The Joys of Moving Across Country When You’re Pregnant

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Well, we did it.We put all of our stuff into boxes, hired burly man to put them in a giant truck, stuffed our most valuable (mismatched socks, my mother’s ashes) stuff into our Rav 4 and waved goodbye to our life in San Rafael California, where the sun shines all the time, and the deer are so friendly that we frequently found them rummaging through our refrigerator when they had the munchies.Packing, for me, after several months of doing it, was a source of almost unspeakable horror.the more I packed, and more than was to pack, one pile would disappear and 2 more would rear their heads.It was like a dream you have where you’re running as hard as you can, but you’re not getting any closer to the house where those men are molesting your girlfriend, or whatever particular thing you run towards in your dreams.

Several times I just broke down completely, weeping like a hurricane as I tried to decide whether to throw away some postcard my mother sent me 35 years ago, or some fab picture of some babe I boffed in 1979.All the fevered letters, the sweet notes, passionate poems, the broken hearts on both sides of the Highway of Love.It just plumb wore me out sifting through all the shit of my life and figure out the difference between junk and my stuff, what was trash and what was treasure.And of course I turned 50 on June 2.Half a century.If I live to be a hundred it’s already half over.And of course we were writing two books under a ridiculously preposterous deadline.And of course my lovely and talented wife was pregnant.All evidence points toward the fact that it is my child dancing in her womb, only time will tell.So there’s that.

But the results of all these churning tributaries of life feeding into one giant waterfall was that I lost part of my mind, and I’m just now getting it back.My hands have been aching.Ever since the move.While they were sore before that, but they really started aching during the move.A combination of deep sharp pain, slow strangulating pain.Throbbing burning pain, and the psychological pain that constant pain inflicts.The slightest difficulty became a source of intense irritation which flamed into rage so quickly it gave me the bends.Tracking down and talking to computer technicians, phone company lackeys, insurance brokers, tax record officials, it was all just beyond me.

Luckily, I had a lot of help, mostly from my lovely and talented wife, who as I said was pregnant, and continues to be so.Also, Judy, my moms widow, she packed about 17,000 boxes, all by herself.She’s from Minnesota, so she has that good Midwestern work ethic, and she was one box-packing fool.She was like a cartoon character, you stand there and all watching her arms and hands whirring all-around, and suddenly another box was packed and she was taping it shut, easy peasy, Bob’s your uncle.And mind you, I started collecting boxes and packing several months before the move.So it’s not like I was unprepared.

But the more I packed, the more my mental health deteriorated, until finally I was blinded by the light, and suddenly a migraine had somehow slithered like a computer virus into the mainframe of my brain.Apparently when you have a migraine it’s basically just everything tightening up and compressing.It feels like my head is in a giant vise being tightened by a circus strongman with an anger management problem.Then I start to see these lights in the corner of my eyes, only when you look right at them, they go away, so you’re not really sure if you’re actually seeing the lights, or if it’s just some floater that you see in the corner of your eye sometimes.But then I get this kind of disorientated, off kilter, askew feeling.It’s not so overpowering that you can’t carry on a conversation or brush your teeth or pack a box, but there’s definitely something wrong.Then I really really really see the lights in the corners of my eyes, and that’s when I know I’ve arrived in Migraine City, where excruciating agony awaits everyone who steps off that train.It used to be at this point in the migraine, I would get a knee buckling, chest heaving, jaw tightening pain started in the middle of my brain and worked its way out seismically.

However, since I started working with Dr. Marty Rossman, and his amazing creative visualization techniques, I am able to get through the whole thing now with basically no pain at all.Here’s what I’d do.I get myself in a cool very dark place, somewhere soft I can lay down and be very peaceful.I imagine a very happy moment from my past: a beach in Hawaii where wild horses cavorted on a hill 200 yards away, and the warm warm ocean broke in gentle waves.In.Out.In.Out.And I time the waves with my breath.In.Out.In.Out.Then starting at the soles of my feet, I breathe cool blue soothing light into my body, moving up little by little, toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, and usually by the time I get to my poor wracked brain, I am asleep, and usually I sleep for a couple of hours.When I wake up and I’m groggy and it’s hard for me to put words together, and I’m logey, there’s tapioca pudding where sharp thoughts should be.So that’s what packing reduced me to: a useless, incoherent, blithering idiot.But somehow I got by with a little help from my friends.Then all I had to do was drive across the United States of America.With my lovely and talented wife getting more pregnant by the day, furiously trying to finish writing these books, and wrap our minds around the fact that very very very very soon we were going to be new homeowners, new parents, and new New Jersey-ites.

