Homeward Bound?

Dateline: Wytheville, Va.  Halfway between home (old) and home (new).

Yesterday we relaxed.  With 15 inches of snow on the ground, it was good to wake up in a hotel bed and hear the sound of plows clearing the parking lot.  Over omelets cooked by someone else, we chortled at not having to dig out the cars or shovel the sidewalk in front of the house.  Ha!  Talk about timing.

After spending three nights in a hotel room with cats, I can confirm that they are, indeed, nocturnal creatures.  At 2:30 I arose to get some water and found them darting about like eels on the ocean floor.

Having skipped housekeeping on Thursday, we decided to allow it on Friday while we enjoyed our omelets-cooked-by-somebody-else.  We scooted the cats into their cage and asked the maid to freshen the room.  We came back to an overturned litter box, upset water dish, and two very distraught cats.  We unlatched the cage to mop up and the two cats dashed under the bed for the next six hours.

Lifelongnewyorker seriously wanted to take advantage of the hotel’s spa and went as far as to grab a menu of services.  But there was some work to do, the papers to be read, and a final visit to Mr. NYer’s Dad, who is still in the nursing home but has improved markedly.

Mr. NYer’s retirement party turned into a moveable feast.  Morning news was that the restaurant at which it was scheduled was closed by snow and the party canceled.  By late afternoon, word was out for the fearless to join us at the restaurant at the hotel.  Unbeknownst to Mr. NYer, I conspired with the Abandoned One to get him there as a surprise.

So a scaled-back retirement dinner went on despite the snowstorm, with the surprise appearance by the Abandoned One, and the added boon of not having to drive.  Lifelongnewyorker got a last taste of the Staten Island-small-world-phenomena by running into several former newspaper colleagues.

The first was Ms. Realestatebeat, whose only daughter was about three years old when Lifelongnewyorker worked in the newsroom.  Ms. Realestatebeat, whose little girl is now 15 and who has added a 15-month old caboose baby to her family, took the latest buyout — a wise choice to anyone young enough to consider a career other than print journalism.   At the tender age of 40, she told me she worried about reestablishing herself in a new career.  It was good to be able to tell her that I didn’t start my “new” — i.e. non-teaching career — until I was 45 years old.  Having changed jobs three times since then, I was able to reassure her that life is full of possibilities.

After chatting for awhile, I headed to the ladies room via the bar, and ran into The Editor, my former boss at the paper.  “You’re supposed to be in Alabama,” he bellowed.

I sat and described the last five days in four-part harmony, with 8-by-10 glossies with a paragraph on the back of each one … well, I told the tale.  And we talked about the move, the new job, why his daughter decided not to look at my house (the stairs scared her), the state of print journalism, people we both knew, and, of course, we shared some stories from the past.  I was glad to run into him — he’s mercurial, to say the least — but he gave me the job that allowed me to discover what I was capable of, and I am grateful for that.  Plus I got to work in a newsroom, which is a great experience.

This morning we again herded the cats into the cage in preparation for a long day’s driving.  The vet prescribed a sedative for the Lunatic, suggesting we try a half a pill and see if he needs more.  We’re up to a full pill for him and find that it has a minimal effect:  it turns him into a normal cat.  The Mush has been more vocal, in a plaintive and heart-rending way, whenever we cage him, so we decided to pill him as well.  Given that he’s nearly twice the weight of the Lunatic, we gave him a full pill, too.

Every time we stopped for gas, a bottle of water or a bathroom break, we lifted the rear gate to check on the cats.  They blinked warily and huddled.  After nine hours on the road, we stopped here in southern Virginia, took them into the room, and un-crated them.  The Mush staggered about, over-sedated, and stumbled on several attempts to jump atop low furniture.

The Lunatic operated at about half warp-speed, so the pills still worked for him, too.

Another long haul tomorrow, and home to Alabama.  And that seems very strange.

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