"We" moved out of South Carolina.
I say this because we have a new address and new surroundings and a whole new batch of stuff to discover and explore, but I put the first word in quotes because it's not entirely true.
There is no way on earth, nor in South Carolina or Indiana, that Penny and I could have moved ourselves from there to here.
It took, by my count, eleven people just to physically lift and carry all the items from the house to the truck, and from the truck to the new house, and from the truck to the storage unit and so forth. *Another* eleven helped out in support roles, which included everything from giving us free boxes to bringing us pizza to driving a 26-ft. truck halfway across the country.
So while the 12-hour trip up was an adventure, caravanning with Penny in her brother's SUV, followed by a trailer with my motorcycle on it, followed at a somewhat greater distance by me in a massive diesel moving truck and a sizable portion of our belongings, chugging along at 40 mph up some of the mountain passes through the Smokies, it was only a small step in the journey.
Even before we left, we were indebted to the nice folks at the local Bi-Lo grocery, who gave us a bunch of boxes for free, and the ones at U-Haul, who sold us a few for cheap. We owed one to Baan Sawan, my favorite restaurant in Columbia, for staying open our last free night in town so we could have a nice, relaxing going-away dinner.
We have to thank our friends Jim and Pam, who (bless them) invited us to come to the beach, one last time, and spend a lazy afternoon getting scorched by the sun and not packing a thing. I'm thankful enough not to put their faces on the internet without permission. Pam's feet don't generally glimmer like that.
We appreciated the movers, who grabbed and dragged and grunted through a 95-degree afternoon, packing our things carefully into one gigantic truck and then another, after we finally accepted that it wasn't all going to fit.
(Note: Never let an optimist plan your move. I foolishly convinced myself that we really *had* pared down our belongings, and that lots of stuff would fit on Tom's trailer beside the bike, and the truck would be *so* capacious that we'd easily stow it all, perhaps with room to spare. Not so much.) I can still see the movers now, mopping their brows and frolicking in the momentary rainstorm that blew in just as the last of the truck was loaded.
Not having exerted myself quite as much as they had, I watched from the garage with my great friend Tim, who came as soon as his kids had been dropped off at summer camp and worked up a sweat lugging tools and bed frames and computer equipment and anything else that wasn't nailed down.
And we really appreciated our friends Larry and Kami when they arrived with a delicious vegetable pizza from my favorite pizza joint, Mellow Mushroom. This picture was from a couple nights earlier, when we celebrated Larry's birthday at an overcrowded bar.
They came just as the last of the kitchen was loaded, along with all our food and cooking utensils. We ate together on the front steps (the only chairlike structures left in the house) and thought about how much we'd miss each other.
I even appreciated the sunrise, which came just as we were passing into Tennessee on Sunday, and refracted through the foggy morning to give me an inexplicable sense of optimism, not to mention something to focus on besides one fading FM station after another on the crappy truck radio.
I was thankful to our cats, who soldiered through the trip like little fuzzybutt troupers, only meowing a couple of times over a 600-mile ride in a bumpy vehicle, and settling into the new house without any drama or trauma.
And once we arrived, we got unloading help from Penny's mom and her little brother Mason, whose young muscles and boundless energy almost made me forget how exhausted *I* was. Almost. Too tired to take any pictures of them, at least.
At the storage facility, we got king-sized help from Gerald, one of my oldest and largest friends. You know, when you're moving a nine-foot-tall pile of stuff into even taller storage units, there's just no substitute for a mighty giant.
Which brings me to Tom. The indefatigable Captain Kline probably did more to make this move possible than anyone, myself included, and his contributions extended through the whole process -- from lending us his SUV and trailer weeks before to helping us arrange furniture in the new rooms he'd prepared for us. I mean, the dude laid a floor in our new office, so if there's a valid application of going "below and beyond," he definitely qualifies. Plus he took me for a much-needed motorcycle ride as soon as we arrived.
But his dad was pretty darn impressive too. Helping us unload on Monday was one thing, but saying "sure" when we explained that our bounteous belongings had required a second truck, and that we could really use a second driver to go up to Indiana with us... that's pretty amazing. He and his wife Jan shared the driving, and I'm happy to say they got all our junk up here intact, despite some pretty rough roads through Kentucky and Tennessee. Plus he kept Vince company, and Vince is a big fan of his.
Oh, and Tom's wife came in pretty handy too -- being that she's letting us move in with her and all, and that I'm typing this now in her living room, as opposed to who knows where we might be. I'd count that as a pretty critical contribution.
So like I said, "we" didn't really move from South Carolina to Indiana. As I rub my aching lower back and brace myself for the credit card bill that will include hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, I don't forget for a second that we're here only thanks to the help of numerous nice folks whom we owe tremendously.
I just hope none of them ask me to help them move.
At least not this week.