The Moving series is winding down, but not over! Even though I’ve made it to my new digs, there’s still work to be done. For this installment, I’ll get a bit more personal and take you with me on my trip across four states:
I wake up on my parents’ pull-out couch. My bed has been stripped of its sheets and covered with things that still need to be packed, so I slept downstairs. Infomercials and reruns of The Nanny put me to sleep last night. There’s an expected knot in my stomach. I manage to eat some cereal all the same. Still, I drag my feet on getting in the shower and take care of some things online instead.
Out of the shower, dressed, and ready to tackle the piles that are still not packed. I know that I don’t want to leave before my mom stops home from work around noon. Still, there’s a lot left to pack. I occasionally become overwhelmed and return to the internet. Or the fridge. I eat the last of the string cheese.
My mom comes home to take her wife to a doctor’s appointment. I’m much closer to packed, but nothing has made its way into my car yet. We do goodbyes in the living room — there’s unplanned crying. My mom and stepmom leave for the doctor’s, and I’m left alone with the dog and cats. They’ll be no help at all in packing my car.
Following my own guidelines for packing a car full of stuff, I’ve mostly filled the Oldsmobile when my parents return from the doctor’s. They didn’t expect me to still be there, and neither had I. I load the last few bags of clothes into the car and make a last-minute decision to throw all of my hangers up on top. I’m pleasantly surprised at the fact that I can still see through my back window. I pack the front seat with snacks, my old and decrepit iPod Shuffle, my laptops, a lamp, and a garbage can full of toiletries. My mother shoos me out the door before anyone starts crying again. I test the tire pressure in all four tires before driving off.
I’m surprised when the route my GPS has me on takes me directly past my sister’s house. I call to find out if she’s home for a goodbye, but no answer. I stop by to double-check. The dog barks at me, but no other signs of the family.
My sister calls me back as I drive through an area with beautiful windmills. We talk for a little while, but I have to get back on the road since I’m so far behind schedule. I don’t want to do much of my driving after dark, if I can help it. I spend the next stretch of road trying to watch the windmills and keep my eyes on the road at the same time. Later on, I’ll be disappointed at windmill-less hilltops.
My car stalls in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. Luckily, it’s while going downhill, and I coast for about two miles of highway going 55 miles per hour with my flashers on. When I get to the bottom of the hill, I pull over and try to restart my car. Success! I drive with flashers on to the next exit and call my boyfriend. He glances at a map and lets me know that I’m 20 miles away from anywhere useful. Since my car seems to at least start, it seems my only option is to try and make it the 20 miles to Williamsport.
I spend 20 miles on a construction laden highway cursing my car. I had it checked out just last week, and it got a clean bill of health for this road trip! I also curse Pennsylvania for putting this construction right where I’m driving. The last thing I want to do is drive down a one-lane highway at 55mph, waiting to see if my car will stall, with a long line of cars forming behind me. Thankfully, the truck behind me seems intent on going even slower than I am.
I make it to the next city incident free, but I’m still freaked out. Now begins the long process of searching for a mechanic that’s actually open. I’m suddenly even more thankful for my GPS device (a Garmin Nuvi 350), which has a long list of mechanics in it, with phone numbers, sorted by distance from my current location. Parked in a Subway parking lot, I start calling the numbers one-by-one.
Surprisingly, I get an answer on my 10th phone call. It’s a guy who stayed late at the shop to work on his own car. He must feel really bad for me, because he agrees to take a look at my car anyway. I drive over to him, and he kindly tinkers with my car as I pace the parking lot, sipping my water bottle and texting updates to my mother and boyfriend. I think about what I’ll have to do if he can’t fix it: get a hotel room, stay the night, try to get it fixed in the morning. I mentally calculate how much is left in my Emergency Fund and Getting Established Fund. But moreso, I hate the idea of staying overnight somewhere when nearly every earthly possession of mine is packed in my car.
The kindly mechanic has found a few things that might have been the problem. First, a bad connection to the battery, which was an easy fix. Second, my fuel filter badly needed to be replaced. The total comes to only $50.35 with labor. But he gives me my keys back with the caveat that he can’t know for sure if either of those things are what caused my car to stall. Thankfully, the rest of the trip is through more populated areas. As long as I don’t stall and get rear-ended, my AAA membership should save me if anything more happens. I send out the message that I’m getting back on the road, and I tell my Oldsmobile to behave before I replace it with a Prius.
If you’re ever in Williamsport in need of car repair, try Hooker’s Garage! I can’t thank them enough for taking care of me that night.
I make it to Harrisburg without incident, but I’ve been much more careful than before. I throw on my flashers whenever someone decides to tailgate me, and I avoid driving in front of large trucks that would have trouble stopping. I stick to the speed limit most of the way. I also avoid using cruise control, because I want to feel everything that’s happening under my foot. This is very tiring, and my leg is already starting to cramp up. I stop at a Wendy’s, make a few phone calls, and get back on the road. It’s dark out, which makes me unhappy.
I stop for gas in Maryland. It’s my first gas stop of the whole trip, and I don’t even really need it yet, but I don’t want to push my car much further without a break. As I fill up, I try to calculate the mileage I’ve been getting in my head, but I only come up with “much better than usual.” Later on, when I enter the receipt into my account on GasBuddy.com, I’ll find out that I got 33 miles per gallon during the trip. My car averages at about 22 miles per gallon. I wonder if coasting down a highway with the engine off for two miles helped my mileage at all!
It starts raining in Maryland. I’m really grateful for the extra coat of Rain-X that I put on my windshield the night before.
It’s raining in sheets in Maryland. Thanks! Last time, it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. This time, it’s pouring rain. I can barely see, and most cars are going even slower than I am. Still, some cars pass me at lightning speed. My GPS seems annoyed that I haven’t arrived at her expected arrival time. It keeps telling me I’m only one minute away!
The rain slows down quite a bit once I’m in Virginia, so now I know it really was Maryland’s fault. I make a few wrong turns once I get off the highway, which annoys the GPS even more. “Recalculating!” she calls out, in a sarcastic voice. The rain has stopped when I pull into the parking lot of the apartment.
Boyfriend seems happy to see me, but unhappy to see my car full of stuff that needs to be unpacked. We ignore the stuff in the trunk and begin lugging everything else up the two flights of stairs. We playfully argue about who’s “more tired-er” and I tell him about how Maryland has it out for me.
So, my car survived the remainder of the trip without incident and I made it to my destination in Northern Virginia. When you move, may your trip be less eventful than mine and may there be pretty windmills for you to look at!
This article is a part of a series of posts on moving out on your own.