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America is huge.And tilted.All the nuts and flakes eventually roll to California.And what you realize as soon as you leave California, is that you were one of the nuts and flakes.When you get into Nevada, and Wyoming, it’s almost incomprehensible how much land there is no one living there.Land as far as the eye can see.And then some.We drove and we drove and we drove.Then we drove and we drove and we drove.It was actually really fun to just get to talk with each other, without the phone always ringing, and some emergency or other to have to face down.And it was an excellent way to write a book.I would drive, and my lovely and talented wife would type with the laptop in, of all places, her lap. I think our child is either going to be madly in love with books, or will hate them with a fiery passion.

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Cheyenne, Wyoming is not nearly as exciting as you think it would be.Basically it seems like a rundown, time-worn western town where everyone seems a little too anxious to talk to someone who’s not from there.We went into a pawn shop and the guy behind the counter with more nose hairs than teeth roped us into a conversation that was literally about the weather.And he would not let us go.We tried to extricate ourselves over and over again, to no avail.He did everything but physically restrain us from leaving his store.It took some classic misdirection involving the unborn within my lovely and talented wife’s belly to get us the hell out of there.But you can get a really good steak in Cheyenne, Wyoming.Omaha is also a very good town for getting a steak.We were going to get married on the trip across the country.Mostly for insurance purposes.Seriously.That’s what we’ve come to as a culture.Got to get married so you can get health insurance.Plus we thought it would be fun to get married while my lovely and talented wife looked so gosh darn pregnant.So we asked about getting married in Salt Lake City.We figured, it must be very easy to get married there, since men historically had so many wives in Salt Lake City.No, turns out it’s actually quite difficult to get married in Salt Lake City.Our waiter said he thought it was because they were trying to discourage polygamy.We had a very nice gay Mormon waiter in Salt Lake City.And I wondered what it must be like to be a gay Mormon in Salt Lake City.And I thought about Matthew Shepard and how those homophobes crucified him.

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The open spaces of the planes and prairies are very peaceful and restful.The people we saw there seemed very well fed and friendlier, more interested in other people than folks on either coast.Everyone wanted to know when the baby was due, if it was a boy or girl, what name we picked out.Miles and miles and miles of rows and rows and rows of corn and beans and wheat.There’s so much food and so much space, and you wonder, How is anyone hungry?How is it that people don’t have a place to live?

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Chicago is a very cool town.There’s all this amazing stuff going on, blues festivals and world-class theater and food that makes you happy to be alive.We treated ourselves in Chicago, took a day off, and did some chillin.We decided to go to the Ritz, and have their brunch.We had done that in Atlanta when we were on our book tour, and it was so decadent and disgusting and fun.In Atlanta there were three rooms with stations of food in them: meats of every kind and breads of every kind and salads of every kind and the even had a chocolate fountain.A chocolate fountain!Nothing says fun to me like a chocolate fountain.So we walked in about two o’clock to the Chicago Ritz, pregnant and roadburned.They did have a lot of stuff and the stuff was good, don’t get me wrong.But they only had a few kinds of bread, a few kinds of meat, maybe a quarter of the stuff that was in the Atlanta Ritz: certainly no chocolate fountain. We were sitting next to two Uber Alpha males.They were in their late 40s even on a Sunday they were in their killer suits, and tasselly shoes. I always feel like scruffy lad next one of these Alpha Males. Like they are Men.And I am a boy.So the one guy turns to the other and says, “I don’t want to hear about how your kids are sick, or your wife has cancer, or your car needs new tires, I don’t give a shit.You either put up the numbers or you don’t.If you have the numbers, everything else works itself out.If you don’t have the numbers, I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit.”

