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My Move across the Country: A Diary of Letting Go – Donna Quesada

by Donna Quesada: I sat on the wooden deck outside my kitchen, with Marcel on my lap.

Marcel & Donna-awakenI could hear Tuki scrabbling about in the dry leaves behind us. I was acutely aware that this ordinary moment would soon just be a memory.

Later that day, I took my two little terriers to our special spot in the marina… the “babiesbeach,” where we went every day during the pandemic. They never tell me anything there about dogs not being allowed.

It felt bittersweet… Marcel was having a slow day, almost as if he sensed that this may be his last visit here. But I’m probably just projecting. Hes nearly 15 now, and he’s got good days and bad days.

Still spry at 13, Tuki rolled on his back in the sand, trying to rub himself on something stinky and gross, as usual. In the distance, a group of paddle boarders practice dropping down and then hopping back up again. The instructor yells out commands… One fluid motion! Knees first! My thoughts took me back to how quiet it was here during the pandemic. We had the whole marina to ourselves… just us three.

It was now the countdown to the big move. Marcel’s interests are down to the basics now… doesn’t have much interest, anymore in the old dog stuff, like toys or “windies”—my word for when dogs stick their head out the car window. But he still hangs around the table at meal time. Thank God. The simple routines of eating, sleeping and laying in the sun are his world. How is he going to do on a 29 hour drive? I feel guilty for uprooting him.

Maybe Im just too damn nostalgic. Its me he needs, I told myself… Not the routines.

It is I who need to let go. My spirit sensed the change that was coming several months ago, when I started going through drawers and hauling away bag after bag of clothes. It felt liberating.

After 22 years in this house, there was a good number of artifacts from the different chapters of my life, as well as my son’s life. I went through boxes of school work from when he was a kid, files containing old violin lesson books and old cards and letters. As a staunch minimalist, he wouldn’t care about any of it.

Then there was my own stuff… from old dancing costumes to tarot cards. It was like looking through Grandma’s attic. Only it was my own house, and I had to make decisions. Either it stays or it goes.

Even before the letting go is the getting real. I’m not going to wear those. I don’t have the same interests anymore. I don’t have the same life. I experienced the deeper cleansing that goes along with getting rid of material things. Like sweeping away dust… something beyond the dust gets eliminated. It’s a total renewal of the spirit.

Two Months Before the Move

My umpteenth trip to the Goodwill. That shirt I was holding onto for just the right occasion… The big occasion is never coming! Into the bag it goes. I quickly photograph the stuff that’s too good for the Goodwill. I list everything on eBay or Marketplace… I give jewelry to friends… Im not schlepping all this to the new house!

One Month Before

Am I a bad person? I am suddenly overcome with guilt… I’m leaving town when my family is going through a challenge. But I know that I have my own destiny and cliché of all clichés, life is short. Im going to open my eyes one morning and find that I’m 80 years old. Or, I could be dead next year. It is up to me to say Yes! to this part of my journey, while I am able-bodied, and still with some level of exuberance.

Anyway, I continue, in my internal dialogue…it is not the way… to put one’s life on hold in order to do what you imagine others may want from you. People who truly love you would never place expectations or personal agendas on you. They would want you to live your life and explore your own journey. Let this go… this is what it means when it is said to let go of what no longer serves you. Guilt is not a productive emotion. It’s a head trip.

Two Weeks Before

Nostalgia comes over me again. My adorable sailor blue house… and I just had it repainted… what if the new people tear it all down? And all of my wooden boats… this whole thing is just too overwhelming. Virgo that I am, I act swiftly. I put them all into a big box and walk them down to my neighbor, who is thrilled to have them. Gone. That was easy!

10 Days Before

I am now talking to my baby lemon tree… I planted it myself. It hasnt even given its first lemon yet, but it has blossoms. Will the new buyers care? Will they water you? Oh my God, I’m crying over the tree and nothing has even happened yet. I feel an acute sense of stewardship. Entire forests burn, I tell myself. I can’t stand to think of it, but it gives perspective. I can’t control or protect everything.

Nine Days Before

My closet is now half empty… I love it. I want to become a minimalist, like my son. How could I have accumulated so much? Who was I impressing? None of it means anything, anymore. Good riddance!

