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Preparation and Departure   —   Personal

In the beginning there were boxes, an endless sea of cardboard and tape and bubble wrap. There was the list, The Master List, which cataloged all of our belongings divided into the boxes and grouped together like the misfits of a fallen city. After I was officially through with work, after the wedding that immediately followed my last day of work, after a few really incredible hangovers, Adam left for Portland to secure an apartment and I began the immensely intense job of packing. I suppose I wasn't prepared for the density of the task. I imagined everything that we owned sectioned and grouped into categories and neatly stacked into boxes and piles. I wasn't too far off from that idea but I wasn't exactly accurate in my perceptions either. It began well enough. I spent the four days that Adam was in Portland at home in my pajamas packing from about 11:AM until about 2:AM. Always in the background was a movie playing. I think I must have went through half of our movie collection in those four days (and we have quite a collection) as I'm one for listening to movies while I'm otherwise occupied. Four straight days of this and I had accomplished packing about 40 boxes. Turns out that was the halfway mark but it also turned out that they were the easiest items to pack. It took another week and a half to finish packing, with countless trips to Office Depot and Staples to retrieve more tape, bubble wrap, and boxes. The money we spent on packing materials should only be mentioned in the form of a scary story told round a campfire. Packing was finally completed about an hour before the movers actually arrived on May Th. To pass the weight of our belongings, both physically and mentally, off to the movers was practically a religious experience. In recent memory I hadn't felt such a refreshing sense of accomplishment, finality, and freedom as I did in those hours that the movers were there hauling away every material item we possess. Of course now, day six of possibly nineteen, my bed seems like a fond and almost forgotten memory, one of which I mourn every night.

The cats did not do well upon discovering the immense emptiness of their sanctuary. They had loved the packed boxes, every night there were new piles to climb to the top of, newly exposed spaces of the wall to smell and freshly emptied corners to meow in. Every night for weeks I fell asleep to the sound of two cats going ape shit in a wonderland of cardboard mountains. When the movers came we locked the cats in a closet with their food and litter. When the movers left and we let the cats out the Feline Freakout Week began. Tsunami crawled through the apartment so low to the ground that he practically slithered. He yowled as though someone had a hook in his belly and was slowly disemboweling him. Within minutes his little brain came up with the brilliant idea that there may be sanctuary outside. He managed to wedge himself between an open window's glass pane and screen, marking himself with a long streak of soot on the white side of his face in what was to be an ironically accurate depiction of his terror that lasted for days. After we counteracted his escape attempt by closing all the windows he mysteriously retreated to the top of the refrigerator, which incidentally hadn't been cleaned in the five years we'd lived there, so his new spot only added to his filthy appearance, and he didn't come down for the rest of the day. Commodore on the other hand stepped out of the closet, took one look around, and went right back into the closet and started panting. The two of them pretty much stayed on high alert for the next 24 hours.

May 31st. Moving day. Adam and I went out the night before with two of our closest friends as a final farewell. What started out as a last-minute get together for a drink or two lasted for five cosmopolitans, one beer, and a turkey burger with fries. May 31st was off to a rocky start with a massive hangover and very little sleep. In fact, I'm pretty sure that when I woke up, I was still drunk. The morning consisted of some last minute errands, packing our travel suitcase whose contents were surprisingly thrown all about the otherwise empty apartment, and tidying up our soon to be abandoned place which had served as a comfortable and well suited home to us for the past five years. A friend of ours had offered us a ride to the airport, which was an unbelievable help, so close to 4:PM on May 31st we gathered our suitcases and prepared the cats for their long journey West. We had obtained from the vet an herbal remedy for stress, which we'd hoped would help the cats to remain calm for the flight. We administered the first dose to Tsunami and I should have known by the rank smell of the liquid goo that it wasn't going to end well. Tsunami reacted violently to the "harmless herbal calming fluid" called "Easy Does It". He began by foaming at the mouth, followed with some strange sounds of gurgling and gagging, and ended the ordeal with vomiting about four times in the most violent and heart wrenching way I've ever seen a cat do. His vomiting was accompanied by yowling screeches and afterward he coward into a ball, his eyes wide, his face covered in soot, his white paws stained a soft black from the grime on top of the fridge, and his cheeks and chest now slicked with puke. My heart ached to see this fragile creature in such distress but I had to plow ahead and do what had to be done. Wisely deciding not to administer the herbal death liquid to Commodore I threw it into the trash and then ushered both of the cats into their separate travel carriers and off we went, down to the car and on to the airport to start the second part of our moving process.

