Treated This A’Way

Saturday was moving day. Saturday it snowed.

Monday night five tornadoes tore through the metro. Wednesday we were outside in shirtsleeves. But it snowed Saturday. Such is March in Missouri.

I had reserved a truck to move my worldlies from the suburban house where I’ve lived the past fifteen years to an apartment over a shop just south of Rockhurst University. Things don’t always work out like you plan.

This move has been a long time coming. Turning the page or turning over a new leaf are clichéd metaphors for a deliberate change of Life’s direction. So is starting a new chapter. I’m closing a book and choosing a new volume.

Before moving to Jackson County I never lived anywhere as long as five years. I’m a Vietnam-era Army brat. The 1960s Pentagon shifted men across the board like some Vegas prestidigitator or back alley purveyor of three-card Monty. Dependents were baggage, packed and toted behind the soldier to his next assignment, stored in post housing until the next move. It never paid to get attached to any community. You would be ripped from them, soon enough. Or they from you.

That’s neither to credit nor blame Army culture for my rootlessness. That is mostly my own doing.

My parents settled in Virginia once the Army assigned my father to Ft. Monroe. That’s on the tip of Point Comfort, overlooking the entrance to Hampton Roads. Up until recently there has been a fortified military base at that position since the early 17th Century. There was when my father joined TRADOC in 1968 after returning from Saigon. There were five of us children at the time and the post had no quarters suitable for a family our size so my parents bought their first home in Hampton. After that though Dad had a number of other assignments—including a second tour in Nam—the rest of the family stayed in place.

In 1972 my parents moved into the Westover Estate, in the small York county town of Poquoson. That’s been the family home since, and I’ve lived there several times after graduating high school, but I was really one of the pioneers of the Yo-yo Generation, moving in and out of the family home with several successive forays into school or marriages. Things don’t always work at like you plan.

I moved to Missouri to personally meet the fiery Brynhildr, whom I had known online in chatrooms and other fledgling tries at internet social media. In the 1990s internet relationships stayed on the QT, because anyone you told was just certain you were going to end up hanging from a meat hook, but by the early 2nd Mil it was a common form of dating. We had known several mutual friends to meet that way. As many are still together as those who’ve met at school or 12-step fellowships.

In a whirlwind we met and fell in love and bought the house in which we lived, planning to grow old together. Things don’t always work out like you plan.

So now I had a deadline to get out of the house.

My life has been a cycle of good news/bad news tales; my search for a new place to pitch my tent proved no exception. Barely had I begun my search than Opportunity picked a lock and threw open a door for me. With lease in hand I started making arrangements to transfer my small cache of worldly possessions into the new place.

Boxes of books and clothes and music, some objets d’art, electronic accoutrements. The plan involved loading boxes into my car at night, swinging by the apartment after work, thus transporting the bulk of my possessions. I also began pricing the cost of hiring a mover for a few pieces of furniture.

Setting plan in operation I delivered three boxes to the apartment on Wednesday. Thursday my car’s timing chain gave up the ghost in a head-in-the-hands, sackcloth & ashes kind of way.

Things don’t always work out like you plan. Go to Plan B.

I priced a truck rental, do-it-yourself moving. It wouldn’t be the first time. I found a place online. It’s great living in the 21st Century. (Except I distinctly remember promises of rocket packs and orbiting space colonies.) The address was on 40 Highway, just down the road from the house about a mile, an easy walk. I could pick up the cargo van Saturday afternoon, drive home, load it, drive to the apartment, take the stuff inside, and still have time to swing by the grocery before returning it.

It snowed Saturday.

It was a light snow and didn’t stick to the streets. I walked an asphalt path up and down the hills between my home and XYZ LLC, who were rental truck agents (among oh-so-many other things, I had dealt with them before, paying a utility bill, they acted as if it had been an imposition) and when I got there they were closed. Locked tighter than a drum. With a different company’s logo and material visible inside through the windows.

Shocked, I walked back home and double-checked the emailed receipt.

In the trades they tell you to measure twice and cut once. That’s always good advice. It turned out what I thought was XYZ LLC was ABC Ltd, which was a mile further up the road. Things don’t always work out like you plan.

I could wallow in it, or I could roll with it.

I walked to ABC to get my truck..

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About Mark Matzeder

By education a filmmaker, by trade an electrician, by avocation a writer and sometime scholar. Occasionally I wring an essay out of some observation I have made or experience I've had and share them here. Sometimes I'll share short fiction. Sometimes a poem. But mostly it's just my spin on this strange trip.
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