It's funny how when you have a date for something unsavory, like a root canal, or colonscopy, it seems like a dot in the distance. Plenty of time until you have to face the music. Then before you know it, it's the day before the dreaded date. And then you wake up the morning OF the dreaded date and your first thought is, "F#%K, it's here!" That's how I felt on Dec. 20, 2013 when I opened my eyes to laser bright sunshine streaming in my window. I had until 4 p.m. to get the last details taken care of before the van was to arrive at my driveway. Quite honestly, I don't even remember what I did in the hours that preceded my departure from NY state, but I had everything ready to go when I heard the air brakes from the van blowing at precisely 4 p.m. There was no turning back.
Aside from the two drivers, one of my customers and her husband, plus an extra helper in the form of a strong young man all began to drag, carry, or wheel the paraphernalia that I'd gathered in the barn aisle to take to SC. The driveway had turned to dirty, mucky slush which made this process ten times harder, but soon the equipment was packed into the peak of the van and the three horses were loaded. We made a couple of changes for where the (OH MY GOD) cats and dogs were going to travel. I was under control up until this point, but I could feel utter panic pushing to be released from my chest with each thudding heartbeat. It was time to take all of my poor, unsuspecting animals and stuff them in crates and force them to ride 14 hours in a cold, dark peak of a horse van. I really thought I might throw up. When I got into the house, I couldn't help but notice (read: torture myself) how cozy all the kitties looked as they were sleeping in various spots. Choking back tears, I gathered them and one by one put them in their traveling compartments. It was time to do the unthinkable, and I had to just man up and do it.
The wide eyed animals were nestled in the van, crate by crate, like Noah's ark, as I forced myself to close the door. I was running on hyper fast nervous energy as I thanked and said goodbye to my customer and her husband. I could feel more tears pressing to shoot out of my eyes when we hugged, tears that if allowed to flow would be difficult to stop. I didn't want to freak out the van drivers since they were stuck with me in the cab, so I brusquely cut the hugs short and climbed up into the passenger seat. It was sad to be leaving our life in NY, but after all of the hell I'd been through over the previous weeks I was relieved to finally be shambling down the road toward our new adventures in SC.
As for the cats and dogs? They traveled like pro's. I doled out treats to them at each stop, poking my fingers in the cages to give each a quick scratch. They were actually in better shape than me. The van drivers were amused at my initial angst over the pets, but that worry soon gave way to full on exhaustion. I even managed to sleep for a few hours in the bouncy, noisy sleeper cab by jamming a pillow over my ears. At 8 a.m. the following day we pulled into the driveway of the barn where I'd arranged to keep the horses until our own stable was built. Jonathan was already there and boy, was he was a sight for my bloodshot eyes. The first official leg of getting down here was behind me. Welcome to South Carolina!