New England Has the Foliage But I'm Not Comin' Back
August 20, 2003

Moving on out to a de-luxe apartment on the faaaaaault! We've got two wide-eyed cats in a cat carrier with multiple wings, gables, and cupolas, it's morning outside, and we're wearing sunscreen.

Yep, this is The Day -- California here we come! The past week of prep has been pretty nasty as evidenced by the massive amounts of bruises, scrapes, and cardboard box burns I've acquired up my arms and down my legs. But finally after two solid days of noise, dust, and Romanian, the movers have "bubble-krafted" and taken away all our stuff.

Never to be seen again.

I'm physically holding Dr. Mathra off from packing the internet connection as this will be my last update for quite awhile. And so now it's just the two of us, the cats, and our barest of bare essentials. Which have been packed into a white Grand Caravan to the veriest stuffing point. I just know we're going to look like a huge marshmallow blowing down I-80. My mother joked that we're going to look like The Bisonette ("That's 'Bee-soh-nay'") family in W.C. Fields' It's a Gift as they similarily hit the California trail with their clothes and chairs and animals and children lashed onto an open car. And you know? She's not far wrong.

We figure with driving about twelve hours a day, it should take us five days to get to San Francisco, and we're going to be stopping at every flea-bitten red motel that leaves on six super lights atop its eight roofs for us. I'm hoping we don't have another Libby, Montana situation, but I think it's much easier than teaching the cats how to roast hot dogs and the secret to killing all the mosquitos in the tent before going to bed. Cheaper too, probably. Those hot dogs murder the food budget. We got on over to Trader Joe's and bagged lots of freeze-driedish goodies: Gorp, dried apple slices for me and dried pineapple slices for Dr. Mathra, barbeque-flavored soy nuts (see how you can be totally healthy yet so not at the exact same time?), crackers, crystallized ginger for my cursed stomach, tartar control snacks in both salmon and turkey flavors -- wait, that's the cats' grocery bag -- summer sausage (the Vander Weide family doesn't road-trip without several tubes of summer sausage), and a few other perishables from our fridge that will be eaten the first day out.

Okay, now comes the really hard part. I know I've bitched about this place in the past, but now, faced with leaving it quite possibly for good...god, am I going to miss it.

I'll miss...

The Weather

The New England snow that comes cleverly disguised as rain and seeps into your bones no matter how many sweaters, fleece vests, turtlenecks, or balaclavas you pile on, and the stenchingly hot, humid summers.

Except not. Look, we're moving to a place where the weather feels like what it actually is. None of this "It's 83 out but with the heat index feels like 105," so don't expect me to shed any tears over that one. I'll just shed the sweat.

The mass hysteria that erupts when the Massachusetts Bay Colony comes down with a slight case of the slush. Thirty-three inches on one Halloween night, people! That's all I'm saying. Except maybe that you should look into a marvelous invention called "the snow plow." Yes, I shall miss that New England silliness.

The autumn. Yeah, unfortunately for our Westward, Ho! butts, New England cornered the market on painfully gorgeous Octobers and Novembers long before the 'Niners were even a pyrite glint in their mothers' eyes. I wonder if I'll still feel that urge to buy new notebooks and packs of pens in the Golden State -- somehow it doesn't seem possible without orange and crimson leaves canopying every neighborhood street.

The Scenery

Taking long walks through 02138 in the company of so many dark and darling houses painted like The House of Seven Gables and dreaming myself into all the Charles Adams-like mansions.

The stubbornly brick sidewalks where undergrowing roots bubble the pavement and make knotty pockets.

Looking out of our sixth floor porch windows over the treetops of West Cambridge and seeing the white spires of Harvard redden with the dying sun.

The Friends

Most of all, I will miss our friends. There are so many here... Nate and Genevieve and Sarah and Howard, who may be the only people on this planet who talk about their cats as much as we talk about ours, and who can fully appreciate that a trip to the vet can be both the most fascinating and most traumatic thing to happen all week. After their many hours of cat-sitting and then posing as our landlords so we could adopt Hunca Munca, Nate and Genevieve became the official godparents of Hunca Munca and Poppadum. Most of all, we thank and will always love them for their flowers, support, and apple pie when we took Mica in for her last vet visit. Give lots of extra petsies to Laika the Rotund and Cosmo the Implacable Except When Dr. Mathra's Explaining the Logic of Wearing Reindeer Antlers to Him and tell them how much we'll miss their little faces.

Russ and Suzanne. Russ and Dr. Mathra go back so many years that there is absolutely (BANFF!) no reason to suspect that those years won't continue on and on. They'll still have (BANFF!) their conferences, math, and driving direction minutae to sustain them over the years. However, we (BANFF!) will miss watching Jack grow out of his froggie bath set. (BANFF!)

Deeds, woman, what can I say? Without you, I wouldn't have broken free of the jaws of Perseus Books and I wouldn't have been able to drink vats of "viner schnitzel" or add "doody free," "credders," "older/dumber/sweeter/nastier/fatter/uglier/better/drunker than Jesus," and "freaker" to my vocabulary. I don't think anyone else will ever call me "Stephers," and I can't believe I never made it up to the New Hampshire beach house!

Kristin and Elizabeth, you two were the only good things to come out of that stupid Radcliffe Publishing Course. They didn't succeed in forcing us all to move to New York did they? No! In fact, I'm so of the mind of getting away from Lucky and her witchkraft hair that I'm going to a-whole-nother coast just to escape her gossipy tales and publishing consultants with their scary-ass bare feet!

Then there's the crowd I only met so very recently at various TWoP-Enterprise Cons -- byobkenobi, Mr. byobkenobi, Ens. Ro, siskodax, and gate42. I do wish I was around longer so that we could have gotten a truly Kirkified bash together but maybe we will have to make serious plans to do the Experience in Vegas. After my last Experience, I think I'll let you all throw up on the ride with Dr. Mathra while I just swill Saurian Brandy in Quark's Bar.

The Food

I'm not even going to go into the food I won't be able to have once we start living in a new time zone. The fact that I can now add Nate's ribs to that list of things I won't be able to eat for a good long time depresses me all the more.

The Drink

Oh, my little seven cases of Post Road Pumpkin Ale -- has it really come to this? To have to leave all your cinnamony-nutmegginess behind and be doomed to vainly seek other forms of blissful inebriation and anesthetization? It was only fitting two have the only two cold ones left in our fridge the night before we took off. What really wasn't fitting was the fact that with the heat, the lack of sleep, the cramps, and the nervous stomach, I really wasn't in the mood for the amber elixir. Thank god we're bringing our three last unchilled ones with us to Earthquake Central.

And Rapscallion -- I can't forget you and your wicked ways. Most especially not the way you can get away with the pretentiousness of insisting that your musky brew be poured out into a brandy snifter following a very special procedure. Blessings upon you and may all Creation look down on you as the Premier beer of Massachusetts.

Goodbye, New England.

Now excuse me while I ruin my keyboard with copious amounts of snot and tears.

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