OK, so now we can laugh about it! Yep, most of our family and friends by now know that we recently moved nearly halfway across the country, from Kansas City to Charlottesville,Virginia, a place that 3 months ago, we had never even heard of. I can’t believe that its already been about 4 weeks that we’ve been here! But what no one knows, is how the beginning of this journey east, turned out to be either a newsworthy drama fit for the movies, or a made for television sitcom.
We made the decision to move so that we could be closer to Marc’s family in Baltimore. The goodbye’s were becoming too painful when we would visit, the girls would be in tears, insisting that they didn’t want to leave Grandma, and that they wanted to play with their cousins.
Although we love Kansas, and know that it’s a fantastic place to raise a family, well, we were just missing ours. The majority of Marc’s family is in Baltimore, and my family is in Texas and Oklahoma. So, besides Marc’s youngest brother who lived nearby, we were pretty much isolated from just about all of our family members. We decided that we wanted to give the girls an opportunity to get to know their peeps. Besides, no one is getting any younger!
So why Charlottesville? Marc did some research on the best places to live on the east. We were pretty certain that we did not want to live in the city of Baltimore, we wanted something a lot more low key. Charlottesville was one of the locations that popped up on the internet search. We had never heard of it, but the accolades were enticing: Voted Best City to live in America, Top 5 in Best places to raise a family, Top 5 of the Healthiest Cities, Top 10 in Best places to start a small business, Top 5 of the most scenic places to visit, etc…. Wowzers, seemed to good to be true. So we flew out for a visit to make sure that Charlottesville lived up to all of the hype that was on paper. Well, we fell in love. We knew this would be our knew home! There’s a reason for the slogan ‘Virginia is for Lover’s.’
Once we had decided to actually make the big move, a feat accomplished in 30 days, I did not fret, as a matter in fact, I sprung into action at once accepting and willing to take on the challenge! That’s just my personality, always making things work. There is no can’t in my repertoire.
Unfortunately, I had to work up until the day that we were to pick up our moving truck, and had high expectation that Marc, his brother Gary, and his brother Khalid (whom had graciously agreed to fly down from Baltimore to assist) could disassemble and pack up the entire house in one day (foolish), then we could roll out the next morning. Suffice it to say, that when I returned home from work that day expecting to find the whole house mostly packed up, instead I found the moving truck about a quarter full and the boys looking hot, exhausted, and hungry from working hard all day.
In the end, it took three whole days to pack up and clean the house, and we set off at midnight after a full day’s worth of work (foolish). What was supposed to be about a 15 hour trip took 30! We thought we could drive straight through, and just stop for food and a couple of snoozes here and there at a rest stop, however, we were in for a rude awakening. Since we were not traveling alone, we had to comply with the needs of all of those on our road trip, which required sleeping rest breaks that seemed like nearly every couple of hours lasting for nearly a couple of hours each.
Also, the big rig that was being driven (basically our whole house on wheels), had an average speed of about 50 -55 MPH, and that was with the pedal to the metal, so we weren’t able to roll out on the highway like we had hoped. Additionally, the road from KC to VA is very scenic mind you, but also very curvy, mountainous, and full of inclines – so imagine navigating this new terrain in the dark!
So yes, I think I can speak for us all when I say we were all growing in our frustration during the course of this 30 hour journey. Compound this with cranky children, a wrong turn, getting the big rig stuck in the middle of the night up a steep hill in a tight parking lot of a backwoods Bates motel – and taking nearly an hour to work it out (we thought we were going to have to call for assistance).
After what seemed like a lifetime, Charlottesville was in sight. Marc and my motto during this trip beginning midway through was “It could always be worse, let’s just remain calm and just get there!” I swear, we must have said this at least 10 times. And finally, glory had arrived when we saw the first of two exits for Charlottesville.
I had just dozed off and was startled awake by Marc frantically asking me which Charlottesville exit that he was supposed to take. I had pulled up the info on GPS, but as we are now discovering, Charlottesville’s grid is very complicated. Without enough time to react, Marc ended up taking the business district entrance into Charlottesville. Oh well, we thought, they both will take you into Charlottesville (Foolish)!
So, we excitedly entered into the city of Charlottesville, recognizing some areas from our previous trip there mapping out the place. We passed the downtown businesses, a very tight and compact residential neighborhood, The Corner – which is a hangout spot for UVA students located on part of the UVA campus. We beamed proudly and proclaimed, “Yes we finally made it” and gave each other a quick kiss. We saw all of the joggers getting their early morning exercise on – as Charlottesville has been listed in the top 10 of the healthiest cities to live, which is another reason why we chose it.
As we passed under a low bridge and came through, the girls excitedly remarked about the train going across the top of it. Several seconds later, we heard a very loud crashing sound, like perhaps the train had jumped a track. We looked back into our rear view mirror and did not notice anything suspicious. The big rig was now pulling through out from under the bridge, and we chalked it up as a very noisy train.
After several minutes, and with our new home location in sight, we were sitting at the stoplight getting ready to make our final left turn. The cell phone rings, “um, how close are we to your new place, because I think the whole back end of the big rig is about to fall off!
We had no comprehension of what that meant. We looked back at the big rig which was right behind us at the stop light, and watched the passenger jump out (my sister in laws brother who helped make the drive with us) and run to the back of the rig. Looking startled, he quickly ran to our vehicle and declared ” uh, the whole back end of the truck is hanging off!
Once our brains caught up and before we could formulate any words, he stated “We got stuck under that bridge back there”, “We realized too late that we were gonna have trouble fitting through it!”
So that’s what that loud crashing sound was that we heard. Things were finally starting to make sense. Staring blankly out at the final road that was to lead us to the start of our new life, I must have been in shock. How did this happen? We were finally here, were all thoughts racing through my mind. Marc pulled over into the closest parking lot with the big rig following close behind. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to go see, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
Marc bravely got out of our car and I nervously watched him through my rear view mirror walk with the boys to the back of the rig. Marc’s expression was priceless and indescribable; Part horror, part calm, part helpless. I think my brain was confused. I could feel the warm tears running down my cheeks, but then I felt the strangest rising sensation deep down in my gut, growing, raging, bursting inside of me, that finally culminated into hysterics.
I began to laugh a laugh that I have never known. I mean a bone chilling, gut wrenching, crying hysterically laugh! I could not stop. I was doubled over in my seat laughing harder than I have ever laughed in my life. The girls in the car with me were silent. I think somewhat fearful, because they had no frame of reference for this behavior of me. Heck, I had no frame of reference for this behavior of me either.
Apparently, Marc had made his way back to our vehicle for a report, and I can only account from what he’s told me about his bewilderment to find me in such a condition. He climbed back into his seat. I remember not being able to look at him and having my face towards my window – I don’t think I wanted to handle or couldn’t handle what he was going to say – his body language had already told me all.
At first, he thought I was crying, the sound was so maniacal that he couldn’t tell what was going on. After a moment, he could tell that I was crying, but I think he realized that I was also laughing. What I do remember is us finally making eye contact, a soft sound starting to emanate from his mouth, until finally he was also laughing hysterically.
We were laughing so hard and long that we were both sweating. When we were finally able to compose ourselves, Marc looked at me and said, “Well, we’re here – Welcome to Charlottesville baby!” Again, more hysterics.
Not sure what our traveling partners were thinking behind us, but Marc started the engine, and we limped the rest of the way towards the direction of our new home, still in the glow of the excitement that we had finally made it. I again defiantly declared – “it could’ve been worse, but at least we made it!” I know both Marc and I earnestly felt the same way, like we had been through the fire and had made it out safely on the other side. Although we couldn’t vouch for the big rig, our family was still intact, and our thoughts and feelings were already transcended beyond our current circumstances, for we knew in our heart that everything was going to be alright.
Imagine the thoughts of our new neighbors as they watched us in amusement pull up with the whole entire side of a big moving truck hanging off, the back door detached from the top, and the truck damaged so badly, that we couldn’t even open the back door to get out our belongings. We had to call for someone to come out and assess the truck, who had no choice but to cut off the back door so that we could get our things out!. Thank God, that we had the good sense to take out the extra insurance on the rig, because that truck was a done deal.
As the embarrassment began to wear off, as well as the thought that we must look like The Beverly Hillbillies moving in (“Hi ya’ll, we from Kansas”), some of our neighbors came to give us warm greetings – which I’m sure was mostly out of curiosity to find out details about our mishap.
If one could endure what we had just endured to get here to Charlottesville, then this was another minor bump in the road. We had big hopes for this new change of lifestyle, and we weren’t going to let the circumstances of us getting here dictate our attitudes towards our new beginning. Marc has since likened it unto labor pains with childbearing. You’ve got to go through the pain to get to your bundle of joy, likewise, we had to go through our labor pains in order to birth the life that we want to create for ourselves. And we can honestly say, that we are “winning.”