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life in DC

October 7, 2010

There is an incredible mix of sensations that no other experience can replicate. Excitement, worry, “I really mean it, last trip to the bathroom!” episodes, fatigue, sadness, the smell of coffee and cardboard too early in the morning, squirrely animals and last-minute runs through echoing rooms.

Welcome to moving day.

After the long good-byes where you find yourself desperate to say so much, but find that you are incapable of saying anything at all; the whirlwind of scrubbing baseboards, pulling nails out of walls and constantly losing the strapping tape, I must admit that I was looking forward to the peaceful day-long trip from North Carolina to Washington, DC. It was just me and my mom, the dog and the cat, and a very good playlist.

Silly me. Maggie, our remarkably huge Maine Coon cat, dislikes the car, to put it mildly. On the trip from Texas to North Carolina, she yowled a noise unlike any I have ever heard before (think a drowning yodeler mourning his lost true love), all the way there. That is two days. Over one thousand miles. How did even an irrational mind like mine put “peaceful” into the description of this road trip?

Fifteen minutes down the road, our highly talented cat managed to not only unlock the door of her cat carrier, but take its door completely off its hinges: why I spent the remainder of the road trip holding down 17 pounds of squirming, long-haired allergen, trying to keep said 17 pounds of squirming, long-haired allergen from her desired destination: curled in a ball under the brake pedal.

Maybe this somewhat traumatic trip only intensified my usual problem with sleepwalking. My mom and I were camped out on a blow-up mattress in my empty, soon-to-be bedroom (the only one with blinds) with the animals when she caught me, in the middle of the night, heading for the door. According to her, I informed her she was not my mother, that my mother was trapped on the other side of a crack in space and time, wrapped in cobwebs, and disguised so that it would be difficult for me to find her. I, however, was rising to the challenge, and was off to rescue her. So kindly let go of me, woman who is definitely not my mother.

Fortunately, she is a light sleeper, and caught me and bedded me down before I could continue on my quest, and the rest of the night passed smoothly. As all our furniture caught up with us the next day, and my dad and brother somewhat later, things began to fall into place. We got to know a few of the house’s idiosyncracies: the fact that there is a two-foot hole in the basement, which let in a veritable army of cave crickets that live down there (I stopped counting at forty-seven), and that the smoke alarm sounds like something that should go off when nuclear war has been declared (it’s right outside of my bathroom, and my rather lengthy showers set it off with the surplus of steam I produce).

There are still boxes lurking in the corner of my bedroom, scissors have replaced strapping tape as the direly needed missing object, and the war over who controls the downstairs laundry room, us or the crickets, is still raging, but we seem to have settled pretty well here. My list of things to see every weekend is growing longer and more complicated, but I find living in a close suburb of DC isn’t quite what I expected. There are no subways rumbling under my feet, and it isn’t foggy and grey, like London, my only real experience of big-city living. I did have a slight mental breakdown when passing the original Iwo Jima memorial, and nearly started foaming at the mouth when a fifteen-minute drive took us to Mount Vernon, but all in all, I think I am handling the history, the newness and the bracingly cold weather fairly well.

Now if I could only get my hands on the scissors.


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