Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

Days Two and Three – Picking Up the Conversation

After my last post, I turned off my computer and climbed into bed. Let me preface this by saying I love true crime shows. My favorite is Cold Case Files. Just before I left Texas, I watched an episode about a man who killed women staying in the hotel in which he worked. Really not a good idea to watch something like that just before I left on a long trip. So, I woke up at least three times in the night and had to make sure the door was locked. Between that and Sparky meowing off and on for hours, I didn’t get much sleep.

In the morning, I loaded up the critters and headed off to Mesa. The trip was uneventful. I continue to be surprised at how well the pets are doing. The cats just hang out in their carriers. Shadow meows a bit but not much. Mostly, they just hang out and sleep.

I listened to 60 Minutes podcasts and got to Mesa around 5ish. I’ve been looking forward to this leg of the journey for a long time because I finally got to meet Elsieaustin. We’ve been emailing and IMing and talking on the phone for months. We’ve had these intense discussions about, well, everything. So we finally got to meet in person. She was just as wonderful as I thought she’d be. After spending a long time hauling my two very large cat carriers, complete with cats, my dog, and all my stuff into her apartment, we settled into a conversation that felt like we were just picking up where we left off from our last one. We talked about Xena, the XOC, writing, stories, and a bunch more stuff. Before I knew it, it was 11pm and time to get ready for bed.

I was pleasantly surprised that Sparky only meowed a little bit in the night and I slept really good. We sat and talked some more over coffee since she was going into work late. It was really nice just getting to visit. She suggested we carry the cats down in our arms this time instead of the carriers and that made it so much easier. The very last animal was R.J. the cat. We looked everywhere for him but just couldn’t find him. Finally, there he was under the bathroom sink all nestled in amongst the rolls of toilet paper and cotton balls. He’s so funny. Back at the car, me and Elsie said our goodbyes. It was a really awesome evening/morning and I’m really glad we got to spend some time together. Hmmm, the Carol Burnett song just burst into my head.

I’m so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say so long

I’m really, really sleepy. Can you tell? :D

After leaving Elsie’s house, I just drove and drove and then drove some more. I was on I10 for over a 1000 miles and the vast majority of it was a rollicking gallop through nothing, nothing, and more nothing. I think I was in that drive trance when I realized I was about to miss my exit for I5. I sped across three lanes of traffic but I made it. I was so glad I hadn’t missed it because I probably would have hit Malibu before I realized something wasn’t right.

I expected to get caught in LA traffic but surprisingly, I didn’t. In fact, there was very little traffic at all. Not once did I hit the bumper to bumper I was expecting. The landscape FINALLY started to change too! I was very excited about that. I had mountains to look at and a city to see. Well, I think it was mountains and a city. The haze that squatted over the entire region made it hard to tell. At some point along the way, I hit some major wind action and had to white knuckle the steering wheel. I’ve gotten too many speeding tickets and honestly my days of speeding are over so everybody and their grandma on her moped were whizzing by me at dizzying speeds. But they were all real friendly and gave me a little wave as they zipped around me. At least, that’s what I choose to believe they were doing.

I saw something today I’ve never seen before. Not in 39 years of living. Runaway truck ramps. These are ramps that go up so that if a truck loses its brakes while going down the hill, it can stop. I had no idea that trucks were that prone to running away. Makes you a little afraid to get in front of them. And there were lots of trucks. It seemed that they were limited to the right two lanes so I stayed in one of the left two lanes. Of course, since I wasn’t speeding, that gave everybody plenty of opportunities to wave at me as they blew by.

After what seemed like 20 years, I finally pulled into the La Quinta parking lot. Today was a nine hour day. Day one was also a nine hour day. It’s amazing how much longer nine hours can seem on day three of a six day trip as opposed to day one. My room’s on the second floor but luckily it’s right near the elevator so getting everyone up to my room was a piece of cake. The IHOP is conveniently located right next door so I had breakfast for dinner. It was fantastically good. It’s not easy eating on a road trip when you’re vegetarian. I can’t just pull into Dairy Queen and order a veggie burger. I am in California but even this granola state isn’t that granola yet. Although come to think of it, it may be. I didn’t actually stop anywhere to look. My friend Bri tells me between here and Sacramento is a great place to get fruit and nuts.

