Just Go Left

What I Learned from Moving Across the Country

Adventures, Choosing JoyAshtenComment

Four days.

Eight states.

One pesky U-Haul.

Fifty hours of driving.

Yeah, I said fifty. 

And here we are, Californians again. Though there were times I didn't think we'd make it. Like around Albuquerque, New Mexico when I started looking into local real estate because the thought of driving one more mile made me stabby. Or the time my car started making a funny noise around Flagstaff, Arizona and we learned that the shop I took it to get serviced before we left neglected to replace one of my belts and it was cracked (read: about to break). $90 and one angry phone call to the shop in Atlanta later I was thanking my lucky stars we got it checked out.  And don't even get me started on how big the state of Oklahoma is.

But California. Sweet, sweet California with its palm trees, beautiful beaches and plentiful burritos just waiting to be shoved in my face. Man, it's good to be home. 

I wish I could sit here and tell you I handled our move with grace. I wish I could wax poetic about how I laughed off the set-backs we encountered or that I didn't start crying hysterically around hour 16 of what turned out to be a 19 hour driving day. I wish I could tell you I didn't give U-Haul a piece of my mind more than once or that I didn't tell Kyle that if I saw one more gas station in the middle of nowhere I would lose my freaking mind. But all of that would be a lie because there were times I was more monster than human over the course of our four day drive. 

This move was hard, you guys. Reward at the end, yes; a big, huge, happy reward. But it was hard and I hated it. 

You should know that I didn't drive to Atlanta when I moved there in 2010. I shipped a few meager boxes filled with my belongings and booked a one-way plane ticket (bought for me by my Grandma who bought it because she said she believed in me). In 4.5 hours I landed in Atlanta. On one hand, I didn't have a car when I landed there, but I was saved from the long cross-country drive. Kyle, on the other hand, made the trek in 2015 and I carelessly shrugged off his cautionary tales of long stretches of nothing, hours in the car and your-only-option-is-fast-food-or-nothing. Around Arkansas I called him (we were in separate cars: he drove mine with the trailer and I drove his) and screamed "YOU WERE RIGHT, I WAS WRONG AND WE ARE NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!" and he did his "I told you so" laugh that I both love and hate at the same time.

But I learned a lot. Like how many times a person can charge their phone during a 14 hour driving day while listening to Harry Potter on Audible and trying to map directions to the next destination. And also these things:

ONE: I HATE ROAD TRIPS.

There are only a certain number of hours in a car that can be considered humane and 50 is not one of them. Neither is 19. To be fair: the only reason the drive took the insane amount of time it did was because of the damn trailer attached to my car, which prevented us from going over 55 mph before it started swaying back and forth. (Turns out it was also wired incorrectly....don't even get me started.) This fact alone added 3-6 hours to each day. So maybe I hate trailers, not road trips? Either way, we now live roughly 7 hours from Tahoe and that's about as far as I will be driving from now on.

TWO: I DO BETTER ON AFOREMENTIONED ROAD TRIPS WHEN I GET TO HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND GET FED.

Ashten and Rachel.jpg

Our first night was spent in Oxford, Mississippi with Rachel and her husband Andrew. Friends make everything better. Reeling from a five hour day turned into a 10 hour day, fresh off leaving Atlanta behind and Gatsby wondering what the hell was going on, being greeted by happy, familiar, welcoming faces was exactly what we needed.  It also broke up the drive, which I needed, badly. Oh and they fed us the most delicious food from a local Oxford eatery and then Rachel made me blueberry muffins for breakfast. I love her.

THREE: EVERYTHING GOES WRONG WHEN YOU MOVE, BUT WHEN YOU MOVE ACROSS THE COUNTRY? FAHGETTABOUDIT.

I quickly learned that when it comes to moving across the country, even the best laid plans go array. See aforementioned U-Haul that prevented us from going a decent speed. This set-back, though minor when compared to other things that could have gone wrong, ended up being the biggest issue during our drive. We didn't reach our hotel rooms until close to 3 or 4 every morning, which made Kyle REALLY fussy. And a few car issues, despite our best efforts to get our cars serviced and in tip-top-shape before hitting the road, kept us from being able to get on the road at a decent hour every morning. And honestly, I had lost so much control of my life at this point that all I could do was sit back and laugh....then collapse into our hotel bed to do it all again tomorrow.

FOUR: STAND UP FOR YOURSELF

Okay, now the U-Haul story:

U-Haul messed up BIG TIME, you guys. I'm talking Kyle, Gatsby and I could have been seriously injured because of their mistake kind of mess up. They didn't install the wiring for the hitch my trailer was attached to correctly and, long story short, the wires fell on to my exhaust pipe, melting them and shorting our trailer. This happened in traffic in Albuquerque and when roadside assistance came to fix it, said had we not called to get them fixed, the wires would have shorted my car. SHORTED THE ELECTRICAL STUFF IN MY CAR. I'm paraphrasing here for blog's sake, but oh, I was furious. And I called U-Haul immediately because: a) my sanity was close to shorting as well, b) they put my family at risk and c) you have to stand up for yourself when things like this happen and they aren't your fault. 

FIVE: HARRY POTTER REALLY IS THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THE QUESTIONS IN MY HEART

I toyed with the idea of getting an Audible account before hitting the road; thinking that podcasts would be enough to fill my time. At the urging of Kallie from But First, Coffee, I changed my mind and joined Audible and boy I'm glad I did because Harry Potter and I became bffs all over again as I drove across the country. I spoke to Harry more on our trip then anyone else, and it really helped to pass the time. Also, HP throws down some heavy life lessons, at just the right time because around Oklahoma Hagrid said "what's comin' will come, and we'll meet it when it does" and I was like "HOW DOES HE KNOW?!?!!"

PS: I am now calling myself "The Girl Who Lived"...

Sure, I've also learned to perfect the art of driving with my knees, how to compartmentalize negative body image while shoving Taco Bell in my face because it's the only meal I would have that day, and, of course, patience.  I've also never been more thankful for Kyle, who, like a saint, drove the length of the country with that damn trailer and never complained. I have never loved him more than I have in these last 2 weeks. We are all moved in with 90% of our boxes unpacked, eagerly waiting the delivery of our bed frame this week. I am now turning all my attention to finding the best deal on a patio set. 

And also? If you put me back in a car for longer than an hour anytime soon I will probably go full Russell Crowe and throw a phone at you.