My last nights in Colorado, then, were spent most appropriately, first with the Sweeneys, and then with Dave Cialone. Even with all the craziness of everything that happened during those last days, I remember thinking that Cathy did not have the benefit of the extra “goodbye” time that I did, and I do most appreciate that I got that time.
By the time Cathy left, an amazing amount had been accomplished, but there was still plenty more left to do. Comically, she felt awful about having to leave with so much left unfinished; she saw herself as saddling me with a huge burden. I didn’t see it that way, of course; she had a full task list of pretty important things herself, including the most impressive sounding task, Find Us A Front Door. (We had no plan for this, at all, when she left.) I made light of it and got her on her way, with her huge suitcase carrying her desktop computer and a few plant cuttings (in case I couldn’t manage to get the few critical house plants up there alive, after she’d arrived) in addition to the few belongings she’d have access to for the next few weeks. (And remember, she’s seven months pregnant at this point…)
The end of August, and September, is when the move really happened. Looking back on it, it’s a small miracle that it actually did happen, but somehow it did. And we’re talking everything here–concept evaluation, logistics, planning, packing, divesting, orchestrating, and interweaving.
As if we didn’t have things booked out well enough, my 20-year high school reunion came up this year. (Whoever decided that August in Houston was a bonny time for a social event, should be strung up.) We decided to make a trip of it, so that Cathy could see the place I grew up in, and I myself hadn’t been back in some 15 years.
Knowing that we were going to be moving at the end of the summer, we decided to get a “head-start” on things (boy, does that seem like a quaint notion now!), and that took the form of paring down our worldly belongings in various creative ways. The big stroke of genius there was Cathy’s use of the PaperBack Swap trading site. Basically, we culled out only the books that were one of a kind or that we couldn’t live without, and Cathy posted just about everything else on PBS. One by one, our books went out into the virtual ether, and we piled up credits to be redeemed once we made the move. Less weight, less bulk, less hassle! We had an initial garage sale, and tried to pack things up that we wouldn’t need to get to until after the move. It was a good lot of work that we managed to accomplish, and we certainly learned a great deal about the process of evaluating one’s own possessions. It’s one thing to pile all your books into boxes and toss them into a U-Haul, but it’s another thing entirely to consider the cost of moving them to Alaska. There is no such thing as the “we’ll just make one more trip with the truck to get the last of it”. We thought we were well ahead of the game, and maybe we were, for a ten-minute period or so…
Cathy’s brother Tom had accepted an opportunity to go teach English in Thailand (Phuket) for a while, and when he announced a send-off soiree (in the form of an old-fashioned minor league baseball game), we immediately put it on the schedule and drove out to see the Saint Paul Saints. A marvelous experience, replete with doting host, family and friends, and old-fashioned mini-donuts!
I have to admit that I had not expected that our relocation would be to Alaska (even after the honeymoon), nor so soon. I had figured that we would spend a year or two evaluating places and then pick one in the lower 48 as the best practical compromise. We had lots of criteria we were trying to work with, but one of the killers was getting away from the heat–we both just get absolutely wilty when the mercury nears 80, and by the time it hits 100, we’re lucky to even be conscious. (Yes, it can get “too cold” even for us, but you really have to work at it.) In doing our research, only a couple of places even came close to our goal; most of them were really little different than Lakewood–”average” summer temps in the 80s, with altogether too many days in the 90s, and even a few 100s to add insult to injury. In order to get substantially better than that, you had to get really high (Crested Butte, CO, at 8900′ elevation, was a possible)–or, you could go to Alaska, which from a numbers standpoint, was simply perfect–but again, through even March and April, I did not even count it as a possible.