It’s a Saturday in December, and the snow is falling as I drive down I-95 in a U-Haul truck. The day grows colder, the roads slushier, and I’m in a 15-foot truck with my household belongings inside.
Seriously, folks. Where am I?
This is the question of my life right now, as it is for anyone’s life when they are in the process of moving to a new home. I’m currently living in the new place, while still clearing out the old place.
I have most of my clothes, but no hangers to put them on. And a homecooked meal? What’s that?
My dog is completely confused, as her routine has been completely upended. All she has are the constants of her owners, her kibble, her toys, and that goshdarn crate.
As any geek knows, the bear of moving comes from having to move your ever-increasing collection of, well, collections. More toys, more comic books, more movies and music. Even when I get rid of stuff or digitize media, inevitably this just means I can get more stuff!
But it’s OK. Eventually it all got packed or junked, and now it’s
all arranged like a Q*bert level in the new apartment.
The new place sits a mile from my job, so I brought most of the boxes with me day by day on my way to work. That left mostly furniture to be moved when my friends showed up to load the truck – a vehicle I have no experience driving, at all, but I will today.
So, of course the first snow of the Connecticut winter came on the scheduled day of the move. It wasn’t enough for me to pilot a 15-foot truck, and to plot a route that would allow the 11 feet of clearance necessary.
But hey, people do that every day. Gimme a challenge, why doncha? Here comes 3-6 inches of snow.
Even with power steering and brakes, I really have to muscle the truck. My arms are burning, and I have to remember not to grip the wheel too tightly. My quads hum every time I push the pedals to speed up or stop. And this is on top of all the lifting of furniture and boxes that day, plus weeks of moving boxes.
This isn’t as easy at 37.
But I take my time, take the right and middle lanes, and get there when I get there.
I have to fight nerves on two fronts: nerves from never driving a vehicle this large, and nerves from having to do so in snow. With the snow, I’m extra cautious about not overdoing the speed, and I’m concerned about how other drivers will behave around me.
Lucky for me, it’s Christmas season. I put on the all-Christmas-music radio stations, and I crooned my heart out to Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Nat “King” Cole, Brenda Lee, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the endless hordes of Christmas music.
When else do you regularly hear mature adult voices singing pop hits on the radio? Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy are both 38 damn years old. They are grown men. Do they sound like it? (Conversely, Adele is 29 and sings like she’s a bitter 48.)
The familiarity of the Christmas music, and the parental nature of the voices, help me focus and keep my nerves in check as I muscle this truck and stay on the defensive for jerks doing too much in the snow. I had to lay on the horn only once, when an SUV driver wanted to merge onto the highway by just sliding across lanes in one motion, nearly sliding into me.
“You can try if you want to,” I said over the roar of the truck, “but I’m gonna win! If I hit you, you may mess my day up, but I’ll mess your life up with this thing.”
I laughed to myself, because I sounded like my father, now three years gone. During my college years, when I would move twice a year, my dad would rent a giant SUV and we’d stuff it to the gills with my dorm room. He’d always joke about smaller cars losing to him because he’s “king of the road.”
Dad also had a habit of going all-in the first time he did something. He learned to drive in the Air Force, and when he got his civilian license he immediately went and bought a car. He’d never driven an actual car before, only military vehicles.
When I first got my drivers’ license, I rented a car and drove 200 miles to Philadelphia, with next to no experience driving on the highway. And now, here I was, driving a cargo truck for first time, across half of Connecticut in the snow.
And doing so while singing “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” one of Dad’s favorites.
Unpacking and settling into the new house is going swimmingly. After all that toil in the snow, I woke up to a New England Christmas card, living on the first floor of a farmhouse near the water.
Oh, and after shifting all my collections to the new location, I wound up adding to the toys already. I found a comic book-accurate Black Panther from the Marvel Legends series (with a spear and everything!), and a General Leia Organa figure from the Star Wars Black Series.
Leia is my favorite, after all. And when else do you see action figures of old women? It has wrinkles and all. Damn skippy, she was coming home with me.
Ah. This is home now!