the philadelphia experiment
OK, so we get to Philadelphia at 3 AM. I was asleep from the time we left Corey’s dad’s house in Virginia, and when I finally woke, I saw Philly’s City Hall staring me in the face. It was the first extended bout of sleep I’d had in the U-Haul truck for several days. Three hours of sleep in fact. It took me six days to finally adapt to Corey's cross country 'adventure in moving' .
The day started off pretty unspectacular. Corey still didn’t feel well. He thought it was the flu, but I think it was general tiredness and fatigue. I offered to drive because he just didn’t look too well. There is a certain amount of politicking as to deciding who will drive the next leg. First of all, when you’re at the wheel, you’re in control of where you’re going to stop, and most of all, its just much more interesting than sitting on the passenger side. Funny. I brought along reading material because I thought the ride would be monotonous. You know, light reading like The Brothers Karamazov, Sound and Fury and the Name of the Rose. But the schedule was grueling -- six hours driving each at first, stretching to nine to ten on the all-nighter to get to Atlanta by New Years Eve. By then, every stint in the suicide seat was welcome for sleeptime. When I drove, I often glanced over to see if Corey was awake. More often than not, he was dead asleep. In sum, we never really did much more than drive or sleep, and frankly, the gas stops every two hours helped break up the monotony.
When we pulled up to the Philadelphia apartment, we realized we had to both unload the truck and return in in one day to lessen the chance of getting ripped off. God -- the strength of my legs, arms, back and hands were put to the test that day. Eight hours of constant lifting, carrying and climbing the three flights of stairs to reach Corey’s new walk-up. I would tire and scream for rest, but quickly realized the faster we could unload, the faster I could fall asleep. The problem was that there still wasn’t any gas or electricity, so at night, the apartment would be dark. The only thing working were the radiators because it was 15 degrees outside. I knew I was just going to catch pneumonia.
When we finished unloading, I collapsed in a heap onto the kitchen floor. Looking up at the ceiling, it was the first time I could reflect on the past week of driving from California. Corey had a vested interest in getting his and Darlene’s stuff safe and sound to his new environment. I was but an innocent bystander, yet I was just as responsible for the stuff as he was. To tell the truth, after the first three trips up the stairs, I could have cared less whether or not the mirror was broken, or if the bureau was scratched. I became antagonistic because I was exhausted. I was sullen and ill-tempered. I just didn't feel it was worth all the trouble. For a while that day, I swore I'd never accumulate as much ‘stuff’ as Corey and Darlene had - lugging it around from place to place whenever I had to move. Pack light, stay tight was a better motto. After a moment, though, I thought about what all that stuff meant to them. Not in terms of money, but as the ‘baggage’ we carry around with us all the time -- personal effects, clothing, favorite chairs or furniture -- all our books and papers. Yeah, all this was important. We do accumulate stuff and need to carry it around with us. For no other reason, perhaps, than just to look upon it -- to remember the memory of places and things past. It was a fact I grew much more conscious of as I drove across the country.
back to fountain send a comment june 1996