Editor’s note: This, the second installment in Elaine Horn’s series of columns on her quest to fulfill her longtime dream of settling in Cambria, appears only on the web. The first column, “A dream realized?” was published March 20 Cambrian, and the third, “That ’70s moment,” was published April 3.
The Week From Hell has arrived. There’s nothing quite like starting out a Monday morning knowing that your life and identity as you know it is about to implode. I am focused and armed with a fierce determination of will. I am also an emotional wreck.
Pack. Cry. Repeat. The doorbell rings, the movers arrive and the crew leader, Rodney, looks uncannily like Bubba in “Forrest Gump.” They’re nice, professional, strong and compassionate. By the time we arrive at the storage unit, I’m crying uncontrollably and Rodney’s encouraging me to “shore up” with some sage wisdom from his mother, which I won’t remember seconds later. From start to finish, it’s a 16-hour day.
I’m supposed to leave for Atlanta as soon as I get confirmation from the car transport folks that they’ll pick up my car the next day. In the meantime, I’m throwing clothes, pet supplies, you name it, in large boxes to ship to Cambria. I finally get the call from car transport mid-afternoon saying they won’t be picking up the car until FRIDAY. Tears and hysteria are vastly underrated. I lose it on the phone, and they promise they’ll pick up the car on Thursday. It’s too late in the day to start off. The delay is a Godsend.
Early rise, light breakfast and a last bittersweet look around. With the dogs and cat safely loaded, I embark on the 530-plus mile trek to Atlanta. In the early ’80s, I drove fast — very fast. I could make it to Atlanta in 8.5 hours. Today, it takes me over 10 hours. Whether it is wisdom or inertia, most of us do slow down with age. The highlight of the trip is the Giant Peach, most recently made famous for its mention in season one of Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards.” If you’ve never experienced the Peachoid water tower, check it out: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130319/PC16/130319226
We’re camped out at a Holiday Inn Express. My stress level is off the charts, I can’t eat and even I think I’m too thin. I make my way to Delta cargo to drop off the giant size kennel for my Great Dane, Ula (“ooh-la”, Celtic for “sea jewel.” Her name is a long story.) The cargo people are great, and they agree to let me store the crate until our flight the following day. Still, I notice a glint in the cargo manager’s eye. Larry asks me if the giant crate is tall enough for my dog. This issue will haunt me in the wee small hours of the morning when I wake up at 2 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep.
It’s show time. First, I have to find a cab willing to transport Ula and me to Delta cargo. The hotel shuttle won’t if she’s not crated. My anxiety rises because the cab is 20 minutes late. We finally arrive at Delta cargo and my worst fears are realized. They reject the crate, deeming it not tall enough. Larry says he’ll make it work and goes off to try to find crate “extenders.” Thirty minutes later, we’re still at square one, and I’m starting to panic because I’ve left Chessie, the mini-Aussie, and Sydney, my cat, back in the hotel room and we have to catch the same flight as Ula. Larry comes out with a giant custom wood crate left over by a past customer that he says I can use. As it turns out, this crate is too big for the aircraft. Larry eyes my tremulous lips and Ula’s soulful gaze and says he’ll get his manager to approve Ula for travel. I’m ecstatic. Back at the hotel, I load up Chessie and Sydney in another cab, and we’re off to the airport. I’ve sprung for a first-class ticket to San Francisco, which, surprisingly, cost only nominally more than economy and checked bags are free. By the time I step on the aircraft, the enormity of what I’m doing hits me and I break down, again. Sheesh! And I’m still 2,300-plus miles from Cambria.
My Mary Tyler Moore moment.