Saturday, March 18, 2017

It Was Forty Years Ago Today...

... that what I refer to as the fourth chapter of my life came to a close. I went to bed at 12;30 am on March 18th after having spent the entire night of March 17th completing the process of packing up our belongings at 621 Olive Street in Cedartown, Georgia. On March 18th at 8am, the movers came to begin loading our belongings to take them to our apartment at 1029 Franklin Road in Marietta.

(The first chapter of my life includes all my early experiences up to that day in early January 1959 when my parents bought me my first four comic books so that I would have something to read while I was in the hospital recovering from a tonsillectomy The second chapter began then, and continued until the time that I discovered fanzines and fandom in 1966. The third chapter began then and continued until the time I got married on June 15, 1971. The fourth chapter began when Susan and I got married and ended on this day in 1977, when we left Cedartown to begin our new life in Marietta.)

The big move was a hasty one: Susan, who was still taking computer programming classes at Coosa Valley Tech, had landed a job near Lenox Square in Atlanta with Management Science America, but they didn't want to wait for her to graduate. She had demonstrated the skills and knowledge to do the job, so they made the offer on March 7th... but they needed her to start on March 14th! That gave us one weekend to find an apartment and prepare to move.

Susan's school was great about it--they said that since she had gotten a job in her field of study, they would consider that as completion of her course requirements and would issue her a certificate at the end of the quarter. They told her that there was no reason to come to class after Wednesday, March 9th. So I took the day off from East Rome High School on Friday, March 11th, and we began our apartment search.

Today, Franklin Road is struggling to recover from years as a residential war zone fueled by run-down apartments that became centers of criminal activity. But in 1977, Franklin Road was one fo the trendy, desirable areas of Marietta, lined with newly-constructed apartments occupied by an influx of young professionals working. Best of all, it was a little more than midway between Susan's job at MSA and my job at East Rome High School, where I was teaching English. I had a 50 minute drive from the apartment to my classroom,  and Susan had a 35 minute drive to her office at the corner of Lenox and Peachtree.

So we signed a lease on March 11th and paid our deposit, our first month's rent, and an extra half-month's rent to take possession of the apartment on March 18th.

Since Susan had to start work on Monday, March 14th, our good friend Larry Mason, who lived off Dresden Drive in Chamblee, let her stay at his apartment. I stayed behind to continue teaching my classes during the day, to find a moving company, and to begin packing up everything we owned for our first major move since our marriage in June 1971.

Like everyone who packs for a move, I started off with every intention of being organized. That lasted until Tuesday night, when I realized that the movers were coming on Friday morning and I had packed only about 20% of our belongings. On Wednesday,  I began packing random belongings into whatever boxes and containers I could find, hoping I could unpack them in some semblance of order once we got to the apartment. By Wednesday night, I had everything packed... except for the books.

And we had so many books!

So my good friends Gary Steele and Barry Hunter came down to Cedartown on Thursday night, March 17th, with oodles of boxes, and we began packing. We worked like maniacs. Everything was perfect with one exception: either Gary or Barry had brought several appliance boxes down, and they filled those with books. Turns out that a 3' x 3' x 4' box filled with paperback and hardcovers weighs about the same as a small planetoid.  We looked at each other, then realized that we weren't going to have to move those boxes--the movers were!

And just after midnight on March 18th, we were done. Susan and I were closing out our lives in Cedartown--the place where we had lived since our marriage, and the town where Susan had lived since birth--and moving to a place where neither one of us had lived, where neither one of us had friends, and where neither one of us knew exactly what the future would hold for us.

Turned out it worked pretty well. But I didn't know that on the night of March 18th, when I spent a sleepless night on our sofa because I had packed away all the bedsheets and dismantled the bed frame. I probably dozed an hour or two, but I was too wound up with adrenalin from the evening of packing... and with anxiety from the impending move. Life seemed horribly uncertain, and we had all too little time to prepare for the change.

But that's the way life usually is, right?

(I'm including photos of me and Susan taken around 1976 just to remind me of how young we really were at the time. As is almost always the case, Susan is photogenic and I'm not...)

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