I drove back down to Universe City yesterday to pack up my office. By the time I got down there and ran a few errands and packed a few things, I was feeling pretty lonely and desolate, as one does while trying to leave a place, so I texted S. and then I went over to E. and K.'s house to pick up their old microwave.*
E. and K. turn out to have a cable knit throw that has fleece on the back.** I curled up under it on their couch. The gas fireplace was going, and K. made chai, and we sat and talked, and by the time I left with their old microwave in the back seat of my car, I felt like a new person. Human connection will do that.
Then I went and hung out in S.'s living room with little K. running around dancing and demanding attention. S. made chili cheese burritos. ("Do you eat meat?" she asked, and it was one of the days when I decided abruptly that I do eat meat, and so I did.) I have never failed to leave S.'s presence feeling refreshed and wiser.
But then it was 8 pm and I had barely started packing my office. I was fortunately in a much better emotional place than I had been at 1 pm, so I put my friend D. on notice that I needed her on the other end of the line, and I packed and sorted and threw away. Three hours and two overly-full recycling bins later, I had my car loaded up and I began my drive back to Gone West.
At 11 pm.
State of Happiness is in that lovely (I use this term sarcastically) spring stage where the weather changes every five minutes. By the end of the two hour drive, I had roundly and loudly cursed 1. the other drivers, and 2. the State of Happiness Department of Transportation.
It was raining, you see. Sometimes it was raining lightly and sometimes it was raining hard, and for a state known for its rain, State of Happiness is remarkably badly equipped for rain.
It all goes back to the studded tires. Look, I lived in the Mitten for 12 years. I learned to drive in the Mitten. The Mitten gets a great deal of snow, and we do not use studded tires. We are not allowed to use studded tires. And I understand that there are mountains here, and passes, and studded tires are handy, but they wreck the roads.
I have never encountered louder roads than the roads in State of Happiness. Every road here has troughs where the cars have driven over and over on their studded tires. Those troughs are incredibly loud when you drive in them, but because they are troughs, your car is inevitably pulled into them. Staying outside of them and still in your lane is a constant battle. It's like sleeping in a bed that caves in toward the middle. No matter how many times you pull yourself out, you always end up back there.
Also, because they are troughs, they fill with water. I never really understood hydroplaning until I drove in State of Happiness. If your car falls into the troughs, which it will, you will hydroplane. This is unpleasant at 70 miles an hour at 12:30 am.
Also, other cars cannot seem to grasp the concept that the troughs full of water mean that any car behind you is practically drowned by the water your car kicks up. So they slide right back into your lane in front of you, even though there are no other cars around, blinding you in a white cloud of water. Or they drive into a bigger than usual trough and spray up so much water that you can't even comprehend whether your car is driving straight.
There was cursing. There was loud and angry cursing.
I didn't think I was going to make it home alive.
I did. Barely. With several close calls.
* "Do you guys have a moral objection to a microwave, or do you just not have one?" I asked when I moved in. This is, after all, Gone West, where people do have objections to things like microwaves. I can survive without a microwave, but it is useful for things like warming my sinus rinse water, reheating cold tea, and heating my flax seed pillow.
** I am now searching online for a cable knit throw with fleece on that back that costs less than the $129.99 one at P0ttery B@rn.