One Week Before

Marcel has had an anal gland infection for two months, which hasn’t responded to antibiotics. The first vet sort of gave up and the second one was uncaring and flippant. I read that removal of the anal glands is the next course of action, but I don’t know about putting a 15 year-old dog through surgery. I decide to wait until we get to Tennessee to get a fresh set of eyes on it.

But after re-checking the glands myself, I change my mind. Still infected. How can I have this going on while we’re on the road for nearly a week? I decide to try one more vet. I like him. He suggests a longer run of antibiotics as well as two local infusions before we leave.

Three Days Before

The movers say it’s going to be 1500.00 more than our original quote. We are not taking very much stuff. The only furniture we have is two mattresses and a book shelf. No appliances. It’s all just personal belongings and my partner’s music equipment. But the representative on the phone says that if we don’t itemize and account for everything, it’ll be double on the day of the move… he just wants the move day to go as smooth as possible, he says. We don’t yet know it, but we later learn that these guys are just the brokers and want to hook us in for as much as possible because as soon as they pass us off to the next company to collect our things, the second payment will go to that company.

We say we’ll cut some stuff out and supply some of our own wardrobe boxes. It will now be 1000.00 more.

It’s cheaper to buy new stuff, anyway. I let go of my beautiful Mexican planters, my wooden Buddha statue, my mosaic table and random things in the kitchen. It’s just stuff.

Moving Day

They come in like a small army. After quickly showing them what we’re taking and what we’re leaving, we let them do their thing. My partner points out that one of them is throwing books in a box, the way a kid would throw his toys in a toy box.

Moving Day

They don’t let me take my vacuum. I schlep out to the truck with it and then I walk it back in again, like a schmuck. The foreman says we’ve reached our space limit and we’re going to owe 400.00 more. Meanwhile, he’s got my partner filling out a new contract. We’ve divided up, so that I can watch the packers while he watches them load the truck, out on the street. This is a plan we made on the spot after they left his Gretsch guitar in the street unattended.

Moving Day

After filling out new forms to reflect the additional charge, we are told that the new receipt would be emailed to us. Right now, we have no idea that It will never be sent, or that we will be highjacked for an additional drop-off charge. For the moment, we chalk it off to moving expenses and let it go.

On the Road to TN: Day One

It is 10PM in Flagstaff Arizona. We are exhausted after our first day of driving. Just as I am dozing off, I hear Marcel’s toenails click-clacking on the hard floor of this hotel. He is pacing. This is new. But the whole thing is new. He’s an old man and he’s been in the back seat of the car for six hours. I am prepared. I give him a Trazodone.

Knowing my son will immediately recall the I Love Lucy episode, I text him… “I just slipped Marcel a mickey.” Before our wonderful French vet retired, he had prescribed some for just these sorts of occasions, and for Tuki, during fireworks season, but I hadn’t needed them until now.

I bring Marcel to bed with me and he sleeps deeply next to me. It takes me a while to settle down again, but I manage to get a few hours in. I try to release my concern about being sleep deprived and focus on the fun of the road trip and new adventures to come.

On the Road to TN: Day Two

Marcel is slow to stir and doesn’t seem interested in his breakfast—not like him. Well, I guess he has a hang over. So, we press on, as we’ve got to get to Tennessee before the movers. We stop to eat lunch at a little grassy area somewhere in Oklahoma. I offer the dogs their meal first. Marcel is still uninterested. It is hot, so I don’t want to rewrap his food, as it is chicken… I have to throw it away. As I am tossing it, he throws up. I feel I am losing him and begin to cry.

We didn’t go to my partner’s home in France this year because of Marcel. I didn’t want to fly with him and I also didn’t want to leave him with anyone after having to come back early last year due to my last dog-sitter. One thing I have always known for sure is that I want to be the last face he sees when his time comes.

Tennessee was doable… We’ll all go together. It was our compromise. We’ll go to France when the times comes.

I give myself permission to give up control around Marcel’s health… I am only partly successful. It is the hardest thing to let go of. Guilt is rising again. A part of me wants to just stay put for the sake of Marcel’s comfort.

I begin to recall those stories I’ve read, about the early explorers… What did those early pioneers do, traveling across the desert and the great plains, for months or even years, in all kinds of weather and pressing against unthinkable hardships? With screaming kids in a hot wagon, no ready drinking water, no convenience stores, no air conditioning, and zero modern conveniences?

Whatever happens is okay. Even if that includes the worst possible scenario… If this is his time, I am here with him, I tell myself, as I turn up the air conditioning in the car.

