I rolled into Chicago with a cooler of crab salad, a car full of cat poop and the pitiful tear-streaked look of defeat.
It was not how I imagined my grand arrival.
No. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be magical. A sappy, happy-tears filled trip with my parents I’d never forget. There was supposed to be laughing. And bonding. And champagne. And by God, at some point, there was supposed to be Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’.”
Instead, the tone was unmistakably set when James pooped himself 30 minutes into the drive.
To say the $60+ I’d spent on cat-calming oils was a waste is an understatement. Joan was losing fur at a rapid pace, so I didn’t move, eat or drink the entire trip for fear of disturbing her. James’s mess was impossible to remove from his crate without risking his escape, so it traveled the remaining 280 miles with us. I was stressed to tears about my cats. And my mom was stressed to tears about me stressing to tears about my cats.
In short, the ride was bad. But the goodbye was much worse. As we were driving to dinner (my mom and I in my car, my dad behind us in the truck), we learned that my parents’ Air B&B fell through. And so instead of going to dinner, we were forced to pull over and say our goodbyes from the side of the road.
I’ll paint the scene:
“Just go, just leave!” I wailed from the front seat of my car.
“I can’t leave you like this. Joey, please! Eat this sandwich!” My mom begged, pushing a peanut butter and butter sandwich into my hands.
“I don’t. I can’t. Not now. Not like this.”
It went on like this for a few minutes. Me, wailing incoherently. My mom, shoving the remaining car snacks she’d packed (crab salad and deviled eggs) into my arms.
The most embarrassing part was that a few weeks ago, I was excited at the thought of starting over. Of moving to the city with nothing but my cats and a pending Medicaid application. I was uncharacteristically calm in the days leading up to the move. I’d laugh when people asked me about the new job I didn’t have, or the money I hadn’t saved.
I guess it was funny until it was real.
But I suspect homesickness is to be expected. Even from cold, dead-hearted folks like me. So, I’m taking it day by day. And every day gets better.
Plus, I’m now living with two of my dearest friends and, most important, a third cat.