One more for the road

By Bane Okholm | Apr 24, 2013

I was only supposed to be back in Maine for a week. Fresh off our belated honeymoon, I’d kissed my husband Ryan goodbye and made my way along the familiar leapfrog path from LAX to some intermediary airport and thence to Boston, where a long-suffering family member picked me up.

The very next day, a housing situation presented itself, and visions of pastoral life danced in my head like oh so many sugarplums. Gone could be the sardine-tin apartment, the constant hum of circling helicopters, and all those nights of listening to the neighbors being dragged off by the LAPD. Where better than my home community, the place that had nurtured me, to return to as a full-fledged ahhh-tist?

Of course, things are never so straightforward. Jobs in L.A. are about as legitimate as the North Pacific Deckpecker, so I moved home ahead of Ryan and took a low-level position to make our big move happen.

Two months crawled past in text messages, Netflix dates, and the occasional video chat. My free time was consumed with mad scientist scribblings, trying to figure out how to bring two people, three cats, hundreds of pounds of books and a folk band’s worth of musical instruments across the country.

We’d decided to sally forth from La-La Land Dec. 25, since that was when airfare would be cheapest. That still meant I was going to have to MacGyver my way out to the west coast on a shoestring just to help the delightful Mr. Okholm with all the box- and cat-wrangling, so on the 21st, my epic journey began.

I took a car to Portland. A flight to Las Vegas. A bus to Los Angeles. By the time I got to my destination city, I was so addled from travel and the plague germs of a fellow traveler that I nearly clambered into an “unmarked taxi” piloted by a creepy stranger. Nothing says “welcome home” to an Angelino more than a near-mugging, so I just took it in stride.

Books and knickknacks were easy enough to pack, but what to do with our eight-foot cat tree? We set it on the few square feet of front lawn while we pondered how to dispose of it — but by the time we returned, plan in mind, the godawful monstrosity was already gone, spirited away during the night.

The cats were happy enough to frolic through fields of bubble wrap, but they were less than impressed when we harnessed them up like a team of indignant sled felines. Then came the traumatic separation into their traveling containers: two in a dog crate to be stowed in pet cargo beneath the plane, and one in a bag over my shoulder. The moving van rang with a symphony of gurgling, displeased wails.

Of course, it was the largest and most terrified cat that was riding in my shoulder bag – mainly because I was scared he'd have some kind of traumatic reaction to travel. Children at the security checkpoint gaped in awe as I hauled the harp seal-esque beast out of his enclosure, and I heard strains of "The Circle of Life" as I held him up to be wanded, pendulous belly swinging in the yuletide air.

The first flight went well enough. Then came a hellish sprint through the Detroit airport, suspending the cat bag in front of me so the fuzzy leviathan could have a smoother ride. Another flight brought us back to Portland, and we slid north through the first snows of winter, arriving in Rockport to find an electric tree twinkling in the hall and lobsters in the fridge.

Nearly 16 months have passed since that epic December, and though I've occasionally wondered how things would've turned out if we stayed in L.A., I've never once regretted our decision to move back here. These communities — and all of you who read this and all who never will — are my heart and my home.

So as spring thaws the ice from the lakes, change is in the air again, and I'm not entirely certain what lies ahead. But sitting in this Bay View Landing office, trying to think of how to convey to you amazing communities everything you've given me — as a child and now again as a 20-something — all I can think to say is thank you. Thank you for bringing me home.

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