The last time I moved voluntarily, I was moving to a larger place - back into the house I grew up in, as a matter of fact - and it wasn't very far, so I didn't really consider the need to scale down, which is a good thing: I can be a real pack rat, given the opportunity, so it was a pretty involved process, involving multiple trips, and any element of fun to it was muted by the fact that I was making the move to be able to take care of my ailing mother.
This time, it's different; there can be no going back and forth when moving from San Francisco to Boston, and in terms of help I'm basically looking at Lyn when I arrive - and while there are several very nice attributes to her body, strength isn't exactly one of them. Fortunately, I don't have much personal attachment to many of Nell's possessions, so I could be pretty ruthless in putting them up for sale or donating them to charity. I even pondered getting rid of her laptop and buying myself a new one when I arrived in Boston, but being without something to write on felt wrong.
Nell's little car is still packed pretty tight, though, which is why I was a little bit apprehensive when Louisa sent me an email, asking if I would like a passenger for at least part of the way.
I only met her once, months ago, but I liked her. We've emailed back and forth a few times, and I've kept saying I'd like to come down and see her in L.A. on an off-week, but it never seemed to come together. I also wanted to meet Dana and Parker Costello, and since I had a few weeks between when I had to be out of Nell's place in SF and the start of my new job in Boston, I figured I might as well start my own road trip cross-country by going a little ways in the wrong direction.
Before I met with them, though, I made sure I stopped in to see Cassie and Jim. Cassie was Nell's best friend, and we got along pretty well, too, so it didn't seem right to just leave her life without saying goodbye. We wound up having dinner, then going out for drinks, and yakking about sports - was I going to assimilate to Boston so fast that I rooted for the Celtics next week, which I assured them was ridiculous. She said she'd read the manuscript I emailed her, and said that if I couldn't get one of the east coast publishers to do anything with it, I should explore one of the print-on-demand outfits. I said I didn't know about that - maybe Nell was fond of the new-media stuff, but as much fun as blogging is, I feel a lot more comfortable with the established system. I don't get paid for this, after all, and this is about the limit of how much I'm willing to write for free.
I crashed on Cassie's couch Saturday night and gave them big hugs before leaving for the Costellos'. Bigger than I expected, really; even after realizing how much I liked them, I'd always thought of myself as pretending to be their friend; it was strange to realize that it was the real thing.
Meeting Dana, Parker, and Louisa was a completely different feeling. Dana, for instance, is huge; I spent a lot of time around jocks during the lacrosse seasons, but Dana is taller than them and is really going to be something when he starts to really fill out. He laughed at the way Parker and I looked at each other upon meeting, saying we both had the same expression that Jessica had had when she and Parker first met. I guess it's a sort of universal guys-who-become-girls thing, especially for those of us who have been there a while: One part of our brain is scoping out the pretty girl, another is doing the female appraisal of the competition, and still another is trying to picture the other girl as a guy and figure out what we think of that hypothetical guy, and guys in general... It's pretty confusing to us, too.
They're pretty cool people, though. They seemed to like me, too, and we had a bit of a laugh about most of the people the Inn hits with this being nice people. If I were writing it as a story, there'd be way more irony in who gets changed to what, and the assholes would have a harder time of it.
Another thing I further verified: this change doesn't give us any sort of skills at all. Nell had played basketball in school and was apparently pretty good at it, though it was her third-best sport behind volleyball and lacrosse, but Dana kicked my ass but good when we decided to play some one-on-one after dinner. Heck, he handled me and Parker when we played a little one-on-two (Louisa sat out; she says she still isn't used to being strong enough to play sports well). It made Dana pretty happy, though - it feels good to know that being good at sports is because of his own effort, rather than something inherited from the original Dana.
Louisa was pretty low-key, at least until we said our good-byes and I gave her a lift back to her small apartment. That's where she handed me a meticulously organized file and asked me what I thought, since I had done some investigative and research work before.
I looked it over and was pretty impressed; it was thorough and as well-documented as it could be; Parker had made a good call getting the studio to hire Louisa on as a research assistant. The content of it was pretty impressive, too - Louisa and Jessica had managed to spend the last few months productively even while holding down a full-time job in Louisa's case and a heavy classload in Jessica's (she doesn't intend to graduate a semester late). It had taken a lot of patience and convincing, but it looked like it had paid off. They had the names and addresses of the original Marie Desjardins and Jean-Michel Therriot.
"You understand," she said, "I don't want to tell them on the phone or via email, but I don't want to call ahead and spook them..."
I told her it was no problem. I was planning to drive through Utah anyway, just to see the natural beauty of the place, and be only too happy to make a stop there.