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Copyright 2009-2010 by
Mary Brotherton
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Inside my Brain

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Thursday, January 02, 2003

Breathing in and breathing out
If I had to do it all over again, would I make a move during a major holiday season? The practical side of me wants to yell about the frustrations and consternations of dealing with traffic, holiday lines when all I need is a simple loaf of bread, the interruptions from packing to be with beloved family members, and probably a dozen other rather insignificant issues. The other side of me needs to tell you that this has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life! But then, since I met Curtis, nothing in my life has been the same. The day we met, the way we met, the words we spoke to each other - not normal! And when we touched for the very first time, when we shook hands as we introduced ourselves, I truly believe that if it had been dark, sparks would have been visible, because the electricity between us was tangible. Our "chemistry" mixed so well that we became as one at that moment. We were each so steeped in our own past that we did not realize it at that moment, but there was no separating us. Two years later, we decided to start a life together, and from the moment we decided, to the day we "set up housekeeping", a full ten days elapsed. We had to move quickly because he was starting a new job. We had been living in separate states, and we each moved our own stuff to a new home that we would share. That adventure only pales when compared to the one we are living now.

Nothing in our life together has occurred in what many would consider a normal fashion. It's just not going to happen for us like it does for other people, and we don't mind at all. We visited his father for Thanksgiving and did not leave until we had signed a lease on a house we'd like to rent, even though most real estate agents told us that "nobody is renting houses these days". We found one that suits us perfectly for now. When Curtis was laid off from his job in Atlanta, we knew that this was the perfect time, a sign that now is the time to start our own business. He has a great idea, and now has to implement it. I had planned to work until the middle of December, but my boss told me that she had a replacement eager and ready to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I was free to house-shop as long as needed. Doing my left-brained best to be organized and methodical, I failed miserably, and as we were packing the moving truck, I was still packing boxes - well not actually boxes. We'd run out of those the day before. I refused to hunt or beg for another box during the holiday season, so we bought some plasctic totes that we can use again. Then I started cramming things into trashcans, laundry baskets, and eventually garbage bags. It was frustration in a physical manifestation, but the odd shapes and sizes worked to our benefit, and we were able to utilize the small nooks and crannies in a way that would have made my nightmares proud.

By 6 PM on a Friday night, we were finally completed with the packing, and then we had to have our apartment inspected before we could leave. We were all exhausted, and Curtis thought he was catching a cold. It was raining. The friends who were supposed to help us drive the cars down looked bedragled. The woman had been sneezing all afternoon, and had not been much help with loading the truck. She confessed that she did not want to drive in the rain at night, and I now understand why. We decided to spend the night with our friends and leave the following morning. That decision was a blessing in disguise.

Our friends are delightful, active middle aged people. We started our convoy after we determined the driving order. Curtis would drive the moving truck and tow one Supra. Tom was to follow him in my Camry, and his wife would take the position between her husband and me. I had the other Supra and wanted to be last so that I could keep an eye on everything and everyone. I was the only person without a cellphone, but we exchanged numbers, and with me in the rear, I could just follow the crowd if the leader decided to exit. The first few hours went along smoothly, but about fifteen minutes before Curtis wanted to stop for lunch and to refuel the vehicles, Tom decided to charge ahead of him. Curtis said that he could not locate Tom's cell number, but he flashed his lights at him, and tried his best to indicate that he needed to exit. The women followed the possessions and the man with the money for lunch. Tom's wife called and told him to stop where he was and wait for her. After that, the 8 hour drive from Atlanta to our destination in Florida became ever more filled with frustrations for me.

After refueling people and the moving truck, Curtis resumed the drive, expecting Tom, his wife, and me to follow quickly behind. Not so! They argued about Tom's speeding ahead, then they were slow to merge into the traffic, and I was caught behind. I pushed them ahead, but they simply drove slowly. I suppose Tom was eating his Happy Meal and was too busy playing with the toy to drive. Seriously the man ordered a Happy Meal so he could see what toy was inside. Finally, in frustration, I passed them, and did my best for half an hour to catch up to Curtis. I had to slow down, then speed up constantly, so that they could also catch up. You can imagine my complete horror when after driving behind him for little more than an hour, both Tom and his wife passed me, then pulled off at the next exit! I followed them, wondering why Curtis continued without us. They had not thought to call him to tell him her little Chevrolet Geo needed gas. Curtis had all the money for this trip, and here I was with three cars needing fuel (I thought it best to fuel all at the same time). Curtis was in a dead cell zone and did not answer the phone. She said she could not continue without gas, and started to fuel her car. When I asked if she could pay for her own gas, she told me that she expected us to pay for it since they were doing us the favor - well, yes, that was the agreement, but Curtis had the money! I dug out a long forgotten credit card and prayed that it would work. The moving miracle of the day was that it did indeed work.

