Extended Interruption (Part 6)

The last time….

Departure day.

Last night, we were spending our last night in the house we had called home for 16 years. Lacking a mattress, I set up the camping mattress. It was a double size air mattress that would sit on this weird expanding frame. The whole thing folded up into a rolling package of 10″x10″ by 30″. I finally got the mattress blown up with the air pump, threw some sheets on it and a blanket and gingerly crawled onto it around 1 a.m.

It was not a good night sleep.

We learned that if one of us moved, the air in the mattress would shift and well, it was like sleeping on an angry sea. I think I may have slept 4 hours, my wife, probably less. But I was up at 7:30, as usual, to let the dogs out and feed all the fuzzy residents of the house. It was a morning as usual without the furniture, pictures on the wall, TV, plants and carpets. The house echoed with every step, every item placed on the counter, every word uttered, every breath. It was sad.

My wife got up and I opened up the cars. There was a slight November chill in the air and the sight of my breath in the air reminded me of days going mountain biking at Allaire State Park just 15 minutes away. I smiled to myself and admitted that those days were over.

By now, April and Joe had shown up with bagels and Dunkin Donuts coffee, which I would soon learn would be the last for a long, long time. We sat at the bar in the kitchen and very soon realized that those bagels would be the last meal we’d eat in that house. Melancholy sets in.

The new plan. Deb would take the dogs and our cat Jack and whatever else we could fit in her Honda Pilot. April and Joe would drive my Jeep and the Jeep would be loaded to the gills. Inside would be all of my guitars, all 12. On the roof rack, in the roof bag, would be 3 coolers and overnight bags, it would be packed full. There would be a hitch rack and a rack bag which would hold the vacuum, bags of dog food and whatever else could fit in there. Hanging off the lift gate of the Jeep would be my two bicycles, my prized Storck Road Bike and my Trek Mountain bike. Most prised of my possesions would be my cat Itsy Bitsy. Itsy was used to me being in the car but now he’d be in the car and I wouldn’t be there. I was worried for him. April would be driving (Joe doesn’t have a license) and she was nervous. She had never driven that far in a vehicle that was loaded down as it was.

We elected to sedate the cats for what we thought would be a 9 to 11 hour ride. Including stops for fuel and pee breaks. The sedative we gave the cats would last for 12 hours.

Finished with our breakfast, we started loading the vehicles. As we neared completion, we started finding smaller items that we didn’t account for and one thing we had no room for. We shoved the smaller things into the back of the packed 26′ box truck. I opened the back enough to slide in smaller items, brooms, small rugs, blankets, tools, etc. We packed and stuffed and in every nook and cranny in every vehicle. Into the cab of the big box truck I would be driving, with all of our worldly possessions, we stuffed more things, tools, my backpack with my Surface computer and whatever else.

We were all packed. Nothing to do but leave. The only disappointment was that we would have to leave behind Bruce for the new owners to take care of.

Bruce the Cactus, stays in New Jersey.

Sadly, the cactus that is spawn of the original cactus, that is 35 years old, would be left behind for the new owners. We just had no room for him. I was disappointed. Imagine you have something that has been with you for 35 years and you had to leave it behind, no longer taking up space in your home for no other reason than to give you joy with its resilient every growing existence. Bruce was part of our lives like one of the dogs, always there to greet you when you walked in the door and in the way when you needed to do something in that area or when decorating for Christmas. So long Bruce, until we meet again.

For the last time, after the complete idiot check, we closed and locked the door behind us. Sally, our realtor, stopped by to pick up the “Sold” sign and agreed to take one last picture of us at the house. There were tears and deep sadness that we were leaving this place we called home.

Ted, Deb and April…. The last time here.

We each got settled in our vehicles for the hours ahead and I instructed each them to keep this big yellow rolling box in their sights at all times and to keep in touch via our cell phones. I climbed in the truck and sat on its bouncy sprung seat and turned the key. The boat roared to life and I let it idle for a few minutes. I gave one last look at the house and released the parking brake. The rush of air signaled it was released and I put the automatic transmission in drive. Pulling away from the house, I could feel the stress of it all level off, even if just a bit.

We were on the road and headed home, 612 miles to the south.

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