Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life Begins at 27

Up until yesterday, when Chris would spend weekends with us, he would sleep the last night at our house, get up at 3:30 a.m. (in military-speak, oh-too-early), and leave between 4:00 and 4:30 so he could be on the job by 7:00. Yesterday, he left at 3:30 in the afternoon, with the last of his belongings in tow. Since these did not fill up the bed of his truck, I was a little nervous about his driving along at 60 mph/100 kmph, but he assured me that he planned to take another, slower route -- turns out Route 4 stretches all the way from Dover, NH right up to Lebanon.

He called at 7:30 yesterday evening to let us know he'd made it in one piece -- took about three hours, as opposed to two -- but that included a detour to the Concord Dept. of Motor Vehicles, to see if he could get a NH license. (They were closed already. He must have gotten there five minutes too late.) He also said the road was full of "frost heaves" -- now, I've never seen frost heaves anywhere else in the country, so I'd better explain this. When the ground freezes at the start of winter, all the moisture in the earth under the road freezes, too. (Duh.) When the January Thaw comes, and all that moisture unfreezes, the roadbed temporarily swells, and the asphalt covering the road develops cracks. Now, when this happens in the spring, eventually the roadbed settles back down, the asphalt goes back down, and the cracks are repaired. But when it happens during the winter, and the roadbed re-freezes, the swellings stay in place, and you get humps in the road that are frozen into place. That is a "frost heave." And Route 4 is full of them. Must have been interesting, with his computer chair and a couple of bookcases rattling around in the back.

His computer, fortunately, was on the seat next to him, resting securely on top of the seat and on top of a duffle bag full of his clothes -- he had so many clothes that the bag came up level with the seat! And he had wrapped it in an afghan I gave him, that I had made back before I was married, so it was secure not only from falling, but from prying eyes. I was a little nervous about his driving along with a computer in the front seat; if he'd been stopped for, say, having a taillight out, a cop could have gotten mighty curious about someone from PA driving along with a computer in the front seat! (He still has his PA license and plates, a situation I hope is remedied in the coming week.) But he made it to Enfield in one piece, and had spent the hour prior to calling us moving all his stuff up the stairs to his new place.

Now all he needs is a bed to sleep on, and an easy chair or two, probably also a couple more bookcases. Being his parents' son, he has a lot of books. On the other hand, with the library two doors down, maybe he won't have to buy so many books now. In any case, his life is finally starting -- life on his own, with no encumbrances from the past, in a job he loves, in an apartment he chose, not the first one he had to grab so he could get out of a bad situation.

Many, many years, Chris!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

On the Move

Yesterday, we helped our son move into his new apartment.

It was a two-hour drive, one way, half of it along an interstate highway with high cross-winds, and skiers blasting past us at warp speed. We did all right until Chris pulled over -- in an area with no shelter -- and started tugging at stuff in the back of his truck. I kept waiting for him to be blown over the railing and off the side of the cliff. (I have a lurid imagination.) Turned out that the lid on one of his totes was about to blow off (how he knew that from the cab, I have no idea), and he wanted us to load it into our car. My husband persuaded him to drive up to the next exit, where we found a pull-out and completed the transfer in a lot more safety than we would have at the top of a mountain.

For that's where we were: In the mountains. Climbing steadily. I had always thought the White Mountains were just in the eastern part of the state, but nope -- they're all over the North Country. And Chris, as we found out, will be living in the middle of them. Enfield, pop. 5,000, is about halfway up one mountain, right on Lake Mascoma, which means nothing at this time of year, but I bet he'll be grateful for that proximity come next summer. And Chris's new apartment is on the second floor of a carriage house, right on Main Street. Two doors down from the library, right across the street from the police station, with a convenience market on the corner and a laundromat down the end of the block. He had a lot of conveniences in Lansdale, but Lansdale wasn't rural. This is.

It took us just half an hour to unpack most of his worldly possessions: a couple of tables, his towels, sheets and blankets, a bookcase, dishes, pots and pans, and a futon mattress that we lent him so he'd have something to sleep on. Pretty meager to start with. But the place gets wonderful sunshine and has good cross-ventilation. All his utilities are included in the rent. It's also a very masculine apartment, with a lot of wood trim and a neutral off-white paint on the walls. He says the landlord will allow him to hang "pictures" -- in Chris's case, this means icons, and he already has the perfect spot picked out for them on his bedroom wall, which is the only part of the apartment that faces east.

Before we left, I sprinkled the place with holy water. He has yet to settle into a parish, though there's one about 25 miles away, and considering that he'll probably visit us at least half the time, I'm not sure how established he will become in that parish, so I'm not sure if the priest will come out and do a house blessing this far into Lent. But that is one of his plans, once he gets a fairly stable schedule -- last week he worked nights, this week he's working days. I hope to heaven he can make that 10-mile drive up the mountain without falling asleep at the wheel on his night shifts.

Meanwhile, it's so good to see him smiling again.