Joad Road Trip

(I wrote the following last night, but couldn’t get online until today. Update to come.)

Five states in one day. Day 2 of our 21st century Joad road trip has taken us from Florida through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and into Texas. Bud had the van checked out by a mechanic this morning, who pronounced that the rear end was hot after our first day’s drive because we’re pulling a heavy load through the south in August – duh. So now we’re making tracks, driving through Cajun country under an almost full moon. Sadly, the landscape of one of America’s most interesting regions is marred by towering billboards for casinos, one after another. A detour off our Route 10 fixation in hopes of finding some jambalaya yielded nothing but the usual chains – and a car dealership owned by someone named Bubba Ouestelet. Ain’t that Acadia.

Still, don’t underestimate the beauty of the deep South: all those rivers and woods and Spanish moss and swamp. We’re driving Beverly Hillbillies style, our van loaded with tools and files, pulling our PT Cruiser, loaded with clothes and pots and an electric guitar. We’ve got the cat and the dog. In other words, this isn’t a sightseeing trip: Interstate 10 runs from Florida to Cali, and we don’t plan to veer far from it. I mean, we can’t even back this rig up.

Besides, I’m tired of getting ready to move, and moving – I want to be in California already. Our sendoff from Miami was beautiful. Neighbor Lili threw the party of all parties Saturday; I was touched by the turnout, the speeches, the hugs of the little children saying, “I’ll miss you Evelyn” in the sweetest of lisps. We couldn’t have gotten packed and on the road without the help of Lili and Joe and Susie and Harry and Joan. I kind of felt like we were staging our own funeral – now I know just how loved we are.

Saturday was its own epic poem: Yard sale all day, sayonara soiree all night. The saga of the bed summed it up. Last year I finally got us a new, nice mattress, for which Bud built a custom frame – as if we’re fancy people. Of course, I made a wrong choice and the mattress was too soft for Bud’s bad back. He prefers Cole’s Job Lots cheapo mattress, and often sleeps on it instead. For two weeks, we tried to sell this expensive but unwanted furniture on Craig’s List. The day of the yard sale, a couple with five children said they wanted it and a number of other items. They left with one load in their pickup – and didn’t come back.

Once we realized that sale was gone, several more people said they wanted the bed – but no one ponied up with cash. Finally late Sunday, as we were emptying what was left of our house onto the swale for a bulk pickup, Bud said forget it, and took the bed over to the neighbors, gratis. At 10 that night, as I was already in my nightgown, there was a knock at the door. It was the husband of the original couple, looking sheepish as sheep can get: “When you have a wife like mine,” he said by way of apology. I just had to laugh. When he came home empty handed and explained to his wife that we had given the bed away, did he tell her in an angry, ironic, or patient voice?

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