If we're lucky we'll end up speeding down some deserted two-lane highway on a makeshift moped in rural South Dakota, trying to outwit a maniacal Big Rig driver. It would be very "Dumb and Dumber" meets "Duel".
So I realized when we flew back from Sacramento on Sunday night that we only have about three weeks left here in DC. THREE weeks. I've waited for this moment since September 2007, and for the last three years I've glanced at the calendar on my phone and grown irritated at how many blocks of months were still ahead of us. More nights than I can remember I would pop open a cold can of soda and stand by the fridge, longingly tracing my finger over the all those months left on the kitchen calendar under my Mrs. Robinson magnet. But somehow those blocks of month became strips of weeks, and now what's left are mere standalone days.
I know what it might sound like, that I was miserable here and I had no life other than to obsess over my moving date like a teenager obsesses over prom, but it was the contrary. As much as it pains me to admit it I've had lots of fun here, met some awesome people and have more than enough memories with J, with new-found friends, with DC, to tote into the next chapter of my life. But through all those good times the Lola calendar on our fridge was still a lingering reminder that my time here wasn't permanent. As slow as the days seemed to amble along, as slow as the months continued to pass, the calendar eventually tapered and now we're down to mere weeks. I've waited a long time for May of 2010 to arrive and the fact that it's finally here is completely surreal, kemosabes.
Reserving our moving truck last week was what finally made it sink in that we're leaving. Luckily I got an automatic 15% off code on the Budget Truck website and I was thisclose to signing up for their AARP discount but decided against it after a heated discussion with J about how we could totally get away with pretending like we were 60-year-old adults (J, always my ethical voice of reason, talked me out of it only after he called me "crazy" about 300 times. My response: "It's the crazy ones that get ahead in this world."). Never underestimate the power of strategically placed prosthetic makeup and a doctored drivers license.
Without that coveted senior discount, the truck cost about $1,600, including a hitch to pull the car. Now when I first conceived of this plan to drive cross-country, I didn't think it would entail a 16-foot Budget truck with car in tow. Originally we were going to send our mountains of boxes/few furniture items back using a Pod, and zip across the country in our compact four-door, with no more than clothes, a camping stove, a flat of Stagg chili from Costco, and a tent in the trunk. Nothing but Freebird (J), Sundown (me), and Tatonka (Lola -- of course her nickname would be "buffalo" from Dances With Wolves), with the open road ahead of us.
... But then I realized Pods are expensive ($2,000 not including fees), moving companies generally suck (as evidenced by my move to and from Boston a few years ago), and...well...taking pictures in front of Mount Rushmore near our 16-foot truck with attached car would just make the trip thatmuch more memorable. Gas should cost us about $800 total (our steed will be guzzling about 13 miles to the gallon), so our grand total in moving expenses will be about $2,400.
I suppose I should start packing up our casa but the closer our moving date is, the more I'd rather laze on the couch watching Mad Men. This doesn't bode well for the suddenly tight schedule we're on. Part of the problem is J (whose crack-the-whip nature when it comes to work can only be likened to Anthony Quinn as Zampano in Fellini's La Strada) can't currently help pack, and thus as soon as I begin packing I get distracted by some old book or photo album I forgot I had and before I know it three hours have gone by and I haven't filled a single box...though I'm wildly content I found my forgotten bottle of perfume or Afghan Hound notecards. (Confession: I'm a terrible procrastinator when moving is involved.)
J is waist-deep in finals week right now, which surprisingly doesn't bother me at all this semester. Maybe it's because a.) I'm used to it now, b.) we're leaving soon so I could care less what he does, or c.) he's already gotten 5 semesters of practice studying for these types of exams so this 6th semester is a total walk in the park.
Since he started law school I got used to hearing the "finals bell" knell in some far off place a few weeks before the end of each semester -- imagine a muffled foghorn in the distance, stirring me from my sleep -- and I knew that soon J would go into hiding with his books at the library or withdraw into himself here in the living room. This meant the only way I could get his attention to kill a spider, "talk about our hopes and dreams", or listen to my impression of the concierge downstairs was by instant messaging him in the same room since my repeated calls for him to look at me, listen to me, anything, fell on deaf ears. I learned that too much of these instant messages would mean he was headed out to the law library on campus, where smashed spiders and hysterical impersonations were of no concern. (Though I'd still finagle my way into his view by Skyping him. Repeatedly.)
But not this semester. This semester the library is a distant thought as J has barricaded himself in the kitchen and set up "office" at our tiny kitchen table, around a corner where I can't continually bother him in view. According to him I'm supposed to be packing, but I'd rather plan our trip online and figure out which national parks to camp at, which famous, giant balls of twine we should visit, how long we should spend at that infamous Corn Palace in South Dakota, and what time of day is best to photograph Devil's Tower (of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame). Packing can wait.
I've got a little less than three whole weeks, after all.