Last week, I moved Sue back to Charleston. We packed all week, & then Thursday night, Jen & Tom came over to load up the cars. Despite our fear that it wouldn’t all fit into J&T’s Explorer & Sue’s Jeep, we did it… it fit with room to spare, & we all went to bed congratulating ourselves on being right on schedule. Jen, Sue & I planned to leave Friday morning & have her moved in by nightfall.
6:45am: Friday morning, Jennifer & Tom were awakened by the sound of someone ripping the shingles off their roof & the sunroom off their house. Remember the Tree Attack of 2010? Yeah, the builders finally showed up. Only a few minutes later, the crew leader bangs on the door & informs them that they have a massive termite infestation, & that the wooden weatherboard siding needs to be replaced on the side & front of their house. Yay.
11:00am: Here’s the scene: we’re sitting in Jennifer & Tom’s living room. Two vehicles containing all of Sue’s worldly possessions are parked in the driveway. There are men stomping around outside all the windows, ripping into the house, hammering, pulling & seemingly jackhammering their way through the termite damage. The walls are vibrating, & for fun, you can watch the hanging pictures jump with each hammer blow. Maggie’s watching “Curious George” with the volume blaring. Sadie’s yowling, annoyed with the ruckus. Jennifer’s crying & wondering aloud if her zoloft is still working. Tom’s staring into space calculating how they’re going to pay for this latest development. Sue & I are trying to think of a tactful way to say “Sorry your house is being ripped apart. So when are we leaving for Charleston?”
2:30pm: Sue & I finally got on the road (without Jennifer, obviously — she needed to supervise the house-ripping). But whatever, we’re good. That is, until we hit rush hour traffic through Columbia & I’m in the far left lane & suddenly J&T’s Explorer just cuts off. Stops working, dies, kaput at 70-something miles per hour. I managed to change lanes & pull onto the shoulder of the interstate without dying. It was the alternator. I knew this because of our family’s extensive crappy-car history… I also know what it feels like when a transmission drops out, a tire blows, the power steering craps out, & the brakes fail. Because our family’s cars SUCK ASS.
“So i’m stranded in j&t’s explorer on i-26. I think it’s the alternator. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” –text to Bobby, 4:11pm
4:15pm: Sue & I sit on the side of I-26 & feel sorry for ourselves for a few minutes. & then we call Jen & Tom, a tow truck, & the Columbia airport for directions. We rented an Equinox from the airport & headed back to the stranded Explorer — me driving the Equinox, Sue driving the Jeep. By this time, rush hour traffic was completely stopped. Sue & I got separated & lost. I ended up crying in downtown Columbia, she ended up crying on a frontage road. We both finally made it back to the Explorer with soggy, tear-stained faces.
5:15pm: And then it started raining. Like the kind of rain that soaks you to the bone within minutes of stepping out in it. At this point, everything’s starting to seem a little ridiculous. I mean, really?!? So in the pouring, monsoon-like rain, we transfered all of Sue’s belongings from the broken Explorer to the rented Equinox. The shoulder of the interstate where we were parked was so muddy that the muck actually sucked Sue’s flip-flops off.
“Moving Sue update: On I-26 in the rain waiting for a tow truck. Welcome to life in our family.” –facebook status update via text, 6:20pm
6:30pm: The tow truck came. The Explorer got towed away. And so we headed, once again, toward Charleston. Except the rain didn’t stop. It kept raining & raining, & traffic never exceeded 40 mph. It was like driving in a car wash. We stopped for bathroom & coffee, & they had to mop the floor after us to prevent the dry customers from slipping & falling. I smelled like a wet animal.
“I’m so wet i just had to peel the toilet seat cover off my butt.” –text to Bobby, 7:48pm
9:00pm: Following Sue, I watch as her Jeep hydroplanes into one of the scary concrete barriers lining the interstates. The Jeep bounces off the barrier & into the other lane, sending a wave of water up onto my windshield & completely obliterating all visibility. I hit the brakes because although I can’t see her, I know she’s still ahead of me. The Jeep is built like a freakin’ tank & rights itself. Disaster averted. We drive on.
9:42pm: We finally arrived at Sue’s apartment — what is usually a four-hour trip had taken us SEVEN hours. Sue & I examined the missing chunk in the side of Jeep, compliments of the concrete barrier. We hauled all her crap up the stairs to her second-floor apartment. It was then that we discovered that we didn’t have toilet paper or a shower curtain. So we wiped our butts with coffee filters, & showered while huddling against the wall.
12:00am: Clean(er), we headed to Walmart & collected necessary things (food) & not-so-necessary things (a chocolate-colored shag area rug). It was only when we got to the register that I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. Yes, that’s right. I did not have my flipping wallet. So I started word-vomiting on the poor 3rd shift Walmart lady, asking her if she could just key my debit card number in, & of course she said no. But she must have seen the wild look in my eyes, because she offered to stash our stuff behind her register until we came back with money. Back to the car we go, where I discover my wallet lying in the floor. Cue angels singing. I raced back into the store, & semi-hysterically told the 3rd shift Walmart lady that she was the highlight of my day. She gave me a high-five (really, she did) & sent me on my way.
1:20am: We’re headed back to the apt with our Walmart goodies, we’re giddy because something went right, & we discover that we’re hungry. Sue directed me toward a 24-hr McDonald’s. As we drove down the street, all the electricity went out — streetlamps, traffic lights, everything. And the McDonald’s that never closes? Yep, it was closed. We forlornly drove on until we found a Taco Bell that had power…. Taco Bell had never tasted so good.
2:05am: Back at the apt, we started unpacking, making the bed, hanging Sue’s clothes.
4:30am: Gave up & went to bed. But not before taking pictures. I’m just so happy & relieved to have her semi-settled in a semi-permanent place. “Semi” works for now.