Either I forgot how disgusting, despicable, and deplorable New York City is, or I’ve completely changed since I moved in away from here in 1993.Or New York City has changed since then.Because it really sucks now.It’s abusively loud, it’s ridiculously expensive, would it is becoming one huge super Mall, where they’re trying to drive out all artists, and the artisans, and regular people who aren’t billionaires.Plus, it smells like sour kiss and old man’s balls.Don’t ask how I know what old man balls smell like, trust me you don’t want to know.Here are some of the highlights from my first week in New York City.

·I got two moving violations for ridiculous shift I didn’t even do

·I got three parking tickets

·the window of my car was smashed in, and all the license and registration material was stolen, clearly an attempt to steal my identity

·my wallet with my drivers license is, the keys to my motorcycle, and hundreds of dollars was stolen

·a cab driver tried to run me over while I was rollerskating on 6th Ave

And it was so hot and humid and muggy and some stinky.I really began to think that it was all a big mistake, I was yearning for California so bad to hurt.We moved from apartment to apartment, staying with our kind friends, trying not to wear out are welcome.We were urban Bedouins.Which is not easy when, as a couple, you are getting more pregnant every day.We did finally finish our books though.Except for a few dribs and drabs, Be Artists In the Me, and The Writer In Me are done and dusted, put to bed.Plus we had a really fun party, where people gave us a lot of stuff for the new baby.Much of which I could not readily identify.It was really great to see people I hadn’t seen in so long.And we went to see a show called Spring A weakening.It’s really a great piece of work.It’s all about repressed sexuality and adolescents.Something which I have been studying, formally and informally for many years, and in fact the subject of my next book, which will be a ghost story about a Shaker baby skeleton aerie in a wall at a boarding school.John Gallagher Jr., who won a Tony for his work in the show, was unfucking believable, just electric.And we saw a fantastic movie called Once, and evolution in the musical, Irish, incredibly real, simple and moving.And I got to play a lot of soccer, with people from all over the world.So that was cool.

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We took control of our house on August 1.The people we bought it from had lived here for 50 years.And they have done basically nothing to improve the house for 49 of those years.The electricity was installed by Thomas Alva Edison.The entire basement was constructed from asbestos.So on August 2, asbestosis removers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, architects, interior designers and decorators, colorists, general contractors, carpenters, and tradesmen of every ilk swarmed through our new home, painting, plumbing, electricing, madly removing asbestos.And then it was a crazy — toward the finish line: getting everything done before our stuff arrived in and/or the baby did.There was much sanding of many floors, paint was ordered and applied to walls, sinks were bought and installed, electrical boxes mounted on the walls, telephone and cable hard wired into this beautiful old house.It really looked for a moment what our stuff is going to arrive before the stain on the floors was dry.I kept having this image in my head of the movers tromping in with our stuff, and traipsing staying throughout every square inch of our house.But somehow, miraculously, almost everything was done by the time our stuff was due to arrive on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m..By about noon on Monday, we looked at each other and had the same thought.Where are the movers with our stuff?Because they certainly weren’t here at our house.So we called up the moving company.Turns out the driver was in Maryland, or Memphis, or Minneapolis.I can’t remember, someplace that started with an M. but they certainly weren’t in Montclair were our house was.And is.It was definitely a case of movus interruptus.So we had to do it all over again the next day.But this time, our stuff came.It was amazing how much of it just seemed like junk to me.I would open a box and think, Oh my God!Did I actually pay to have this moved?What is this?Is this mine?Oh my God!Two large movers, and one short Hispanic man bugged all of our stuff from the truck into the house.After about an hour, but the short Hispanic man started grumbling in Spanish, disgruntled and dismayed.As he walked up the narrow, steep stairs with another heavy boxes, he kept moaning No Mas.This became his nickname around our house: No Mas.It took them eight hours to haul all of our shit into our house, but finally it was done.We were in.Hallelujah!

Many said we were insane to try and move across country while Arielle was pregnant.Into a house that was basically in shambles.But we did it.And we are both very very happy in our new home.And the baby is due today.

After having been through this ordeal, I do have one piece of advice.If anyone out there is thinking of moving:

JUST SAY NO!!!

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About David Sterry

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, book editor, activist, and book doctor. His first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller, and has been translated into 10 languages. “As laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing, what more could you ask for?” – The Irish Times.
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