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The Family

One Year Ago: Moving to SLC (Part 2)

Jul 26, 2006

Today, one year ago, it was supposed to be our first morning waking up in Salt Lake City. We didn’t anticipate the pussiness and imminent meltdown of one of our key drivers: Me.

Part 1 of this short chronicle ended with Joey and I starting a three-day road trip beginning in Dallas, Texas. Surprisingly, that day I was able to drive the whole way to Salina (Kansas) with only one rest stop, a few nuts for lunch, and minimal fussiness on walkie-talkie communications. The road was full of construction stretches, and after several stressing hours driving by barricades and orange cones in the darkness, we finally made it to our first sleeping stop that night at 10:30 pm.

Those that are close to me know that I don’t enjoy driving much. Although I’ve done it three times, I hate driving long distances. I hate driving on highways, I hate bad drivers around me, and I hate to drive following another driver – specially, I hate to follow last-minute-turn-master, Joey. Yet, that was exactly the mission, and on day 2, once the adrenaline of the moving day was gone, I failed miserably.

Out of Salina, I started needing to stop every hour. Quickly, it turned to every 25 minutes. I would start yawning uncontrollably at Kansas’ boring landscape, and for 10 extra minutes I would beg Joey (via walkie-talkie) to find a resting stop. He would greet me with icy-cold Red Bulls, but the shot of caffeine was not doing it for me. The poor man was probably whipped by my performance, but he couldn’t have guessed that I would end up shedding big fat tears at a resting area. I felt like an idiot unable to accomplish what others do so easily, so he finally did the wise thing and cut the day short. We stopped in Burlington, CO… 267 miles from Salina, and 475 away from Joey’s planned destination for that day.

I will never forget the sweet comfort I felt during the rest of that day. We took naps (completely unlike me), and had a delicious and stress-free dinner. Then we got in bed and watched “The Day After Tomorrow” and several episodes of the “Dog Whisperer” and “Entourage”. I even watered my dead plants. I loved our room, the bed, the shower. And I slept.

The next day –day 3 of my torture– I was fresh and had more stamina to keep driving. Still, it wasn’t that easy for me since we were hit with more construction, awful traffic on I-25, and a mother storm that forced us to stop at a gas station for 30 minutes. Joey had mentioned he wanted us to stop to see some weird tree somewhere ahead, but he only chose to tell me to turn left when I couldn’t do anything about it, and so he exit the highway while I kept driving ahead. The road quickly turned to a single lane (construction), and I hated to be at the front. Then it got hilly and steeply pointing down as we were coming out of the mountains to hit a valley. I hated my life, and Joey, and I think I may have let him know over the walkie-talkie. I’m sure a bunch of people on our radio frequency had a lot of fun listening to my grunts. We made it to our hotel somewhere in Wyoming a few minutes later. My Latin blood was still boiling.

Day 4 finally came (exactly today, one year ago)… We were given our daily dose of road construction, and the landscape, of course, had a few more curves and slopes. I guess most of the day went ok until we entered Utah and I just couldn’t wait to be done. The drive started to get harder as we were now climbing long stretches with significant traffic around us, and guess what: More fricking construction!

Somewhere close to Park City I couldn’t take it any more. I started asking Joey for a rest stop, and he kept doing what he did the whole trip… He would wait and not exit until he found “the perfect” spot. I started sending dead threats over the walkie-talkie, sounding really pissed and determined to exit with or whitout him. I saw the coming exit and commanded “EXIT NOW”. He said “Here?”. “YES! HERE. RIGHT NOW!”. So off we went…

The exit didn’t lead to any resting place. It put us on the old road to the valley – a single lane on each direction with a speed limit of 40 mph. The landscape was beautiful, and best of all: We were the only people on that road. I loved it! Suddenly Joey stopped by the side of the road… I thought he was coming to spank me. Instead, he handed me the last frapuccino and we contemplated the landscape… Joey was a little worried that there wouldn’t be an entrance to the interstate further ahead. We hadn’t seen one since we exit. Deep inside I wanted to stay there forever. I even fantasized about building a little house on the mountain.

We found an old gas pump a little ahead. I felt like we were in a scene from the past. The place looked like an old tiny town, and an old man wearing overalls came out of one of the shops to fill our tanks. That was my last moment of peace. We finally got back to the interstate and soon started to go downhill with the road full of scary signs showing a car going down a triangle at a 45° angle, repeatedly warning us to test our breaks. I had to suck it up until we made it home.

The view of the Salt Lake valley coming out of the mountains was glorious. I didn’t have much time to contemplate with the traffic and the quick turns to get on our way to the house. But that was a beautiful moment. I’ve always loved seeing cities from a distance, and this was so meaningful… Sort of the prize after my personal battle which had started so many months before. The rest of the way went quickly, and soon I recognized our neighborhood. I stopped the car right in front of our house at 7:16 pm. Our neighbors –who I didn’t know, but Joey had met– were outside, and as soon as I got out of the car they walked to me with a big smile and said: “You made it”. I felt it in my heart, and yes, somehow – not very quietly– I had made it.

That day and today I remember my most recurring thought during the trip…

Although I was hopeful of new beginnings in a new home with new opportunities for Joey, I was sad to leave Texas. I was tired from all the months of preparation… I was worried about my work prospects in Salt Lake City… I hated to be driving for so long… It was painful, and my only comfort was the thought of our friends and family wishing us luck.

I thought of Tom, the cupcakes he had baked for my farewell party, the card he gave me right before I left the office, the chick-flick night he hosted at his house with Jennifer and Marla…

I thought of Seda, all the laughs… working so hard to send me off with gifts and cake… coming to my house that Friday to give me some photos of the party and say goodbye one last time…

I thought of Marla, all the fun at work, our conversations, the angel she gave me a few days earlier… the tiny tiger she gave me on Christmas so that I could always know that “I’m grrrreat”…

BFFs at Travelocity

And Jennifer, who wasn’t there on my last day but did everything she could to let me know she’d miss me.

I thought of this client of mine, who claims he has a voodoo doll named “Little Maria”, and he threatens to pinch her with pins whenever something wacky happens to his web site. Instead, right before the trip, he told me that the doll was sitting by the window looking out into the backyard, munching raspberries and figs he had given her, feeling like she had rainbows in her hair without anything to interrupt her thoughts and actions. And I loved that image…

I thought of Tony, our conversation one week before leaving… How comforting she was to my worries and venting…

I thought of our families, knowing they probably would be thinking of us all those days…

I thought of all the friends and people who replied to our moving announcement with personal messages beyond a simple “good luck”…

I realized that so many people were wishing us well, sending us love and luck, hoping we would make it safe to our new home… It helped me so much to think of this, and I saw it like extra power to the bubble I always visualize around us whenever we go on a trip… Our movers turned out to be crap, as we saw when we started unloading the truck, but after four days on the road, carrying all of our stuff with us, we made it safe… And I thank all these people so much for having been there with us during this long and hard trip coming home.

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One comment:

  1. On Jul 26, 2006, Joey wrote:

    And Maria hasn’t driven since she made it here!! I think the trip left some deep, deep scars.