Tomorrow is a short day, only about five hours. I’m hooking up with a bunch of my recovery friends in Sacramento. We’re gonna meet for dinner and hang out. I haven’t seen them in at least nine months, some of them it’s been over a year, so I’m really excited. A couple are even driving three hours just to see me. I feel special. :D

I’m truly exhausted now but I still need to walk Pachelbel before I turn in. R.J. is eating the dog’s food, Sparky is sitting on the table looking terrified, and Shadow is eating and threatening to snot all over the wall. I was hoping her allergies would be better here but apparently they won’t be. Ah well, what’s a bit of snot amongst loved ones?

Day One – West Texas Wasteland

Well, day one is coming to a close. It was actually easier than I expected. Except the leaving my mom this morning. That wasn’t easier. It’s been a really long time, over 15 years, since I moved from the state. Back then I was too fucked up to feel anything about it. Today, I know what I’ll be missing. I love my parents very much and I’m gonna miss them like crazy. But, I’ll be back to visit and there’s always the Internet and phone calls. Hell, we might even be talking more. So, after the painful goodbyes I was ready to go.

Actually first, I had to load up the cats. I got my car set up with two big carriers that take up the whole back seat. I got the two black kitties, Shadow and Sparky, in one and R.J. in the other. Pachelbel was sitting in the front seat with me. I had taken the whole brood to the vet on Thursday and he told me to give them Benadryl for motion sickness or if they needed some sedation. Shadow, the old lady, tends to get motion sick so I gave her some Benadryl. Well, I tried to give her some. She foamed at the mouth for a while and then threw it up. So much for the Benadryl. Oh well. I got them all loaded up, I got Pachelbel hooked up with her seat belt harness and off I went.

All went well until I took a wrong turn and ended up in Menard instead of Junction. It was a thirty mile mistake. But, I took a shortcut and only got about 45 minutes behind. Once I hit I10 in Junction, I had 444 miles of absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. No towns, no houses, no gas stations. Nothing. Well, there was the occasional gas station. There’d have to be. But those were usually about 60-70 miles apart. What was really interesting though was watching the land shift from the familiar hill country that I grew up with to the stark, barren mountains of west Texas.

I stopped about every hour and a half or so to let Pachelbel pee and stretch my legs. I also got gas every chance I got in case the next gas station was too far away, lol. The only scary one was in Kent. It was nothing but a falling down building with truly questionable restrooms. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. Pachelbel likes to smell everything she can reach before she pees so we did a lot of walking around.

I got to El Paso about 7pm or so. I gained an hour along the way so it was actually 8pm my time. I left home at 10am so it was a 10 hour trip. It would have probably taken 9 if I hadn’t taken that wrong turn. Oh well. It was a pretty drive at least.

So, now I’m kicked back at the La Quinta. They are a pet friendly hotel that doesn’t charge extra for the pets. A big winner in my book. I’m stuffed full of pizza and now I think it’s time to go to bed.

Tomorrow I’m headed to Mesa where I’ll be hooking up with Elsieaustin! Yay!!! I just hope she’s ready for me and the brood to stay the night.

Speaking of the brood, here they are. RJ is at the head of the bed, Shadow is in the middle, Sparky is at the foot, and Pachelbel is on the floor:

Traveling to Seattle

The Longest Two Weeks of My Life

The movers are at my house right now taking away all the boxes and various things that I’ve busted my butt to get ready. My last day at work was September 28 and it’s been nonstop work since then. It is just amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate. I went through everything that first week after quitting my job to decide what to sell. We had already decided to get rid of a lot of stuff. Moving to a new city, new state, may as well start over with new stuff.

