Saturday, January 29, 2011

Interstate 90

Here is the story of how I drove from Montana to Massachusetts:
It started on the morning of December 14, when the movers called to say they were coming the next day to load the van. I told them they were scheduled for Dec 17, and my cousins were coming on the evening of the 15th to help me pack and organize. They said they would do the organizing and paid for my cousins to stay in a hotel. I wondered if this meant the movers were very good, or that they were very bad…

Everything was packed on the 16th. On the 17th, we set off, and headed through Montana to South Dakota. My cousin and his wife drove my car, while I slept, recovered from packing up my Montana life, and shared the back seat with their son and my dog. It snowed every day during our drive across the country. Four days in a Jetta with 3 adults, a 4-year-old and a dog have given me a new appreciation for good stories and fast food.

We took a day off from eastward progress and drove around the Badlands. The owners of the B&B where we stayed said, “You can understand Mt. Rushmore from pictures. You have to see the Badlands…”
From the Badlands, we drove to Mason City, Iowa. We picked Mason City because it happened to be halfway to Michigan. We found out that it’s claims to fame include Meredith Willson, “Mason City native and internationally renowned composer” (The Music Man, for example) and “Prairie School architecture” (buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, for example).

My cousins stopped to spend the holidays with family in Michigan. I turned on the cruise control and drove 756 miles in one day, to spend the holidays with my sister in Saratoga Springs, New York. We went shopping, had our nails done, watched videos, and ate a gourmet Christmas dinner prepared by my brother-in-law. One of the girls in the nail salon asked, “Which of you is the professor?” We said, “Both of us!” My pictures get less complete at this point, because many of the photos above are from my cousin-in-law, Millie. But I can share a glimpse of the Victorian architecture, and document that dogs are allowed in nearly every shop in Saratoga Springs.

Back at the beginning of December, I learned that I wouldn’t have a place to live when I got to Massachusetts. Staying in a hotel would have been awkward because it wasn’t clear whether Harvard or I should foot the bill. In the end, I called a friend’s brother who lives in Melrose, a suburb of Boston. Staying with my friend’s brother was also a little awkward because (a) I’d never met him, and (b) his wife had left him about a year and a half ago, and he was working through an unexpected divorce and part-time single parenting. Screenwriters might take this situation and turn it into a romance ... or a drama … or a thriller (“he’s sharpening his knives…”). In fact, it turned out to be a comedy. He told his story, and I was inspired to reveal my most socially awkward and eccentric life experiences: trombone lessons, country-western square dancing, obsessive home renovation, some first-hand knowledge of LARP. We laughed and laughed. The kids cooked breakfast for me and loved my dog. I didn’t remember to take any pictures of Melrose, or of my temporarily adopted family, so here is the image that came up when I googled the address in December, and had to imagine what I might find.

Then the moving van arrived, and it was time to continue on. The movers turned out to be awful: Nearly every piece of wood furniture was scratched or broken. Some boxes were delivered to the wrong address, and others are missing. My parents came up for a few days to help sort through the delivery, and I have been spending more time unpacking boxes and filling out insurance claim forms than settling into an ordinary routine.

So the story of a new job and new life is still on hold, and I have only a few scattered photos of Boston and Harvard Forest.

Still, all in all, it was a pretty good trip. From Massachusetts…

No comments: