My last few days in Los Angeles were all a complete cyclone. It was the flight for life, and certainly one to remember. I had waited so long ... when word finally came that it was time to go I didn't waste any time. It was like I sprouted wings. Everything that I needed to get done would take a normal person a week or more to accomplish, but it took me only two days.
Word came on a Friday afternoon. There wasn't much I could do for several days, and Monday was MLK Jr. day, a National Holiday so I just knew the mail wouldn't get to me until Tuesday. That meant that I would have to wait 4 more days, but after 7 years that seemed like nothing. I knew I still had a lot to do anyway; the 4 days would pass quickly.
I went to work that night as usual. Things were fine and normal, no surprises. Work was quiet and peaceful, which gave me the time I needed to map out my next few days and find out if Carmax was open on Monday. I still needed to find a foster home for my cats. I'd been trying for months but hadn't had any luck. I closed my eyes and whispered a little internal prayer. Then I went straight back to what I was doing, researching foster homes. That night, a miracle happened. After five solid months of searching and trying, nagging and reminding, suddenly the perfect solution fell into my lap that very same night, only an hour after my whispered plea. A sister of a dear friend would take them in. She loved cats and often did it without compensation. Here I was willing to pay her for something she normally did for free. I dropped them off Saturday on my way to work. That was the last time I saw them. That night I set up an appointment with Goodwill.
Sunday was spent in anticipation. I packed as much as I could and held an "Apartment Sale" with signs out on the street telling people everything I had was for sale. Anything I wanted to keep or needed to hold on to until I left was packed away in the bathroom. Everything I couldn't fit into a suit case was sold off in pieces, if I could sell it. Neighbors came and took what they wanted for cheap. Goodwill would be by on Tuesday to pick up whatever was left.
Monday I had it in my head that I would wake up late and take my car to be sold and get a rental car. That Monday was a Holiday, and since I would have been off that day anyway, I decided I would be taking Tuesday off work as well, as my regular day off. I needed to be home on Tuesday when the mail came, I thought to myself.
At 0832 Monday morning there was a knock on my door. I had sold my mattress on Sunday, so I had slept on the floor with a pile of blankets and pillows. I rolled out from under the blanket and crept my way silently toward the door. Nobody knew what was going on in my life, including my neighbors. Who would be coming to my door that early in the morning on a Monday; a holiday?
I swept the jacket away from the peep hole with my left hand and leaned over to peek. My heart jumped up in my throat and I practically swallowed my own tongue. I shouted.
"Hang on! Hang on! I'll be right there! Don't go anywhere!!" The UPS guy jumped a bit and looked visibly startled.
"Ok, ok, I'm not going anywhere."
I raced to grab my bath robe and threw it on before throwing the door so wide open I almost fell backward. He stood there in his brown uniform, looking quite startled, like a cat that's just come face to face with a dog of equal size; the cat wondering if he could take on the dog and win if it decided to attack. Since I had just woke up and rolled out of bed, my hair was everywhere, I looked like a mad man, and I was standing at an odd angle thanks to having slept on the floor the night before. I had a major kink in my back and probably resembled a hunchback with the way I was holding on to the door frame, reaching out for the precious package in his hands.
"Just need you to sign for it," he said. As I took the signature device from his hands to sign it, he asked "must be something you've been waiting for, huh?"
"Oh, you have no idea."
I closed the door and tore the package open as a hyena after it's last meal. It was a large envelope, but what came out was so small I nearly dropped it. There it was... that's what I'd been waiting for. It had felt like years at that point and I had to remind myself it actually had been years - seven long years.
I got showered and dressed, went to sell my car, cashed the check in the bank and bought my plane ticket over the next several hours. I made the call about moving out of my place and planned out the next couple of days in detail.
While I was running around like mad on Tuesday trying to bag or box everything for the Goodwill people to pick it all up, I coordinated where to borrow a vacuum cleaner from. I planned out my sneak attack to drop off my work phone - I didn't want to be charged for keeping a phone I wouldn't be needing. I didn't let anyone know I was going to work that night. I had taken a radio home with me that Saturday night and I knew my employees so well I could predict their routine. I planned my visit to the office exactly between lunch shifts, knowing that as one came off lunch the other would be going out for a cigarette. I listened for the radio to chime in telling me they were trading lunch shifts. I hid just around the corner and waited to hear the gate squeak when the one went for a cigarette. Nobody would be in the office and that was my moment to act.
I wiped the memory on my phone, ran with soft-bottom shoes directly to the office, set the phone on silent and plugged it in to charge in my office. Then I put it in the paper box - not exactly hiding it, but not exactly leaving it out in the open either. I turned and went back out the way I came, careful to not disturb anything. One last thought send me back to my office to write a note. "I'm taking a sick day," I wrote quickly, and raced out of the office before anyone saw me there.
My place was completely empty other than my suitcases and blankets on the floor. It seemed so vacant. I had lived there for more than a year. It had become my home. Now my cats were gone. My couch was gone. My book shelf and tables and books and dishes and everything I owned was gone. Everything I owned in the entire world was fitting inside one large suitcase, one small suitcase and my computer bag. Once more I was back to basics, but this time it was by choice, not by the design of the universe or the thieves of Vegas. At that moment I still had more in my possession than I had when my uhaul was stolen in Vegas anyway. Still, it felt strange. It had been a long, hard year... and the year was over. It was time to turn the page and start a new chapter. It was time to go back to basics and go where I belonged. I was on my way.
Wednesday morning I woke up and rolled out of my blankets. I slid into the clothes I had set out for myself the night before and gathered everything close to the door. I took the clothes I had on the day before and rolled them up in my bed roll. I tossed them over the balcony outside and grabbed my keys.
I gave my keys to the apartment manager, threw my suitcases in the rental car and tossed my bedroll in the dumpster behind the apartment building.
Then and there I drove away...
I made my flight that afternoon and said goodbye to a life I had built for myself through hard work and great effort. Until I tell the story of WHY I did all this, nobody will ever fully understand. They can try all they like to come up with answers. They can guess at my motives. They can assume they know why. They can even speculate over where I've gone... but nobody will EVER know that story unless they hear it from me.