So, I started going through the house room by room. I felt like I was back at Kmart having a blue light sale. “Everything must go!!!” Rhonda had used the back bedroom as her office/studio and it was filled with the products of 10 years worth of hobbies. She went down a lot of creative paths before she found her current passion, knitting, so there was a multitude of various items in that room. She had gone through there before we left for Seattle back at the beginning of September. Since she wasn’t coming back, I wanted her to tell me how much everything should cost. Our crafty friends came out the weekend before the sale and bought everything they wanted. We gave them a really good deal.

Part of the process of going through everything was also hauling it up to my parents house where we were having the sale. They have the most amazing house. It’s a giant barn with the house built inside. They spent an entire year during nights and weekends and assorted days off building it mostly themselves. My brother was a huge help too. Rhonda and I just showed up occasionally to ooh and ahh. Anyway, they have an enormous front porch that turned out to be perfect for the sale. My dad has this giant trailer that he brought down to my front door so I could begin loading stuff up. It was a family effort getting it all up there. My mom and dad helped so much and my brother showed up just in time to help move the heavy couch and the bulky armoire.

The area that took the most work was our shed. This was our junk drawer only on a much larger scale. If we didn’t know what else to do with it, we put it in the shed. Now most of this stuff, we had no desire to keep. We just didn’t know what else to do with it. After pulling it all out onto the yard, I soon realized that our keep pile was gonna be tiny. Sure enough. Out of the entire shed, we kept four boxes full of Rhonda’s papers, one set of shelves, a stand for my drum, and two wooden boxes my grandpa had made. Everything else went onto the trailer. It doesn't rain all the much here during the summer but sure enough, as soon as I had everything piled out on the lawn, the storm clouds began to gather. I raced around throwing things onto the trailer desperately hoping to beat the rain because we don’t just have a bit of rain. We have downpours that completely soak everything. Some of the stuff I had painstakingly pulled out of tool shed would ruin if it got wet. I’m sure I was funny to watch, heaving boxes and various items over the side of the trailer. As I got the last thing tossed on, I could see the rain coming. It poured in sheets from the big black clouds bearing down on me.

I hopped into the pickup, hoping I could get the trailer in my parents’ garage before the rain hit. My dad’s farm truck is this old Ford manual transmission. The driver’s door has to be opened a certain way or it gets stuck. I momentarily forgot that in my haste and was left jerking on the useless door handle, cussing a blue streak. And then I remembered, pushed the handle in the right way, and voila it opened easy peasy. Once in the truck, I stalled it three times before I got the right mixture of gas and clutch to make the beast move. The rain was coming up the field behind me as I drove the 500 feet to my parents’ house. Luckily they have a drive through garage so I was able to just pull it straight on in. Not two seconds after the back of the trailer cleared the door, the downpour caught up and within moments, the ground was soaking wet. I had made it!

We started the sale on Friday morning with three and a half trailer loads of stuff. To say the sale was a success would be an understatement. By the time it was all said and done, we had made almost a $1000 and only had about 2/3 of a trailer left. My dad hauled it up to the Crisis Center and we gave it to them. It had been a lot of effort but it had certainly been worth it.

The other really good thing about the sale was that now only stuff I was keeping was still in my house. Well, that turned out to not be entirely true. By the time I’m done today, I’ll have another load to take to the Crisis Center. Another hazard I discovered of living in the house as you’re packing it up was that I kept packing up things I actually needed to use. I packed up all the dishes and then dang if I didn’t leave me anything to eat off of. So, there are a few boxes I have packed and repacked a couple of times. I also had trouble with the things I may need on my trip. I packed up all my clothes and then realized it was colder where I was going than it is here, so I had to unpack and pull out some pants. I also had to realize this stuff won’t be at our house in Seattle for 10-15 days. So what I pack is what I’ll have to wear until the end of October. Hopefully, it’ll be enough. I only have so much room in the car.

