Road Trip

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I got divorced in April and since then I’ve been working to get my life back together.  Today marks a miilestone in that: I drove away.  Since the divorce I’ve still been living with my ex, first in a separate bedroom, and recently in a 32-foot motor home parked on the property. I have 6 cats, so finding any rental place seemed like an impossibility.  Furthermore, I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’d really like to move out of Texas in preference for something cooler and more mountainous (Washington and Oregon seem promising).  So to answer my needs I bought a used motor home (with generous underwriting from Mom Corp.) and I’ve spent the past 6 weeks fixing it up and putting most of my posessions in storage.  Today marks the start of a week long shake down trip to see if I’ve got everything right.  I’m not officially moving yet, but that should soon follow.

Fixing up the RV was quite a lot of work.  The biggest impediments were the summer heat and the fact that I am working on this completely alone.  The interior needed extensive customization for me to be able to use it as a full time home.  I removed the couch and a swivel chair.  Where the couch was I built a custom bi-level desk to hold my computer and music keyboards.  It also has some built in shelf space.  In the place of the chair, which was next to the door, I built a cat tower – the bottom is an enclosed box for the litter pan, and above there are three levels of shelves for the cats to lay on and look out the window / gaze down on me imperiously.  I also replaced the bed; I built a large elevated platform for my queen size mattress with plenty of storage space underneath it.  Finally, I enclosed the entrance stairwell with screen mesh walls and a door.  I call this the “cat lock”,  Proper operation of the cat lock is necessary to prevent cat-astrophic loss of cat-mospheric pressure.  A full six cat-mospheres must be maintained in the cabin at all times.

Right now I’m at Huntsville State Park – a really nice park with a lake and wooded hills with hiking trails.  It’s quite busy right now, but perhaps it will thin out a bit Sunday evening.  I’ll be here through Thursday, so I should have plenty of (relatively) quiet time during the week to explore the park.  I have been here before, but never with enough time to hike the trails or see more than one small section of the park, so I’m really looking forward to the chance to wander around at my leisure.

The cats are slowly adjusting, but their individual reactions are often not what I expected.  I had, for instance, expected my oldest cat to react badly.  Her name is Snuggles and she is 17.  When we have moved in the past she has had rather traumatic reactions, but upon moving into the RV she looked around and immediately got on the bed in her favorite spot and went back to sleep.  She really doesn’t seem to mind the change at all.  On the drive to the park, she even slept on the passenger seat for part of the way, while every other cat hid under the bed in terror. I guess being old and creaky has changed her perspective so that as long as she has food, water, litter, and soft, quiet bed, then she’s content.

The one I’d been most worried about seems to be doing well, too, but maybe not.  Gracie is an almost feral cat.  In fact, she was a feral kitten when I adopted her, and although she was kept inside for the first 8 months or so, once she was full grown and had her shots she was allowed to go outside and she never looked back.  She would come in the cat door of the house to eat, and sometimes to get out of bad weather, but for the most part she lived under the house, under the neighbors house, in the hedges, and anywhere else she wanted.  Mind you, she was always friendly to me and has always enjoyed getting petted and loved on, but she also always hated being around other cats.  Since I expected her to adjust very badly and to probably fight with the others, I left her outside until the very last minute.  She came in only this morning as I was getting ready to drive away.  But there have been no fights.  She has been quite calm.  Honestly I think she is a bit traumatized by this.  She doesn’t seem to know what is going on or why this is happening.  I hope she will adjust will, but I fear that she is going to become depressed.

Tiger, Danger Cat, and Urania are adjusting well.  The last cat, Muffins, is not.  She hates other cats and is afraid of them.  She has been hiding almost constantly, and also has been pooping and peeing in odd places, which is very frustrating.  I am trying to help her by holding her – which she likes a lot – and reassuring her and sometimes keeping the other cats away while she eats, but in the end she is going to have to work through her fears and accept the new situation.

Of course, I have to do that too.  I haven’t even started looking for a permanent place to park yet.  Part of that is simply lack of time, but there have been times when I could have been out looking and instead stayed home and played computer games or read books.  Of course, not being ready to drive off yet would have kept me where I was, but at least I could have been finding out about what my options are.  As frustrating as it is to still be living in close proximity to my ex-wife, the thought of leaving is really scary.  We were together for more than 10 years, and I really don’t have any friends of my own, and my family mostly doesn’t speak with me (my mother excepted, of course), so moving on means letting go of almost everything I know.  Even most of my personal belongings are no longer around, since they are now packed up in a storage unit.

So this trip to the state park is serving a couple of purposes.  First and foremost it is the first pure vacation I have ever had in my entire adult life.  The few trips I’ve been on before have all had some ulterior motive, such as attending a funeral.  I really look forward to sitting around under the trees, and taking pictures of birds and generally just relaxing and shedding the huge volumes of pent up stress that I have accumulated over the past several months.  But this trip is also a gentle letting go of my old life.  I’m away from “home” in my new “home”.  I have with me only those things that I must have.  I am surrounded by strangers.  I am alone in many ways and no longer feel safe.  Like the cats, my world has turned upside down and been shaken side to side, and it is terrifying!

What comes next?


Next: A Small Goal