December 29, 2016 came up amazingly fast. And it also seemed to take forever to arrive. It took a whole community of friends, family and co-workers to help us launch. We made it out the door almost right on our target time on a crisp and beautiful Ashland winter day, but the days leading up to it were exhausting.
I would clean out a room of all our stuff, turn around and find it…. still full of stuff. This was not some Harry Potter world trick, it was more along the lines of when I think a room is clean and tidy and Judi can walk in and declare the room a total disaster. Wave after wave of “stuff”, that had already been deemed essential to life when we return in 18 months, loaded out – first a wave of summer clothes, then art work, then little things like pens or the third set of family silver, then shelves and tables, then winter clothes and then more and more stuff. I knew the house was packed when there was no more room in the storage area. And when our friend Anne Jenkins showed up with her passion for throwing things away combined with the fact that we were finally too tired of packing to put up any resistance. She should have shown up days earlier. But, it wouldn’t have mattered, we weren’t totally ready until this last week. Becky Sniffin, who had a professed passion for packing other people’s homes (I hope this doesn’t cause her phone to ring off the hook now) brought her whole family over on two different weekends over the past few months and gently nudged us forward. She would lay out all eight bottle openers on the counter and, without a hint of judgement in her voice, ask “how many of these would you like me to pack up for you?” In the end it was all gone, twenty years of tools and trappings of a wonderful life all packed and stacked away. Into the rented Toyota we threw our four backpacks and a few tubs of extras for our time in LA.
By 1:30 am we rolled into Dana Point, CA. The kids poured into their sleeping bags and continued to sleep but Judi and I had to talk for an hour still. Over a glass of wine (Anne said not to give away all the wine and to take one bottle south with us – thank you again) we felt the first hint of excitement peeking out through the exhaustion, the nervousness, the preparation, the sense of leaving behind our friends and possessions. It was as good a launch as I could have imagined.