Adventure #2 (or whatever) took place yesterday. I took all four critters to the vet. I figured it’d be a trial run for when I take them with me to Seattle. I put Shadow and Sparky in one carrier and R.J. by himself in the other one. Since R.J. and Sparky don’t get along, I figured it was the best way to go. Pachelbel sat up in the front seat. They were surprisingly easy to handle. The only glitch was Shadow throwing up on the way home. Now they all have their shots, Sparky got treated for ear mites, and Pachelbel came up clean for heart worms. They’re all ready to go. The vet told me to give them Benadryl if they got car sick so that definitely goes on the grocery list.

Once the movers get done, I’m going to finish up here in the house and move on to the next task. Pachelbel is in bad need of some grooming if she’s gonna hang out in my car for a week so we’re taking her to Petsmart to get all dolled up. I had wanted to go see my uncle but it’s just not gonna happen. Since I’m leaving on Monday, I’d like to have one day to rest before I go.

I can’t believe it’s this close. It seemed like it would be forever when we first decided to do this. Now I’m only three days away from leaving Texas and starting a new life in Seattle. I miss Rhonda so much and I can’t wait to see her. I think that has been the hardest part. Being away from her for so long. In just a week, I’ll get to see her again. And when the movers arrive, I get to do all this again in reverse. But Rhonda will be helping on that end! I also told her she can’t give me a hard time about not having a job for at least two months. I need a break!

My New Tattoo

My grandparents were very important to me. I was an only grandchild and they doted on me. They both died last year. Since I’m leaving Texas to move to Seattle next week, I wanted to take a little part of them with me. When I was a kid, they had a CB radio. Our handles were Mama Rat, Papa Rat, and Baby Rat. The Rat Pack. My buddy Bart did this tattoo for me in honor of them. The little cowboy outfit was my favorite one and Grandpa was always doing crossword puzzles. It turned out bigger than I thought but I love it. It covers half the outside of my left leg.

Rat Pack tattooIn the 70s on the CB radio we were the rat pack: Mama Rat, Papa Rat, and Baby Rat. I got this tattoo in memory of my grandparents.

The Things We Keep

I have moved several times in my life. Each time, I’ve had varying degrees of stuff. When I first left my parents home, everything I owned fit in my little Ford Pinto station wagon. Over the years, I accumulated more things but it seems that every time I moved, I got rid of a lot. By the time I got married, the two of us had a bunch of stuff. We have furniture, dishes, linens, cookware, pictures, knick knacks. All manner of things. Now since my granny died, I also have a set of china and some crystalware. We plan on getting rid of lots of this stuff but I think we’re still going to end up with more than we think we will.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that one box we all seem to carry from place to place. Everyone has it. The box (or whatever you use to store it in) that contains those things we don’t really need anymore but just can’t seem to get rid of. Every once in a while, usually when moving, we open up that box and take a walk through memory lane. That’s the real purpose for that box, after all. It’s not that we want to keep these things per se. It’s that we don’t want to forget the times these items represent.

I have decided to get rid of my box. I’m moving to Seattle. Opening a new chapter in my life. Making the biggest move of my life. Now is a good time to leave that box behind. It is an odd assortment of random items collected over the past 39 years.

There’s the Budman. He was the superhero that Budweiser came up with in the late 60s/early 70s. He’s a funny looking man with a jaw bigger than Jay Leno and menacing dark eyes. His Nerf-material body wears painted on red, white, and blue clothes. Around his neck is a stiff plastic red cape. Chunks have been gouged out of his arms and nose from the many years spent bouncing around in this box with the other paraphernalia of my youth. He smells like burnt insulation and crackles when you press too hard. Why have I kept him? When I was born, my father delivered beer for Budweiser. His occupation listed on my birth certificate is Keg Man. So, Budman represents that part of my childhood when my father still brought me gifts. The time before he turned away and found himself a new family. 

