There and Back Again

Today we all drove back to Krum to get another load of stuff out of the house.  We could have left the kids with relatives and put down the back and middle seats of the Suburban, thereby freeing up some room, but Greg judged that on this particular trip, three extra pairs of hands working to pack stuff would be more valuable than the extra space.  He was sure right about that.


A few days in the rented house gave us a certain freshness of eye regarding the house we lived in for nine years.  It seemed a place of beauty and serenity, wonderfully spacious and comfortable.  I could not suppress a certain feeling of, We’re giving up this?  For that?


Well, risk and sacrifice are inherent to adventure, and indeed to life itself, though we sometimes manage to trick ourselves into believing otherwise.  Temporal security is only an illusion.


This load included a riding lawn mower, a deep freeze, a refrigerator, and a washing machine.  These items were loaded first and properly distributed in terms of weight and trailer axles; then we filled in the gaps with about a zillion boxes of kitchen stuff.  Under Greg’s direction, we loaded the Suburban and trailer, swathed the trailer load in tarps, and tied the whole thing down with ropes, ratcheting straps, and bungee cords.  I watched the growing trailer load with a sensation of awe approaching dread, imagining what would happen if any of this stuff came loose on the highway.  If it were up to me, I don’t think I would dare to take three hundred miles’ worth of responsibility for such a load.  But Greg did it, and it rode just fine—no strain on the transmission, no bursting of straps, no trouble of any kind.


The thought of driving a trailer, changing lanes with it, hitching up to it, and most of all backing it, makes me feel a little queasy.  I learned tonight that Greg did not know how to do these things himself until he bought our first trailer, an old pick-up bed removed from its cab, when he was in his early twenties.  He taught himself, because he had to.  Looking back, I don’t think I realized at the time that he didn’t already know how to do it.  That’s how it is for guys:  they learn these things because they must.  I have never been compelled by necessity to pull a trailer or change a tire, and so I have never learned.  Faced with some crisis involving technology or machinery, I simply sit back and look helpless, knowing that some nice man will come along soon and take care of things for me.  This technique has never failed me, and I have suffered no social shame for my cowardice and indolence.  But my days of ignorance are numbered.  Before long, Greg will teach me to drive, back, and hitch the trailer, just as he taught me to drive an automatic transmission seventeen years ago.


The sun sank slowly as the load took shape.  By the time we drove off, it was nearly ten at night.  The kids shared the middle seat and slept most of the way.  I felt obliged to stay awake and keep Greg company, but I passed most of the three hundred miles taking a series of naps.  We reached the rented house around three in the morning, left the load on the trailer, and were in bed by three-thirty.

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