The Retiree by Jerry Hoem-September 19, 2018

We got the old SUV shaped up and took it to Colorado for a reunion in July. Then we got really confident and took it to Alabama in August for Son-in-law’s installation at his new church in Mobile. Our experience in Alabama had been limited. Earlier we bought gas and maybe a hamburger there, and avoided an accident. This time we had to move a bunch of stuff to their new home. It’s an unfurnished apartment, and they barely beat us down there. They are still awaiting delivery of the meager possessions they moved off the island of St. Lucia. The stuff’s in Miami. Google told us it’s over 1200 miles to Mobile. We left on a Wednesday afternoon, getting a four or five hour start before the serious driving. We had packed a dining room table—five feet, round, heavy, with five legs—sideways in the SUV. Then we put in my Grandpa’s oak side chair and one other fabriccovered chair. Then we put in an old telephone table. And a bed frame. And slats. And a sleeping bag. And enough clothes for us for a couple weeks. We could still see out the back window, barely. Waterloo was our first stop. Google found a business alternative to our highway that cost us a half hour’s delay, but we saw side roads only used by locals, as there seemed not to be any business. Construction and roundabouts confused Google but we saw a neon sign that directed us. The East Indian who spoke English as a second language got us placed in a room with a TV that had sound but no picture. I finally punched the right buttons. We collapsed. Thursday we drove for eleven hours until we couldn’t find a place to eat. The motel had some frozen dinners for the microwave and plastic forks from the breakfast room. It was enough. Friday we reached Mobile. We had a reservation and everything worked. Well, maybe not everything. We could have chosen three later days for our reservation, but there was one house guest who needed to leave early, so we would be able to sleep at the apartment if we helped wash sheets. And the kids would have to leave for school after a night. When we found the apartment, we also found that everyone was out buying mattresses to replace borrowed beds. Once everyone was assembled, I said I would not help carry a fivefoot walnut table up fifteen steps to an apartment, and they agreed that carrying me back down would be too difficult, so I watched. The apartment got its table and a chair or two. Moving anywhere is a chore. Moving from an island to a new city when your belongings are strewn across the continent is more than a chore. Daughter announced that when her stuff arrives from Miami, she ain’t gonna unpack nothin’ until she gets in a house. We’ll see how long it is before she needs some kitchen pots or a hair dryer.

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