The second thing I thought was "how do I get to the bathroom?" Because before me lay a maze of packing boxes strewn across our master bedroom floor, as there were in every room. Packed full of clothes, stuff, books, more stuff, and other stuff. Packed the day before by our movers. It had been amazing to watch them do their thing - so efficient, so detailed. Our lives for the past decade and beyond, now encased in semi-marked cardboard boxes wherever we looked.
Yesterday had been boxing today. Today was packing day. It would also be our last official day in our home of ten years. We woke up in one home and would lay down our heads that same night in another.
They show up at 8am as promised A big moving truck backs into our driveway. All morning and afternoon long, boxes make their way out. Our life on the move! Furniture too - a new living room sofa, a kitchen hutch, beds. It was like a big game of Tetris, watching them try to fit everything in just right spot to maximize space.
The first half of the day goes fast. They are really moving on the packing, and I make the mistake of letting myself think that they will finish long before they told us and we could leave mid-afternoon. But as the truck gets more full and space more precious, the process slows down. Tetris is a science, and science takes time. This is what the guy told us would happen. I should've listened.
4pm now. Still packing. I'm getting restless now. So we back our cars onto the front lawn and begin loading them up too. Just a few little things we told the movers not to bother with, since we had two cars. Those "few little things" quickly turn into "a whole lotta things" as we discover item after item we'd long forgotten behind doors, in crawl spaces, in closets we hadn't checked in years. Cram it all in the car. A new game of Tetris, and I am not a professional.
After 5pm. The sun is setting. The truck finally pulls out and tells us they'll see us in Charlotte first thing in the morning. I look at our cars and see that we have literally filled up every available space, every nook and cranny, save a little room for the pets and ourselves.
We linger for awhile. We share stories of the home we're about to leave. We cry a little. And then we get in our cars and begin the two-hour trip to Charlotte, our new home.
We are quite the sight making our way down I-77, I'm sure. I'm driving the Prius. In my car: Connor in the passenger seat, with the fish tank on the floor between his legs. In the back: two of our four dogs, Lady and Bandit. And lots of stuff. Lorie is driving the minivan. In her car: Hunter, holding the cat crate with Sydney inside. In the back: the other two dogs, Rocky and Sunny. And lots of stuff.
We caravan down the interstate. Connor and I talk about what we are sad leaving behind and what we're excited about in this "new adventure," as my wife and I had taken to billing it. We make the trip without either car having to make a pit stop, which I consider to be a miracle.
Just over two hours in, and I see this:
We continue on. Our house is on the south side of Charlotte, which is the opposite of where we're coming into town. We've got another half hour to go. Except now, instead of looking at billboards and the occasional interstate exit, we're looking at buildings and businesses and intersections and streets and homes and the new church I'm set to pastor. Sights that I know will now be the things we'll see every day.
The dogs, by the way, have traveled well. Very well. I'm surprised because the ones we have are the outside dogs whose only experience in the car have been mostly quick trips to the vet. Now they're stuck in a Prius, surrounded by stuff, for over two hours. I'm pretty sure they've slept the entire way.
Well, up until this point. We're in the city now, so there's a lot of turning, a lot of stopping and going. I hear them moving about behind me, and I can tell they're getting restless. They're ready to land somewhere. So are we.
We wiggle our way through town - Independence, Wendover, Providence. That last street takes what seems like forever, one of the main "spokes" coming out of Uptown into South Charlotte. Providence just goes and goes and goes. Which, if you think about it theologically, makes sense.
We get to the intersection with Rea Rd. Very close now. I turn right onto Rea and my GPS tells me I'm less than a mile from our new home. And that's when I smell the smell of a dog who's been in the car for far too long and couldn't hold it in any longer, even though we were almost there, I mean seriously, practically right there.....
Another turn and there is our driveway. We pull up to our new home. I phone in a dinner order to Brooklyn Pizza, which I had previously scouted out, because important matters such as first dinners in a new town and all things pizza should never be left up to chance. We unload our suitcases, our sleeping bags, our air mattresses, our pets. I clean the dog poop out of the back of my car. We eat pizza and figure out our sleeping arrangements for the night in a new house with no furniture yet. We all wind up crashing on our master bedroom floor; a mass slumber party for four humans, four dogs, one cat and a fish.
And the last thing I remember as my eyes close and my body succumbs to pure exhaustion is what a long day it had been, and what a long day tomorrow would be, and how grateful I am to share these long days and all days with the other nine living creatures in that room with me.
It really is true, you know; that Providence just goes and goes...