Traffic was heavy. What we anticipated to be a 30 minute car ride turned into a 90 minute one. By the time we finally arrived to the check-in counter at Delta we had an hour before our flight, and about 40 minutes until we were to board. It seems like enough time in retrospect but with possible unexpected delays ahead of us we hadn't wanted to cut it so close. Check-in was unbelievably long, confusing, and infuriating. The woman checking us in was in training and the woman training her could have done for some training in manners and expedience. They were both rude, slow, and unsympathetic to our desire for efficiency. After explaining to them numerous times how many pieces of luggage we were checking and how many we were carrying aboard, after getting attitude from them about the fact that we were traveling with animals, after explaining to them numerous times that we were not checking the cats as cargo, we finally received our boarding passes and continued on to security. Standing in a very long line for security we soon learn that we have to remove the cats from their carriers and walk them through the check point. Now, I had asked Delta on more than one occasion regarding this very issue, and on all occasions they assured me that the cats would remain in their carriers during the security check. This was not so. Adam started throwing around the "Fuck" word and instead of his usual zen like acceptance he became surprisingly aggressive toward the situation and stalked off demanding to speak with a Delta representative. I was quietly crying from the stress of it all and began to imagine our cats breaking out of our grips and losing them in the airport, missing our flight, having to stay in a hotel until we could catch another one, money wasted, absolute chaos. Adam discovers that in order to take an issue up with Delta we'd have to go into a private room and wait for a rep to arrive, meanwhile we have less than 30 minutes until we board, so we just submitted to the situation and continued through security removing the laptop from its case, removing our shoes, emptying our pockets, and finally managing to wrestle two terrified cats from their caves, and holding onto them for dear life while they squirmed we quickly walked through the metal detectors and managed to get the cats back into their cases without incident. We make it to our gate and only wait for about 15 minutes until they allow us to board with first class. After boarding we discover that we have the middle seat and an isle seat. The cats are to go under the seat in front of us and for some reason the isle seat's underseat storage was half the size of what it should have been. So without consulting anyone we take the window seat and middle seat so we can fit the carriers in front of us. After the man whose seat we stole arrived we found him to be none too pleased about the new arrangement but eventually agreeing to it nonetheless. Frankly he didn't have a choice as I was close to violence if any other mother fucker opposed us. Luckily, he did not. We settle in and just as we think we're in the clear the real frustration begins. Due to "heavy air traffic" we sit on the tarmac for roughly 90 minutes. We finally take off only to circle Long Island for another 30 minutes again due to "heavy air traffic". Two hours after boarding the plane we finally set off on our five hour flight. It's not until we're in the air for an hour do we finally get a stewardess to offer us beverage. No meals were served, only some cheese and crackers. They did however play three movies and frankly it was the only way I survived being on an airplane for seven hours with no food, no sleep, two cats, four babies, and a cranky and sleeping isle passenger blocking my way to the bathroom. Allow me this opportunity to say, Fuck You Delta. The cats however were almost completely silent for the entire trip, for what little time Commodore meowed on our descent it couldn't be heard over the screaming babies and roar of the engine. And finally, at 11:10PM PST, we landed in Portland, Oregon. Greeted by a full moon, clear skies, and the smell of fresh air. At last.

Stayed tuned for an up to date account on our first week in Portland.

Posted 6.6.2007 6:43:01 PM

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