In the last seven days I have driven over 1,800 miles, packed one college apartment, visited three friends and had many wonderful hours with my daughter. Tonight is our last night on the road and I can see home just beyond the horizon.
During this week I have had two friends lose a parent. Suzanne Worden’s 98 year old father and Wendie Demuth’s Mother. It is a sobering reminder that time is short, even at 98. Doing this trip with Carter is making memories, or reliving past trip’s highlights. These are the times you talk about in years to come.
Today while we were moving down the NJ turnpike I felt like I had hit the driving wall. Carter and I exited to find a Wawa so I could buy some diet iced tea. Traveling gets me off my iced tea schedule. As I stumbled to the checkout with an armful of bottles Carter commented that I looked like a junkie about to get a fix. Thankfully Carter took over the driving and a I refueled with tea.
One more night on the road and then we are home to see Russ and Shay Shay. Just in time for Russ and my 26th anniversary. Home to our peeps and an unending supply of my perfect tea.
Life may be fleeting, but it is a whole lot better with tea.
It was a long driving day for me and Carter. We got up in Maine and covered the whole of New England on our way home. We talked, told stories and listened to Hamilton all the way to NYC. Our destination for the night was our home away from home at the Farley/Worden’s, the family we choose.
Miraculously we found a parking space in front of their house and were able to unload just our travel suitcases and our Maine four berry pie we brought from Moody’s diner. The Farley family are a pie liking family.
I can’t remember the last time Carter has seen her godmother Suzanne. I was happy to come and get to hug her since her father Clee just passed away last week. Suzanne and I have been friends since 1979 and I have known her father almost as long. He lived a very long, well loved life with five daughters and ten grand children.
I have heard many a story from Clee about selling steel. Being a traveling salesman was something we bonded over. He was a good egg, as long as we didn’t have to talk about the government. I especially appreciate that even after he caught me in a compromising position at Suzanne’s childhood home he never mentioned it again to me. It helped that Suzanne’s mother, Mary loved me and would defend me to the end.
Our trip here will be short since Suzanne has to go bury her father with a memorial service to follow later. It is good for us to have a little time with Steve, Suzanne and Oliver who are the kindest hosts. Being with them is like being home.
Our last day visiting Warren entailed lots of what we regularly do here in Maine. We drove over to Washington, Maine to go to the Washington General Store for lunch, stopped by liberty graphics to see if there were any new T-shirts, played Mexican Dominos, and ate good food. Warren and I worked on an ancient puzzle that hardly looked like the picture on the box and talked about old Walker’s friends while Carter napped.
We got on the subject of Peggy Tregullis and had a hard time recalling some important facts about her. So I messaged the Trigger expert Jennie Hetzler and of course she had all the info right at her finger tips. Both Jennie and I spontaneously sang songs from the trigger song book and reported to each other that we had done it. “T-R-I-Double G-E-R.” Was one of my favorites.
There is nothing better than talking smack about an old teacher who was not particularly your favorite, given her smoker’s stench and lack of a sense of humor. I can look back now and see that her ability to write with both hands at the same time on a chalk board and her odd personality might be hinting at someone who would be diagnosed with a definite difference these days.
After dinner and games Warren showed us some Howard Johnson Postcards from North Carolina. Our favorite was the one from Jacksonville circa 1960, of the pet comfort station. Howard Johnson’s was way ahead of it’s time to have pet friendly motels. If only this idea had caught on I would have not had to sneak my dog Beau into so many hotels when I sold OPEX machines.
After postcards we looked at old menus. Carter loved seeing what a $1.00 cold buy in 1937 at a HoJo’s restaurant. Pineapple juice, roast tenderloin of beef, vegetable, whipped potatoes, rolls, butter, dessert and a drink was a big meal for a buck. I liked that pineapple juice was an appetizer and not a drink.
Oh, the things we learn coming to visit Warren in Maine. We are going to miss him, but it’s time to move on to NYC. Eventually we will get home.
The one thing you can’t control is the weather. So when it was pouring rain in the middle of the night I was certain that Maine would not have good weather today. I was mostly right. This morning is was rainy, foggy and totally COLD. Hello world, It is April, f-Ing 27 and the temperature should not be in the thirties. I did not pack for this weather.
Carter, Warren and I decided to go to Belfast, Maine, a favorite of ours, to stay warm and dry in the car, as our main thing to do today. Belfast was fun. We had seafood for lunch. Visited our favorite bookstore, Bella Books, and went to my Mecca, Fiddlehead artisan, a sewing and art store.
Since I am still on my “not buying anything for myself” year, Carter helped me out by requesting some pillows for her new apartment. We picked out this cool cork fabric and some other linen fabric to make her pillows.
After wearing ourselves out trying to stay warm we headed home to HoJo Central to play some Mexican Dominos with heating pads and blankets wrapped around us. Carter eventually retreated to her bed for a nap with many blankets. Trying to stay warm is exhausting.
Warren made his world famous tuna melts for dinner and we tried to settle in to watch a VHS movie. On the way to Maine Carter and I listened to her favorite podcast, “What you missed in history.” It was a two part show on Fannie Bryce. We told Warren about it so we decided we wanted to watch Funny Girl, which Warren happened to have in his giant VHS library. Sadly the tape was so old that it kept losing the picture and the sound every five seconds. Now for most of the movie we could fill in the dialogue since we all knew it by heart,but when it came time for Barbra to sing “People” we threw in the towel and gave up. I think the tape was actually freezing and wanted the heating pad.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunnier, but no warmer. I just hope all those climate change deniers are freezing their asses off so we can finally all agree that our weather patterns are f***ed.