There’s a brown intricately carved jewelry box. I think it belonged to my great-grandmother but then again we may have gotten it at a garage sale when I was a kid. I don’t remember. It once had a lock but I lost the key and had to twist it off. Inside are notes passed from the hands of my friends while I was in high school. The majority of them are just “Mrs. Laird is sooo boring” and “Billy is soo cute” type notes. A few of them deal with darker, heavier issues. “My dad got drunk and hit Mom again last night. Can I stay at your house?” “I think I might be pregnant. Will you go to the doctor with me?” There’s also notes from a boy I thought I liked. We were discussing going to some dance. That was when I was trying to fit in and pretend I liked boys instead of admitting the truth: I liked my friends a whole lot more. Why have I kept these notes? Maybe because they represent an innocence I have since lost. They are the musings of children who no longer exist. I’m not the same girl who read those notes secretively under the desk, trying to keep the teacher from seeing. That girl has since been lost or perhaps sloughed off by the emerging adult I became. Maybe that is why I keep the notes. To remind myself of who I once was. 

Down at the bottom of the box is a sticker. It’s red with white and blue lettering. Inside the shape of Texas are the words “Emergency Medical Technician.” I bought this sticker at the cop shop in Austin. The store had a locked security door with a camera mounted at the top. I hit the red call button then held up my ID to the camera. A low buzz indicated I had been chosen to enter. Once inside, the aroma of gun oil was almost over powering. A glass enclosed room contained more rifles and handguns than I had ever seen in one place. Off to the left were racks of clothes, boots, and bullet proof vests. Over to the right were shelves full of leather or vinyl accessories for the well dressed cop. Amongst all these bristling symbols of authority, I found the two sets of shelves I came looking for. Here was the medic gear. Scissors, little flashlights, trauma shears, and Spanish to English translation books filled the shelves. A plastic bin contained the sticker I had coveted for over a year. I pulled out my prize and took three of them to the counter. “I just got my EMT yesterday,” I proudly proclaimed to the heavyset, sweaty man behind the counter. “Well good for you, little lady,” he told me in a big, booming voice. Back outside, I cleaned off the upper right corner of my back windshield and placed my sticker there for all to see. I was so proud, it’s a wonder I didn’t burst. That was 1990. I went on to become a paramedic and work for Austin EMS. It was my dream. Now, the dream having ended in disillusionment and resentment, I’ve decided to get rid of that sticker. It’s a symbol of a world I once believed in but now see doesn’t really exist. Or maybe it’s that my idea of that world wasn’t realistic in the first place. Either way, the sticker has no place in my life anymore. 

Do any of us really need to keep that box? Is it useful to have these reminders of days long gone or is it a weight that keeps us mired in the past? I’d have to say, at least for myself, it’s a little of both. Sometimes I like to be reminded that I once thought who was going to be chosen homecoming queen was important. That I had such small cares at one time. Another part of me wants to cut all that adrift. Let it become one of those amorphous images that occasionally flutters into my conscious. 

I love metaphors and this box is one of the greatest metaphors of my life. This is all the stuff I’ve been carrying around. All the joy and happiness but also all the heartache, longing, hardship, and pain. I think it’s time to empty the box. Everything I need is held inside my heart. Everything else is just excess baggage.

The Stress Has Begun

In just five days, Rhonda will fly out of Texas for the last time as a resident. We are going to Seattle for my Breast Cancer 3 Day walk as we had planned long before we decided to move. I’ll fly back on September 12th but Rhonda will stay up there. She’s starting to get very stressed. So much to do, so little time. Today she sold her car. It was kinda sad. That car was her last physical link to her dad. We made a visit to the cemetery to visit his grave. This weekend, we’ll be packing up everything of hers, especially the boxes I’ll be shipping to her. It’s gonna be a hectic few days but then it’s vacation, vacation, vacation!!!

And the Adventure Begins

In just a little under two weeks, my partner and I went from being content living in Texas to becoming Seattle transplants. I wanted a place to chronicle our journey. Hence, the birth of this blog. Join me as we pick up and move our lives, our three cats and one dog, and move to Seattle. It should be one heck of a ride.

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