October 14, Cleveland
Bill picked me up at the Cleveland Airport and took me straight back to David and Doris’s for a matzoh ball soup family dinner. Thirty-six hours later, after some badly needed sleep and some equally badly needed showers (thanks again, David and Doris!) we packed up to go.
We discovered a few things. First, if you use the toilet in the van just a little too much without dumping it out, it starts to smell. We also learned that the RV place in Coxsackie–supposedly the only one in our area you could trust–got even more wrong than we thought they did. Not only were the skylights they charged us $744 to repair leaking twice as badly as before, they had also assured Bill that the plumbing in the van was in good working order and ready to go. It was a pleasant surprise, since the person who sold us the van had told us it wasn’t working. But they said they’d checked it out thoroughly and would work fine.
I don’t like to accuse anyone of lying. And I suppose they have their own version of that conversation. Maybe Bill heard “It should work fine,” but what they actually said was, “We have no idea–we haven’t bothered to check it.” Because that’s what they meant. We know, because a hinge that held the dumping pipe from the van in place was completely rusted in place and obviously hadn’t budged in years.
If they had checked, it’s just possible they would have noticed that all was indeed not well with the van plumbing. In fact, the fabric part of the dump hose had disintegrated over the years and when Bill tried to pull it out for use, it disintegrated into a giant Slinky.
We managed to get the van toilet dumped out with the hose from the trailer and some gumption. We imprisoned Miri in the cat carrier since neither one of us could face dealing with cleaning up our bed again. And we headed out.
Somewhere in this process, I asked the question. I couldn’t help it. I’d been thinking it and not asking it almost from the moment we set out.
“Are you enjoying this?”
Not exactly, Bill admitted. “I’m not enjoying all the problems but I am enjoying that we’re figuring out how to solve them,” he said.
I can relate to that. Overcoming challenges is very satisfying and we’ve had a few of them on this trip so far. And I see why it’s working for Bill more than me: He’s been the one solving the problems. I’ve been more like an innocent bystander, at best, and a heckler at worst.
But when I said this, he protested. “I couldn’t do it–wouldn’t want to do it–without you,” he said. In fact, he admitted that late at night while I was away in San Francisco, he’d asked himself what he would do if I did not return. “I probably would have hunkered down. Maybe wound up in an apartment here. It’s not that I couldn’t have figured out how to pack up and go with the cats and everything, I just wouldn’t have wanted to.”
In fact, some friend or other had, half-jokingly, suggested just this: Already on the West Coast, I stay there and wait for him. But of course I would never do that.
“You don’t really think I would have done that, do you?”
“No,” he said. “But it was late at night. I started wondering, ‘What if her plane crashes?'”
“So if my plane had crashed, your biggest concern would have been how to get out of Cleveland??”
That at least got a laugh. I’ll admit I continued pretty moody, and difficult, and miserable for many more miles. After all, none of this was my idea. On the other hand, I agreed to it, and here we both were in the middle of it. So we continued west. Determined that things would get better.