After not sleeping well in the hotel last night, between coughing all night and the numerous sirens outside, Carter woke up this morning at 5:30 because she had an 8:00 AM final exam. Since I wasn’t sure how the Boston traffic would be she ended up getting to her exam at 7:15. I went back to the hotel to pack the car and was sitting waiting for her when she finished her last exam in record time at 9:30. We felt like we had already had a full day by the time we left Boston to drive to Maine.
Rather than go right home where Carter could have that awkward reentry into childhood home life after living the life of self sufficient college student, we are taking a little trip to wind down. Although I have been able to come to Maine every summer, Carter has not been able to visit for the last five years. Our friend Warren generously allows us to invade his home almost whenever we say the word.
Usually I come in the cool of Maine summer when it is horribly hot in Durham. Last fall I came after dropping Carter off at college, so coming back at pick up is a good bookend. September was perfect. Still warm enough to enjoy the front porch. April seems like Durham winter.
Carter and I drove up and stopped in Portland to go to our favorite DuckFat for fries, balanced out with salads. It was rainy and the bitter kind of cold that chills you to the bone. We got to Warren’s by 2:00. Was this still the same day of Carter’s last exam?
As fast as we got here we were all piled back in the car to go antiquing and run an errand. Turns out Carter is finally interested in “old stuff.” Apparently her generation sees it as “environmentally friendly,” which it is, but it means there is hope for antiques.
At the Rockland Marketplace where Warren has a booth of things for Sale Carter found many things I had to talk her out of. The excitement of furnishing her new apartment is September has her looking at art and old boxes that can be end tables. She found a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes sign that she had to have since she is a Kellogg. The nice ladies working the desk gave her a deal since she is Warren’s friend.
After our outing we went home to Warren’s and made a yummy chicken Francese dinner with spring asparagus. The sun set making the cold even colder. We played Mexican Dominos where everyone won at least one game and hit the wall of exhaustion by 9:30. A lot was packed in this one day.
Congratulations to Carter for a successful year at school. The time is flying by and I am happy to get to have these little trips with her. Just like when she was in lower school on the drives to and from school, there is nothing like the conversations you have in the car. Glad we still have that.
For now it is time to bed with the five blankets I have to counteract Maine spring. Wish Russ was here too, he deserves a little Maine and Carter time with me too. Soon.
Twelve boxes and three blanket wrapped body bag sized parcels were picked up this morning from Carter’s room by the storage guys. We cleaned her apartment. Went to lunch and toasted her last dorm.
Carter had exam review and I hung around waiting to pick her up. As far as this move is concerned all the hard work is in the rear view mirror. Carter has her last exam at 8:00AM tomorrow, so today she said her good byes to her friends.
We took two of her best friends, Jada and Susanna to dinner at Eataly. It was fun for me to put faces with the names of the girls Carter had come to depend on. After dinner they had long hugs goodbye. Jada is off to do her co-op in Hawaii in July so Carter won’t see her until next January. Such is the life at Northeastern.
There is a lot of movement of kids between jobs and school, but it is easier to stay in touch with technology. Carter has had a fabulous year of growth and it makes me happy to see how much she has grown here. That being said, I will not miss packing and moving. We still have in packing in September, but the set up of the new place is so much more fun than the take down of the old.
Last year Carter packed herself and dealt with Storage Squad and flew home alone. Of course she only had one semester’s worth of stuff in a regular dorm room. This year is a little different. Carter has lived in a campus apartment this year. It was great to have her own kitchen and bathroom with her roommate. Her good roommate Olivia, who Carter lived with last year and last semester spent this past semester on Co-op London. Carter knew that was going to happen so she bought everything for the kitchen.
The rule here is you have to move out of your dorm within 24 hours of your last exam. Except if you have the last exam of the year, then you have to be out in six hours. Wouldn’t it figure Carter has the last exam. How can anyone study for exams, take them, pack and move out all at the same time? This being the situation I volunteered to come up and help her pack for Storage Squad and let Carter come stay at a hotel with me for her last two nights. This is a good excuse for a little road trip with Carter.
I drove into Boston first thing in the morning. Storage squad is coming tomorrow morning so we needed to pack everything up today. Carter figured it would take all day. Last year Carter stores five or six boxes. This year it is 13 boxes and three large items, like her rolling desk chair and metal shoe racks, wrapped in blankets.
I was the appointed taker-aparter of all the ikea like furniture. It was not as hard a job as Carter thought it would be. After dismantling three items I was moved to packing up the kitchen. At the beginning of the year I had told Carter I was only buying her one set of cookware and I was very impressed with the condition and cleanliness of it nine months later. She took my warning to heart.
We took a lunch break of avocado toast and finished up most of the packing by 2:30. Carter has an appointment and I went to the hotel to check in. I went back at 6:30 we packed Carter’s suitcases into the car and went to Wagamama for dinner. Tomorrow is the final cleaning while waiting for the box pick up. The worst is behind us.