Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Arkansas ate my soul... and other tales: Part 1

So, hey, what did you do this weekend? I drove from Florida to Missouri with a car full of stuff and cats.

If you remember back a while, I had decided to move back home for about 6 months to help dig myself out of my financial situation. (See no electricity for 2 weeks, thus no blogging lately!)

Here's the thing, though: A few years ago, a roadtrip would have sounded pretty fun. Make some great road cds, eat crappy gas station food, see new sights. All good, and an adventure, right? Except that I've had panic attacks driving for the past 3 years. For the first year or so, I couldn't even drive a few blocks without totally not being able to breathe. When I moved to Florida, I was totally alone, and had to kind of get over it out of necessity. Eventually I could drive around town just fine, but any kind of 30+ minute trip would be seriously not fun. Pretty much none of my friends knew about it because it's kind of embarassing. I know it shouldn't be, but that's life, we all have egos.

Let me tell you, I searched for every possible way to get back without having to drive. I tried to find someone, anyone that I could pay to drive my car + cats back for me, or a way to fly with the cats and have someone drive just the car. ZERO luck. A "friend" of the family that we thought might be able to do it wanted $250 + his flight to FL + a hotel night paid for + all his food and snacks. Um, hi, remember the part where I am moving because I am BROKE? So that was out. I looked at every. single. airline that flew from Orlando to anywhere convenient in Missouri, and only ONE lets you take more than one cat in the carry-on. You have to have a recent vet certificate, though, which was another financial hurdle. (A side note- way too late when the fare had jumped from $19.99 to $179.99, I found a vet in Orlando who is REALLY FREAKING CHEAP. If you live in the Orlando area, check out Mayfair near The Loop. I haven't been personally, but their exams are only $33, travel certificate is $10, and rabies shots are FIVE dollars. I could have had both cats totally covered for $100!)

I finally realized that there was pretty much no other way, so I started looking at it as a challenge. I was off traveling by myself at 19, so it sucked that 28 year old me couldn't handle a road trip. However, I figured that if I could find a way to make it through 1000 miles of driving home, I'd be pretty freaking proud, and maybe my body would even adapt to driving to the point that overexposure to it for two days would get rid of the panic attacks.

I wish I could say that worked- the brain is pretty stubborn once it decides to have a weird response to something, I guess, but I DID survive. It took a lot of Xanax and a few books on tape, but I made it through. The only time I got majorly panic attacky was the very end of the first day. I don't know if it was total exhaustion or my medicine wearing off or what, but I was hyperventilating trying to find a hotel. Otherwise, though, the trip wasn't so bad. I never felt *relaxed*, but it wasn't a constant struggle just to breathe like I had worried.

So now with all the background out of the way, I can tell you the actual story!

Tuesday was my last night of work, which was emotionally draining, because saying goodbye to people who have been your second family for the past 2+ years sucks. Lots of tears. Wednesday I tried my best to get a good chunk of packing done, but ended up mostly doing last minute errands, and taking one good nap. Thursday I had my final Girly Day Out with Katie (I shall post about that later!), after a morning spent running around town for like 3 hours with Ashlee looking for a cat carrier.

Let me digress about THAT for a minute, too!

I originally wanted something like this:

I knew I didn't want the traditional hard-sided pet carrier, because it somehow seemed like it would get REALLY hot on a two day road trip. However, all the cage-type ones I found in the size I wanted were way too expensive. My cats are both pretty small, but since it was a long trip, I wanted room to put in a small litter box, and still give them plenty of room to move around, lie down, etc. At one pet shop, I foudn these Canine Campers:

Um, hello, perfect! Nice and airy, light, awesome. But the only ones the pet store had were GINORMOUS, and thus like $70. Thankfully, I then checked Target, and they had a somewhat smaller, thinner one on sale for $24! SCORE!

The only (major) negative is that it takes up almost ALL of my back seat. My back seat is small, and I guess that I didn't realize just how much a carrier of the size I wanted would use! It made stuffing the car even more of a challenge!

Speaking of which, since my Friday was pretty crazy (stories I would love to share, but can't!), I ended up literally falling over asleep on Friday night, unable to totally finish packing everything into the car. I was mostly done, and guessed I had maybe an hour or so's worth of work left to do in the morning before I left. I needed to turn in the key by 10am when the office opened, so I planned to get up at 8 so I could be out and on the road by 10, but preferably earlier.

Thanks to my internal clock being smarter than me, I woke up at 7:30 and got to work. By 9:45 I was thinking that maybe I should call the office and let them know that it might be like 10:30 before I was out. At 10:15 the office people were knocking on my door asking when I would be out. I told them I had about half an hour's left, and they said it looked like more, but I was pretty sure. Well, as you can probably guess, they came back about 11:30 and said the manager was sending maintenance up NOW to change the locks. ACK.

Luckily after they had come by earlier, I frantically texted Ashlee to wake up and HELP ME!!!! It was already in the 80s, I had no air conditioning, I was still exhausted from the night before, and I was FREAKING OUT. So she spent about an hour with me systematically trying to clear out rooms. Finally after the office people came again, we just grabbed most of what was left and stuck it in her apartment (five whole feet across the hall.)

I have to tell you, I have NEVER left an apartment that messy! I mean, I left my BED. (Well, it actually belongs to Ash, but she didn't want it back, so I just left it.) The closet was full of hangers, I left the (dirty) cat litterbox, a box of magazines, various trash, a pillow... I would NEVER leave an apartment like that, but when they basically tell you "Grab what you can now", I didn't feel like I had a choice.

I was in pretty major freak out mode by the time we finished, and Ashlee being the smart girl she is convinced me to go shower before we took the cats and the rest of the stuff down to my car. I had been fighting the shower, not wanting to waste time getting on the road, but dude, I needed it. Not just because I had been sweating running up and down 3 flights of stairs for over 4 hours, but just to get me to CALM the hell down!

I took the fastest shower ever (Less than 5 min), and then we finished stuffing what we could plus the cats in the car. I ended up having to leave something like EIGHT boxes of stuff at Ashlee's to be shipped later. I had a feeling that not quite everything would fit in the car, but never would have guessed it would be that much!!

Ash tried to convince me to just spend the day in town, but I was so ready to get on the road now! And after this incredibly long introduction, I bet you are ready to get to that part, too!

This was only going to be a short one part post, but I have babbled on so much I am going to split it here. I promise to get to the good stuff in the next half!

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