Abandon House

June 25, 2005

A year ago this weekend (June 26th, to be exact) Michele and I abandoned our house in Illinois to move to Overland Park. On Friday afternoon we rented a 14 foot U-Haul truck for the one-way trip to Kansas. Friday evening was spent gathering those items we wanted for the two weeks before the movers would arrive with the rest of our belongings. I was up until well past midnight tearing down our computers and packing them for the journey.

Saturday was in a word brutal. Emotionally we were spent from our months long fight to stay in Springfield, to keep our house and pool, to not have to move again. Last minute phone calls to two separate consulting firms that had potential area jobs failed to rescue us from our fate. In order to ensure we had an apartment to move into Michele had to leave several hours before me - the apartment office closed at 5:00 and she had to make the 375 mile drive before then. Taz, our youngest cat, rode with her in the car. We were both bawling by the time she left.

I spent the final hours in my house furiously packing the items I knew we would want and need in the apartment. Nekko, the older cat, mewed constantly from the confines of her carrier. In the past she has not traveled well and I was worried about needing to get her a shot to ease her through the trip. By noon I was on the way to the dump with the last of the garbage, and to the cable company to turn in their equipment. Before I had traveled two miles Nekko was producing mucus and retching. After dropping off the cable boxes I went to the vet and they gave her a couple of pills that calmed my poor upset kitty.

With only one cell phone there was no way I could contact Michele or know what she was experiencing. I set off for Kansas almost three hours after she had left in a truck that whistled loudly above 45 mph. By six that evening I had made it to Overland Park, only to be halted by construction delays on the interstate bypass. I had called the rental office and left a message for Michele to let her know approximately when I would arrive.

I was never so happy as when I saw her again and knew she was okay, that the separate part of our ordeal was over. We spent the evening putting together our bed and setting up our computers. Sunday morning we ventured out for our first breakfast as Kansas residents. The rest of that day was spent in an exhausted haze putting the kitchen together, and emptying the truck for its return to U-Haul.

Thanks to "state trait" memory I have managed to forget much of the pain, emotional and physical, of that weekend. It is almost as if those two and a half days happened to someone else, not me. Ten days later our movers arrived with the remaining four tons (yes 8,000 pounds) of our stuff. The apartment was filled to the brim with furniture and boxes, our tiny garage stall was stuffed, and our storage locker was full. By August we had rented a second locker and filled it to capacity as well.

Over the past year we had adapted to apartment living again. It is tolerable if not livable. Over Christmas, when we returned to central Illinois to see my family, we drove within three miles of the Pawnee house; we didn't stop to look. Even today, a year after I last saw it I have no desire to see it again. Especially now that it has been sold. That house was our first true home together, a place where we felt comfortable, a place where we felt belonging.

Today I find my belonging with Michele. The physical place we inhabit isn't nearly as important has sharing that space with her, and with my two cats. I know that we will own a house again. I just hope that we can move in a far less stressful way to that place.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.