Critical Mass


We’re creeping closer to the cliff’s edge and the winds are picking up. That’s what it feels like, at least. I’m still excited, checking and rechecking preparations to ensure we’ll catch an updraft when we jump. Splattering into jelly is not the plan. I aim to fly!


Moving boxes have reached critical mass. Stacks and suitcases and instrument cases everywhere. As someone who is legendarily clumsy, my toes pretty much stay stubbed. But all the lifting and sweating of U-haul day will be worth it. We’ve cleaned out so much stuff. (Much of it traded in at 2nd & Charles for fat stacks of store credit!) At this point, it’s all last-minute dishes and laundry. That and deciding between the four books that I’ve set aside for the trip. Outfits are sorted – words that I’ll barely have time to read are another matter entirely. Even if I don’t have time to crack it, I always have a book on me. For a trip this immense, it’s like choosing a traveling companion. Time to gather my party and venture forth.


There is also the slight matter of not having a place to live. Our first attempt fell through and the housing market in the Northwest is notoriously tight. We do have another application pending – don’t want to jinx it with assumptions – on a house that would be lovely. As backups, I’m also in touch with a property management company with multiple homes available and an apartment complex that checks in weekly to make sure we’re still interested. So we’re not screwed just yet. I’m still breathing steadily; panic hasn’t set in. Neurotic overpreparation is my shield.It would make the trip 800% more relaxing if we had a set destination, though.


Work also has me a bit worried. I’ve agreed to stay on remotely for as long as they need me but, despite providing two months’ notice, they haven’t even started interviews for my replacement. My “How to J.” document is up to 53 pages. I’ve done all I can, right? Right? I’ll stay on as long as they want me to, but stepping back from daily production duties and relinquishing control has never been my strong suit. Plus, multiple people are on vacation during moving week, so I assume I’ll be remoting in from the side of the road at least a few times.


I’m not good at waiting. I’m not good at sitting in a packed-up house. Sitting still at all, really. This probably isn’t the best mood in which to blog. But the application is in the potential landlord’s hands, latest Terminus proposals are in the hands of my editor, and I’m just… here, like an eager racehorse bucking in the starting gate. Maybe I should just take a moment. The next few weeks are gonna be a whirlwind.


THURSDAY (which is tomorrow – holy shit)

Last day at the office. Last day seeing so many excellent friends and colleagues, some of which I’ve known for over a decade. Will I cry? I’ll probably cry.



U-haul day. Converting restlessness into physical output.We are mighty!



Mom and sister are taking the red-eye into D.C. Meeting them in the morning and doing a whirlwind tour of MD/NOVA. A visit to Dad’s grave, maybe pass by our childhood home, lunch with the relatives, and a visit to my Aunt. Then we leave Mom to continue her visit, and bring my sister back down to Richmond and put her to work.



Catch a nap on Saturday and leave in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Bobby in the U-haul with one dog, sister and I in the car with the others. Aiming for 12 hours of driving with a stop for the night in St. Louis. (We did look into avoiding Missouri altogether, what with the NAACP issuing a warning for minorities and women traveling through – what the hell, America? – but it would add too much time.) Roadside attractions: World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle (MO).



12 more hours – St. Louis to Denver. Perhaps even time to pull the acoustic guitar and violin out of the trunk for a sisterly duet. Rockin’ tour of Mid-Western rest stops! Roadside attractions: Buried Giant statue (MO), The Big Oak Tree (MO), Giant Concrete Teepee (KS), Giant Van Gogh Painting (KS).



Day off in Denver! Sister has to fly back to Los Angeles that evening, so we’re giving ourselves a nice bit of cushion. Seeing some of the city, visiting some friends, and tracking down some of this CBD-infused lotion that I’ve heard so much about. Gotta support the local economy. By slathering delicious pain relief all over my old and aching body. Roadside attractions: BED.



8 hours – Denver to Salt Lake City. Now that I’m rolling solo in the car, I’ll need to bust out the big staying-awake guns. There are 400+ songs on my road trip playlists, but I’m also sorely tempted to download the entirety of Rick & Morty to my devices and just listen to it on repeat. It soothes me. I also need to figure out podcasts. Roadside attractions: Vail Mountain (CO), Hanging Lake (CO), Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry (UT).



8 hours – SLC to Reno. Gotta have our SLC Punk moment out on the flats. Kind of nerding out on the flats, actually. Apparently walking on them is an experience. Also, going to pass through Elko, where I long ago played with the Nevada All-State Orchestra. Curious to see if it’s grown beyond the tiny town that I remember. Roadside attractions: The Tree of Utah (UT), Lover’s Lock Plaza (NV).



Happens to be my 35th birthday. Go, go, appropriately timed mid-life crisis! Also, arrival day. We’ll skirt into California and see some mountains before hitting our new home state. I also have a lunch date with my BFFFF. She and Bobby have some deal about In-N-Out Burger, but I think I’ll be too busy flailing around her in an excitable circle. Then up to Eugene, maybe a rendezvous with my favorite Canadian, and a birthday collapse in what is hopefully a house, but might end up being a hotel. Roadside attractions: Mt. Shasta (CA), Weed Historic Lumber Town (CA), In-N-Out Burger (OR).


So… yeah. Thinking through it all does help with the whirlwind feeling in my stomach. Even if the destination is unclear, I’m excited for the adventure. Bobby’s never been to most of these places. I’m getting some much-needed sister time (all we can stand!), and canine confusion is sure to provide endless entertainment. If anyone wants to wish us luck, I wouldn’t mind the good vibes. Like the man once said...