On the Road to TN: Day Two

It is already getting late and I want to find a hotel and settle in. Thierry doesn’t like the first hotel we look at. We drive around… the second is worse. I’m getting desperately tired because I was awake half the night last night. We end up going back to the first hotel and they give us a different room, which turns out to be nice. Marcel is sleeping in his bed happily. I hope he stays that way.

At about 10 O’ Clock, I start dozing off when I hear scratching on the door. What is that? It is Marcel. Before dealing with him, I go to the bathroom, and when I reach down for something, I bang my head. Hard. It was a good knock against my right temple, and I can tell it will bruise.

I give him half a trazodone and we both go to sleep.

On the Road to TN: Day Three

I am the one looking for hotels this time, and the online search is not pulling anything up in this little town. We soon learn why… it is Native land and there are only two hotels to be found. I don’t want it to get late like last night, so I book the one that’s dog friendly. When we arrive, the lobby is hot and the whole thing is funky. But I cannot get back into the car and drive another hour to the next town. Thierry would prefer to keep going, but it’s paid for and I let go of my concern over whether or not he likes it.

He makes a comment about Marcel being inconvenient to travel with. I dont care. We’re a package deal. I let go of my concern and codependent tendencies, which include making things pleasant for everyone around me. Its not always easy… It’s just like having a kid sometimes. He apologizes and says he didn’t mean it like that… The French don’t sugarcoat anything. They aren’t conditioned to put a positive spin on everything, like Americans. They say it like it is. I’m still learning that their “honesty” doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying themselves. And truthfully, like all of us, Marcel is a bit of a pain! And like any family member who’s a pain, you deal with it.

On the Road to TN: Day Four

I was supposed to be keeping up with my work. I pictured myself grading papers on my computer in the hotel room each evening, but that hasn’t happened once. In 27 years, Ive never been late with grades. As a Virgo with OCD tendencies, Ive never been late with anything. But on this occasion, I let it go. It’ll get done, but not today and maybe not tomorrow, either.

We find another hotel in another small town, and again, Marcel decides he wants to walk back and forth on the floor at 10:30. It’s a hard floor… not carpet. Mentally, I give up on sleep, as I bring him into bed with me and try anyway. Tuki now wants to sleep in the bed, too. It’s hard to get comfortable with both dogs. We manage to catch about five hours.

On the Road to TN: Day Five

We are having lunch somewhere in a park when we finally hear from the movers. But we soon understand, that it’s not really “the movers.” Because it’s not the company we originally hired, or the guys that came to pack our things and load it all into the truck. This is the third hand-off now, and this guy is like something out of Goodfellas.

He tells us, in a thick accent, that delivery’s gonna be tomorrow, Friday. We are still about two days away. Tomorrow may or may not be possible, no matter how fast we drive. We explain that our delivery day was set for Monday, not Friday. Then he advises us of the extra fee because he can’t take his big truck down a little country road and don’t tell me anything and don’t disrespect me ‘cause I know my truck!

And it must be cash. And when we questioned this…and told him that we have a contract specifying a Monday delivery and an agreed upon price… he became all the more irate.

As he was yelling through the phone, we quickly understood that this is not the old world of proper customer service. In fact, this is a real-deal, well-polished con game, from the broker down to this guy.

As Thierry tries to call the original company, I drive. We can’t lose time now. We will try to make it by tomorrow. I give up on money once again… at this point, I’m grateful that we’re almost there, and in one piece. And if our things arrive in one piece, it will be a miracle.

On the Road to TN: Day Five

We end up in charming Somerville. Our first night in Tennessee. We walk through town and let the dogs sniff around the grass in the center of town. Marcel runs like a puppy. Well… that’s a bit of an exaggeration… it’s an old man run, but still. It’s all about small miracles for me now, and he’s running happily through the grass. He also sleeps in his bed in the hotel, with no mickey. This must be Tennessee opening up its arms to us.

As for the ending of this story, let’s just say it doesn’t really end. But there’s more to come in future articles. For the moment, Marcel is next to me and adapted immediately to our new abode. The everyday miracles continue… and letting go continues, as well. We dealt with the delivery guy, paid him his extra money and received our things. There were only two things that were broken. All the more to let go of…

Awaken Body

Awaken Mind

Awaken Spirit

Source: AWAKEN


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