"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Saturday, November 29, 2003
relocation is hell
today we paid our new landlord all monies owed, got the keys, and started moving in to our new home. since the house is only about 5 miles from our current apartment, we can move a little at a time over the next couple of weeks, using the pickup. trust me, i don't own anything too big for the pickup.
this beats the last time we moved, a year and a half ago.
it went something like this:
i was sharing a house with drew and a couple and the couple's teenage daughter. when we all moved into the house, which sat at the edge of a dead end, the couple signing the lease neglected to mention me to the landlord. i was, in effect, an illegal tenant. when i mentioned my discomfort about this to the couple, they informed me they would remedy the situation and inform the landlord. and that was that.
angel was finally ready to move from virginia to new york. all of her kids had made living arrangements in virginia, and she and i were finally going to be together after a long-distance relationship that had gone on for four years. we planned to stay at the shared house until we found an apartment that would allow a dog and a cat. we kenneled the dog with angel's aunt and uncle in virginia; the cat would come with us to new york.
we packed all of angel's belongings into a good-size ryder truck and hooked up a trailer with the pickup on it. max the cat is a little large - we had to assemble the cat carrier around him. we stuck him between us in the cab and drove north.
straight up route 13 to the jersey turnpike, making great time for a truck pulling another truck. around 10 pm we passed the usual exit for long island, which was verboten to us because of the commercial nature of our vehicle. and about 50 feet after that we blew a tire on the trailer. for the unfamiliar, the jersey turnpike around the newark airport is about eight lanes of highly accelerated metal. a good place to bury a body; a lousy place to blow a tire.
i dialed the trailer company for their roadside assistance, and learned that the roadside assistance was not available on the jersey turnpike, because the jersey turnpike was contracted to another company. i had to have the vehicle at least 100 yards off the turnpike. so, with blown tire, we limped to the next exit. jersey city. not a particular happy town. not an easy place to get to either: the road to jersey city involved a large bridge, a lot of traffic, a construction site, a very poorly timed view of the statue of liberty, and finally a turn onto a road running behind several warehouses that in the dim light seemed to read "u-need-a murder site" and "drug-deals 'r' us".
the clock struck midnight. the cat complained. angel looked a bit ill at ease. she was a long way from virginia. heck, she was at least four hours from people who said "y'all." no, we were in the land of people who say "youse".
i pulled over to the curb and cut the engine. a line of cars followed me and pulled over to the curb in suit. the problem with tailgating is that you, as the tailgater, have no clue as to where the road is; you only know where the tailgatee is. i was now sitting in a wounded boar of a truck in jersey city at midnight with a frightened southern belle, an irate overweight cat, and three of the dumbest drivers in new jersey.
i rolled down my window and waved the cars around me.
car number 3 got the picture and pulled past us.
car number 2 got the picture and pulled past us.
car number 1, from a full stop two feet behind us, drove straight into us.
if you've been in a car accident, you know that sickening unmistakeable sound of metal hitting metal. that, accompanied by the jolt of a 2500-pound dodge neon smacking into about 12,000 pounds of truck and trailer, really put the icing on the evening.
i opened my door, climbed down. i walked to the point of impact. there was the dodge, an eye poked out, a large gash across the brow, and very drunk and petrified teenage driver at the wheel. the driver's passenger was already out of the car, repeating a mantra of "omygodmygodomygodomygod". the trailer has misplaced a taillight. my pickup, high up on the trailer, was unscathed.
driver and passenger seemed unhurt, suffering only from the shock of realizing they'd done something really really stupid. unfortunately, i was not feeling my usual merciful self. 'are you ok?' i asked the passenger. she nodded. 'are you ok?' i asked the driver. a slow, slow nod. 'good,' i said, 'then leave. this never happened. leave.' and i walked back to the cab.
they backed up, then drove past us.
i drove to the next sign of civilization, a gas station about a mile up the street. i phoned the truck company, and in a mere two hours they sent a service truck to fix the flat on the trailer. at four am, 16 hours after leaving, we pulled up in front of the shared house. i was so tired by then that i overshot my only chance of being able to turn either truck or trailer around out of the dead end. angel and i grabbed a few hours sleep, and then unpacked the truck into the basement of the house, assisted by the couple's daughter, a rather strong young lady. with said young lady's assistance, i managed to manually rotate the trailer to face out of the cul-de-sac. a 15 point turn and i had the truck facing the correct direction also. then i dropped them off at the rental agency, went back to the house, and collapsed for the night.
the next day was a beautiful summer saturday. about midafternoon, the landlady arrived to ruin it. she announced that there were apparently 'many more people' living in the house than she had been made aware of. apparently my presence had never been brought to her attention, even though the couple argued that they had told the landlady's husband that i was there. the moving truck showing up at four in the morning had not helped matters.
no problem, we told her, we were just leaving anyway.
within 12 hours, we had contacted a realtor (which we had planned to do anyway) and found an apartment willing to take us, the cat, and the dog.
it was a block away from the house.
if we had only been too tired or lazy to unpack, we could have saved ourselves a lot of grief. as it was, about 20 trips with the pickup truck moved all of our stuff back out of the basement and into our new apartment.
which, a year a half later, we are leaving behind, and beginning another chapter in our saga.