A Brave New World

A Brave New World January 4, 2012

Hahaha! Guess what I’m not doing? I’m not organizing and unpacking the closet like I should be. Despite the fact that I can’t find any of my clothes and neither can the Ogre and also despite the fact that all I have to wear is an oversized and extremely wrinkled Groundhog t-shirt and pajama pants, I cannot resist the siren song of the internet.

I guess you want to hear about the move. Here’s the thing, though. I cannot relive it.

Truly, we are cursed in travel. Cursed. Every move we have ever made has been fraught with horror, and this one was no exception. My parents even joined us in order to try and make one move easy. My dad drove the Navigator while the Ogre drove the Penske truck. Sienna joined them and was pretty sure it was the greatest trip ever. My mom and I flew standby with the littles.

Okay, I’ll do a quick re-cap. The Penske truck was, ahem, not terribly reliable. The Ogre spiked a fever whilst driving, a-freaking-gain. The flights were full up because we were flying on New Years Eve Eve, and we could only make the last flight of the day, the second leg of which was delayed so that we didn’t get into Tampa until 2 a.m. Oh yes, and the closest we could get to our new home was Tampa, because the Ft. Myers and Ft. Lauderdale flights were overbooked and Southwest doesn’t fly to Miami. Tampa is a three hour drive, y’all. So my dad broke off from the Ogre somewhere in the Florida and waited for several hours at the airport while we endured the Flight of Doom with the extremely overly tired and overly stimulated smallest children, plus the Layover of Horror in an airport where all the shops were closed because it was ludicrously late in the evening. (No, really. I spent one entire hour being hit in the face, bitten, pinched, kicked and screamed at by a one-year-old who had really had it with this moving stuff, and the following two chasing two hysterical minions through various terminals and trying to convince them to keep their shoes on.)

But we made it to Tampa. At 2 a.m. The Ogre had thought that he would reach Ave Maria by seven in the evening but, well, Florida is somewhat huger than we expected. He got to our new house right about the time we landed, only to discover that the house was, in fact, not unlocked as it was supposed to be, and neither were the keys in the mailbox. Or anywhere.

So after two solid days of driving with a fever, he was not happy. He muttered some very choice phrases and loaded Sienna into the truck and took her to a motel in Immokalee, the nearest approximation of a town-like-thing.

My dad, at this point, had also been driving for two days straight. And then he drove all night to get us to Ave Maria while my mom and I and the kids slept like the dead in the backseat. (I did offer to drive, but my father is what you might call stubborn.)

At about 5:30 a.m, I woke up as we entered Ave Maria. I was all excited, pointing out the Oratory in the distance, the campus, the piazza, and trying to ignore the palm trees. (Seriously, why am I haunted by palm trees? They are the creepiest trees in existence. And everywhere we move, there they are. Shudder.)

Even though we were approaching our new hometown in the dark, it was lit up enough to see it. I was so excited. Enchanted, even. As we drove closer, I pressed my face against the window like a small child, eager to get a closer glimpse of the town square and the beautiful church.

The church is so lovely! thought I. Look at it rising up in the midst of the town, the centerpiece of it all, the reason why we’re here, the…wow, the church is really big. Closer up, it’s really…really…oh my gosh, the Oratory is going to eat us all! It’s HUGE! It’s going to consume the town and all the houses and the people! We’re all going to become stained-glass sacrifices in the Oratory’s epic quest to become the LARGEST CHURCH IN THE UNIVERSE! 


Granted, by this point I was a little punch-drunk from lack of sleep and excess of exhausted children, but that was my thought process as we reached the main circle surrounding the Oratory. My parents and I started chatting, pointing out various things of interest (there’s a coffee shop! said my dad) (there’s a smoothie place! said my mom) (there’s a PUB! said yours truly) and then Charlotte happened to glance out the window, notice a statue of Mary with a light shining on it, and said, “Oh look, there’s God.”

The laughter in the car was uproarious. You have to remember that my parents are Evangelicals who pretty much think we worship statues, even though I’ve tried to convince them otherwise, so Charlotte’s comment, combined with the overt and obvious statue-lovin’ Catholicism of the town, was just the icing on the cake. Even they thought it was hysterical.

When the sun finally came up we drove back to Immokalee, got breakfast, woke up the Ogre who had chosen the closest approximation of the Bates motel in which to stay with our eldest daughter, and returned to Ave Maria to get our keys and get into our new house.  

That in itself is a whole other story which I’m way, way too tired to tell right now. Suffice it to say, we’re here. The town is surreal. People say hello to one another. I have neighbors, and know their names, and they bring us things and entertain our children while we unpack. People in the town introduce themselves and remember our names. Kids bike and scooter and play football all over the street in the afternoon and no one steals them. The whole street is decorated with little garden statues of Mary, which totally creeped my mother out, much to my amusement.

I’m not going to lie, after Vegas it all feels a bit Stepford-ish. In a good way. In the way in which I keep thinking, this is too good to be true. Places like this don’t exist anymore. The world is no longer this safe nor this good nor this comforting. People are no longer this friendly. Also, I sincerely hope the neighbors don’t convince my husband to upgrade to a more perfect robotic model of me. 

Because even robot me would balk at wearing an evening gown to the grocery store.


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