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WOW that was a long three days. On Saturday, Adrianna and I rented a U-Haul trailer and proceeded to load everything we’ve ever owned into it.

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It was awful.

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The trailer filled up, and by the time we were finished we had thrown away some things we wanted to give away, and filled my car (a small, black, two-door Pontiac) and Adrianna’s car (a Nissan Xterra) to the brim. Our packing was interrupted by two visits from friends, both of which were very welcome breaks from the monotony of packing. After the second break, a sushi dinner with the Gallaspy sisters, a pair of smart but raucous party animals, we went home to finish packing in earnest. We weren’t done until 2:00 a.m. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for our exit time the next day.

On Sunday, we woke up at the excruciating hour of 6:00 a.m. and it was pouring outside.

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We wedged our mattress in the U-Haul, squeaky-cleaned the apartment, and walked Penley so that we could hit the road by 8 o’clock. It was unpleasant. To give you some idea of how unpleasant, I offer the following brief anecdote: I strongly dislike coffee. I think it tastes terrible and the concept of drinking bean juice makes me shiver. But, for the sake of this road trip, I drank not one, but TWO (count ‘em, TWO) cups of watered down, sugared up bean juice. I wouldn’t suggest it.

Adrianna and I drove separate cars and listened to separate iPods in order to entertain ourselves during the ten hours it would take us to reach the safe haven of Dallas, where my Grandmother Martha lives. I made it about a third of the way from the audiobook for Ilium, by Dan Simmons, before the reader’s nasal voice drove me nuts and forced me to the less enthralling but less enraging haven of my iPod’s music library. Time crawled by, but after ten hours, we pulled into Dallas, got out of our cars, stretched, and said hello to Martha and her little Cairn Terrier, Armstrong.

Dinner at Martha’s was very fun. My aunt Jenny and my uncle James and his girlfriend Marjorie all stopped by, and we spent the evening chatting at a round table, discussing our plans and anxieties about China. I was reminded how much Jenny looked like my mother over the course of the evening, with her hair pulled back behind her ears and the unique mannerisms that accompany her speaking. It was nice to be in a place that felt like home.

After a couple of hours and a tasty meal, Jenny, James, and Marjorie made their goodbyes, offered some advice on how to haul that god-forsaken U-Haul the rest of the way to Kansas, and rode off into the night. Or rather, late evening (it was only like, 8:30 p.m.). Our exhaustion overcame us, and after some quick goodnights to Martha and Armstrong, Adrianna and I hit the hay, drifting to sleep by 9:00.

At 7:00 we awoke, refreshed, revitalized, and still not really ready for the road ahead. We had a couple of donuts, courtesy of Martha, packed our stuff back into the cars, and hit the road for the second day in a row by 8:00 a.m. Dallas traffic, notoriously the most aggravating, accident-riddled, rubber-necking traffic I’ve ever encountered, was actually pretty clear that morning. We encountered no accidents on our way out, and made great time on the road up to Kansas. Monday was only a one cup of coffee day for me, thanks to the mountain of sleep I got at Martha’s. When we hit Oklahoma City Adrianna peeled off to stop by her house, pick up a credit card, and play with her parents doglets (and say hi to Tommy, her cat that went missing last month then randomly showed back up). This gave me time, in my ponderous vehicle, to make up some ground and really burn up the miles. When Adrianna got back on I-35 thirty minutes later (essentially the only road you need to take if you’re driving from Dallas to Kansas City) she was chasing me, like the big white dude (Jeremy Clarkson) in Top Gear chases after Captain Slow. In this instance, Captain Slow won! I pulled in to my house at about 4:45 p.m., and was greeted by the frantic and excited jumps of Skye, a forty-odd pound mutt that my brother Sutton and I had rescued a couple years before when the mailman brought her to our door. Adrianna pulled up about five minutes later, a looking disappointment crossing her face as I did a little victory dance in the driveway.

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Susan (my mom) and Sutton came home later, and we had a tasty little dinner with some barbecue beef, a green salad and a bunch of fruits. After dinner, we took a much needed walk around the property, during which we got to watch little Penley pretend to be a real dog in the high grass. The sunset was beautiful, a glowing yellow orb slowly descending into the hills, lighting up the night sky in shades of amber and red. Eventually, we settled in for the night, exhausted but relieved that tomorrow we wouldn’t have to spend ten more hours hauling our crap across America. Instead, tomorrow will bring the nightmare of UN-loading everything from the U-Haul. Hopefully, the contents of the trailer won’t come spilling out in a giant pile of odds and and ends the second we open the sliding door. The move isn’t over yet, but at least we’re almost done with our stupidly-large mound of possessions.

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