Talk about a whirlwind. Two weeks after we’d put the farm on the market, we had a contract in hand for the full asking price. Less than a month later, as the moving van company was emptying our house, John headed down the driveway for the last time.
Behind the truck he pulled our Prius, both vehicles packed to the brim and facing a long journey ahead.
I stayed behind and watched as the interior of our home of 14-1/2 years was transformed from this,
It was more than a little disconcerting. St. Joseph and his Altoids agreed, looking a tad discombobulated themselves after having been freed from the kitchen drawer where I’d kept them tucked away throughout the various inspections and land surveys, just to be safe.
I couldn’t concern myself with St. Joe’s state of mind, however. I had someone else to worry about, someone who had lived in that house nearly his entire life and not only had rarely traveled in a vehicle of any sort, but whose heart generally filled with fear at the prospect of venturing much farther than the front porch step, even on foot.
Even on four of them.
And he and I had tickets to fly to Seattle the following afternoon.
Several days earlier, John and I made a practice run at sneaking a kitty downer into Pablo the cat’s cooked chicken treat, an experiment that went swimmingly. Although I was nervous the morning of the real thing, I felt like I’d be able to recreate the deception once again. Pablo thought otherwise and detected the pill immediately. After multiple attempts — and after ultimately being left with only spitty bits and pieces of a formerly intact pill — I finally was able to force the remnants down his throat, sans chicken, despite some very vocal objections.
Stuffing him into the travel bag a couple hours later wasn’t pleasant, and he did raise a little ruckus as Dana and Alison drove us to the airport, but once inside the terminal it appeared the pill pieces had done their job. Pablo was awake yet calm inside his tiny carrier, where he acted as my second item of carry-on luggage.
When John and I travel together, we always take a picture of each other in the airport. It’s a matter of superstition for us, like the old tattered red travel bag I insist on carrying when we fly. Were we to forget that bag, or neglect the photos, the chances of arriving safely at our destination would surely decrease exponentially. The day of Pablo’s and my flight to Seattle, I did indeed have the red bag so the only missing link was the mutual photos. As we sat in the waiting area for our gate, I took care of my end of the deal.
I figured in this instance, it would have to suffice. Pablo was far too drugged up to snap my picture, as well.
Once on the plane, Pablo mostly traveled like a champ. I had to cram him under the seat in front of me, of course, where he dozed peacefully the first 3-1/4 hours of the 4 hour flight. Those final 45 minutes were no picnic, though. Pablo decided he’d had enough of that tiny carrier and started yelling and clawing at the sides. I put him on my lap and allowed him to stick his head out of the bag where I could try to talk some sense into him, yet he wasn’t falling for it. Having no idea at the time how close we were to landing, I began to panic too.
Thank heavens for enough frequent flyer miles for First Class seating. Upon seeing a kitty in distress, one of the attendants whispered in my ear for Pablo and me to follow her up to the galley where she closed the curtain so I could sit on the floor and take him out of that godforsaken bag. After holding him on my lap for a while, he settled back down.
As a friend used to say, there’s no class like First Class.
That Saturday night, Pablo and I stayed at the Best Western near SeaTac Airport. We’d arrived too late to drive to Port Townsend and I feared another panic attack overnight — whether by Pablo or me was anyone’s guess — which happily didn’t occur. Pablo was quiet as a mouse all night long. (Please don’t tell him I used that analogy.)
We pulled into downtown Port Townsend around noon Sunday. After parking the car along the street and double-checking on Pablo inside his carrier on the passenger seat, I met with the real estate agent to pick up the keys to our rental house. Port Townsend’s Victorian Festival was going on that weekend, and as I was walking back to the car I noticed a woman dressed from head to toe in garb befitting that era. She was heading straight towards me, grinning from ear to ear.
Any other day I would have welcomed a stranger’s smile — even a stranger pretending to live in a different century — but after the emotionally-draining ordeal of pulling up stakes and flying with a cat in tow to a place I’d only once briefly visited, my first thought was, “Please leave me alone.” Besides, Pablo was waiting in the car. All I wanted to do was let the poor little guy out of that bag.
Instead, I smiled back at her as she asked me if I’d like a $5 gift certificate for the Quimper Mercantile. “Sure, thanks,” I replied, and hurried back to my cat.
Once at the rental house, I discovered the bed the owner left for us had no linens or blankets on it — and John wouldn’t be arriving with our bedding until late the next day.
There are no big box stores in charming Port Townsend. The nearest Target or Bed Bath & Beyond is at least 50 minutes away, and I simply couldn’t muster the wherewithal to make that trip. I pulled the gift certificate out of my pocket and headed to the Mercantile instead, where I found a perfectly good sleeping bag. For $5 off list price to boot, thanks to my Victorian coupon.
Pablo and I slept like babies that night, cuddled inside the sleeping bag atop a bare bed. John arrived Monday, right on schedule, after which the bag was tossed to the floor in favor of real sheets and blankets. Pablo couldn’t have been more pleased.
I think we’re all going to like it here.