I did not cry.

Neither did the Spouse Thingy, and after about 45 minutes on the road, that’s what he said, cutting through the silence. “At least I got through it without crying.” I had to admit, I had to clench my teeth as we said goodbye to our friends, collecting hugs and well wishes, and even more as we drove off, waving.

This morning was our final inspection to clear housing, and everyone was there, waiting in the yard while the Spouse Thingy and I were inside with the inspector. And laughing their asses off when the inspector opened the back door to see if the yard was up to specs—only to see Next Door Guy’s size 100 undies hanging from our privacy fence.

I stepped outside while Spouse Thingy went upstairs with him to check the bedrooms, fairly sure we’d pass, but never 100% certain (and relieved to hear later the guy said he was impressed…and he had never seen so many people collected in one place for a final out.) When I knew the Spouse Thingy was in the kitchen, signing papers, I felt the stirrings of dread…I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted to stuff everyone in my suitcase and take them with me. I could feel the dread coming off my fingertips in drips of electricity, and started biting down hard, swallowing past the lump forming in my throat.

For a place I didn’t really want to come to, someplace that was never home, leaving was perhaps more difficult than any other place we’ve been.

I’m definitely taking away more than I’m leaving there; last night we were given a framed picture of all the neighborhood kids—who, in spite of the fact that I am not old enough yet!a—make me realize how much I will cherish having grandkids someday. And I can’t imagine ever again having a neighborhood like that, with so many awesomely incredible people…even the Evil Ones. And I think they know just how Evil I truly think they are.

Ok. Before I actually do cry…

We hit the road, after a quick trip to the bank, around 10:30, figuring we’d try to get in 400 miles today. Along the way we discovered we had a stowaway… His name is Fred, and he’s turning out to be quite the party animal. I would be nice if he would take a turn or two driving, but lacking arms—well, feet too—we can’t expect too much.

We did about 500 miles today and stopped in Iowa City, mostly for the sake of the cat… he howled for the first 3-4 hours, then just meowed quietly every 15 seconds for another hour or so, before giving up. He napped off and on then, but hadn’t had anything to drink nor used the littler box since morning (normal for him in the car) so we stopped at the first motel we saw, and are pretty glad we did. It’s very nice, better than the room we had last night—twice as much space, and high speed internet access, for about $10 more than we spent last night.

Depending on what time we get up in the morning, we’re going to shoot for 700 miles. And hopefully the cat will quiet down early, before we feel the stirrings of “don’t strangle the kitty, don’t strangle the kitty, don’t strangle the kitty…”

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