We discussed the change in the convoy since we'd been unable to reach Curtis. I knew better than to expect him to sit on the emergency lane waiting for us. That was not going to be an option. We agreed that I would lead the convoy this time, since I was the only one who knew our final destination. Once everyone's tank was full and the bladders were empty, we resumed the drive, but for some unknown reason, Tom decided he wanted the lead position, and his wife wanted to follow along leisurely behind. Since we still had about 5 hours to travel (in my dreams!) I let them have their way. The problem was that Tom thought he was Mario Andretti and his wife thought she was Grandma out for a slow Sunday Drive. I was stuck in the middle trying desperatly to see where he was weaving in the traffic, and to keep her in my rear view mirror. Curtis called about 2 hours after leaving us in his Ryder dust, and arranged for us to meet him at the next rest area. Oddly, though it seemed that everyone had a different bladder tolerance, and yet they both kept drinking and drinking. By the time we reached the next rest area, we'd had to stop at the prior two exits (once for him and once for her), and Curtis had gone on without us, yet again. Once more, he was out of cell range at that point. I tried not to get upset, but I was not happy with Mario and his Grandmother. Frustration was becomming fury when we reached one point and they were both behind me, and neither could keep up with me in traffic, and I was slowing down from 55 miles per hour!

Darkness encroached on our journey, and they were growing hungry at the last refueling. Our location placed us barely 3 hours away from our destination at this point, by normal standards. Our dinner could have been postponed until we reached Curtis' dad's, but they insisted that they could not wait a moment longer. The reason? There was a Denny's across from our last refuel site, and they both loved Denny's - especially if I was paying. I prayed my credit card would support one more stop. It barely did. We ate a leisurely dinner, and Tom decided that since we were so close to the end of the trip, it might be wise to let me lead. I was honored in a sarcastic sense, that he felt this way. He suggested that his wife should be in the middle, and he would try to push her to stay with the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, no amount of pushing helped keep her in line. She simply dawdled as she drove. I don't know if she was giving herself a manicure while she steered, or if she was daydreaming, but it was growing more and more difficult to keep her with the small caravan. It got worse, when Tom would speed past me. It's a wonder that I did not lose my sanity when we were 3 miles from our exit - an exit they neither would recognize. Tom flew past me (he later said, in an attempt to get me to speed up past the legal limit of 70). As the exit drew ever nearer (do you know how fast three miles can zip by at 70 mph?) SHE flew past me in her little Geo! I was furious to say the least. This woman who had been a faint memory of a shadow in my rear view mirror for most of the trip, suddenly could drive 80+ miles per hour? The car I was driving is no slouch, so I just nailed the accelerator and passed her. As I did, I turned on my hazard lights to try to indicate that we were at the exit, which in fact we were. I passed her less than 100 yards before our turn off. She later told me that her bladder had reached maximum capacity and she was hoping to get me to exit. If she'd not been drinking gallons of water during the trip, this could have been avoided. Curtis' father lives only about 10 minutes from that exit, so all ended well. I barely managed to keep my sanity, but all three cars arrived safely.

Curtis called Tom when he arrived at his father's - a full two hours before we did! Curtis was driving a moving truck and towing a car, we were all in sedans and sports cars. A typical 8 hour trip took him 9 hours, and took me and the Andretti's more than 11. I enjoyed my beer that night!

We spent that first night in Florida relaxing at "the folks" house and the next morning, Tom and Grandma Andretti drove our car to our new home before they departed to visit their Florida relatives. Since then, we have been unpacking and re-arranging furniture, cleaning and organizing,and trying to adjust to life at a new pace. I breathe in and I breathe out some days, and other days I find something exciting to do. There are beaches waiting for me to explore, parks that need my feet on their grass, people to meet and at some point, employment.