat meowing and yowling piteously without pause, and J controlling the music made me consider jumping out of the vehicle.
Not only did I consider jumping out, I had to -in fact and in deed- do this several times during the course of each travel day. No, no…nature’s call had nothing to do with it. The bicycle rack we purchased, however, had EVERYTHING to do with it. For some unknown reason (that we’ve yet to figure out) the darned thing decided it wasn’t going to stay put. I set foot on every single state we drove through, not because I was dared to, but because I dared not to: the bike alternated between tipping forward (so that only the rear-tire was visible,) tipping back (so that only the front one was visible,) dangling freely (presumably, although we did not hear it) yelling like Tarzan, and traveling towards the side of the van. By the end of the first day on the road we were ready to ditch the bike (until someone yelled NO NO, REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU PAID FOR IT!!!!,) and set the cat free in the wild and let her fend for herself.
Ahead of us, in the moving van, Dada was completely oblivious to the misery I was facing. I was supposed to ride with him, you see, but TGG’s insecurity and the fact that we soon discovered all our maps failed to mention “ROADWORK FOR MILES AND MILES,” made it necessary for me to ride in the little kids’ car. I would have envied Dada if it hadn’t been because -between the din in the cab of the moving truck and the tinnitus he developed working at a phone bank- his ability to hear anything had almost completely disappeared. We’d stop for a while to eat, stretch our legs, gas up the vehicles, and Dada would be saying “HUH?????” a lot, and understanding entirely the wrong thing. This, along with the seemingly endless road work we encountered state after state after state after…you get the picture, led to enough misunderstandings that we were barely speaking to each other by the time we got “home.”
Well…J was speaking to everyone, and everyone was speaking to J. J was the entertainment coordinator, stop manager, and -generally- the happiest creature to set foot in any of the hotels we stayed at. J was the poster boy for any hotel chain that wants to make itself appear as a reasonable enough facsimile to Disneyland. He’d walk in smiling; bouncing and giggling, twirling around and taking over the entire room…while we all grumbled and grunted, looking through the phone book for a place that would deliver a decent-enough meal at whatever ungodly hour it was. This is what they don’t tell you about small-town America in movies: a lot of places aren’t open after 10 P.M. And those that ARE open, take FOREVER to deliver food.
I think the main thought weaving through the whole trip was “is this a good idea? How’s J going to adapt?” You’d think, seeing him firmly planted on each hotel bed, with his feet up and the TV remote in his hand, that the matter was moot. It wasn’t. On our minds, the whole trip here, was the idea that J might not like it, that he might not adapt. If parents in general worry about what relocation does to their children, parents of autistic individuals worry a little bit more and are a little more consumed by guilt. That, and the increasing deafness caused by a combination of factors, is why they look like they’re yelling at each other while eating a rib sandwich with cole slaw and home fries at some stop along the way.
By the time we arrived and unloaded the truck, by the time we collapsed (exhausted, frustrated, relieved, anxious, smelly and ready to face another entirely different set of challenges ahead of us,) we somehow knew that J would be fine. J, in fact, made us all fine. No sooner had we arrived at “home” and -aside from a faulty air mattress that I will not discuss here- we found our niches and filled them, and knowing that J was comfortable, happy and, well, tolerant of our little quirks made it all worth it.
I still think that it will take quite a bit of convincing to pry me away from this particular abode. Four days before our one-year anniversary in it, I finally think we’re settled in. I finally look at each room and see home, corners full of us rather than our belongings. J, from basement to third level, looks like he’s settled in, comfortable…
The bike is parked in the garage. It has been used maybe three times since we got here. Whenever TGG takes it for a spin around the neighborhood, Dada and I poke our heads out and hum the music from when Miss Gulch rides her bike in The Wizard of Oz…and J smiles…
One cat less. One year after. And we’re as sane as we ever were…not that that’s saying much.