It is done! I am the proud owner of the camper above – AMELIATREE for way obvious noncreative reasons like the way it says amelia T.R.E. on the side – and on Friday, which is five days away – FIVE DAYS AWAY HOLY SHIT – I am on the road and gone. My house has been rented to a close friend who runs a sobriety program. Yes, for the first time in the last ten years, everyone in this house is going to be clean and sober! Far out, as Annie would have said. Maybe they’ll fix the place up and train the dogs to do tricks and put the cat on a diet. One can hope and pretend that one doesn’t feel incredibly guilty about abandoning one’s household, pets, friends and adult children. My therapist is working on it and anyway, it is too late. I am doing this thing. Goodbye, guilt! We’ve been too close too long. It’s my goddamn turn to have fun now.
I got the camper on Thursday, September 7. I bought it from the Camping World in Spartanburg, SC and I wish I could tell you to go down there and buy a used camper but ALAS I cannot because I am not, actually, super happy about how it all went down. I feel like they sort of threw me to the wolves. I had been trying to buy this camper for several months, but they never would come down close to my price. That was also a big old pain in the ass. Finally, fall came and they saw reason. Off I went down the mountain to Spartanburg, which is about an hour or so from Asheville. I was there for several hours during which they gave me what turned out to be a pretty cursory walk through of the camper systems. I tried to write everything down but I forgot to ask several really important questions, like, “Let’s try unplugging the camper and seeing if the battery makes the electricity work!” and “No, I’m sorry, watching you back it up a few times is not actually all that helpful, I need to try now with help.” and “Please let me hitch it up and down a few times so I know how it should feel.”
Yes. Well. I suspect you can see where this is going. I got the camper home – an hour and a half on the highway! It was super scary! But I did it! – and unhitched and had Jodi and Jay come over for a cocktail in the camper and. . . the electricity didn’t work. OK. Well. On Sunday, my friend Zen the genius came over and he figured out the battery they swore up and down was fully charged and practically new, was neither. Then we hitched up the camper, a fraught endeavour in which Felicity discovered that hitching it up all by herself is going to be damn near impossible, and took it down to the river to practice backing up. This all went, um, okay, although it was hard and the camper was making new and ominous bumping thumping noises. Then we headed back up Lyman St towards home.
CRASH! THUMP! WHUMP! SCREECH! Or something like that. Think Batman, but with less fun and more SCROINCH! The trailer came unhitched. Trailers, it turns out, are equipped with a safety backup that makes sure that in the supposedly unlikely event of this happening, they cannot go careening off into traffic like Godzilla on wheels. What happens instead is that the trailer brakes SLAM on and everything comes to a screeching halt and can’t be budged. In other words, passing traffic is safe but you the driver may well not be. Doing unto others is all very well but hello I would like to live through this trip. It also means that because the trailer is disconnected and the brakes are locked, you can’t even pull off onto the shoulder. Yay. I do not recommend this experience.
Zen reconnected the whole thing while I sort of directed the traffic around us. BY THE WAY ASHEVILLE THE SPEED LIMIT ON LYMAN STREET IS TWENTY FUCKING MILES AN HOURS NOT SEVENTY and hello APD, why is there not a speed trap there? But we survived it and I drove it back up the hill to home, shaking like a leaf. Got it unhitched and hied myself to the bar to freak out and try hard not to think about what would have happened if I had a) been alone and b) going faster than 20 and c) on a highway. Zen told me later that he went home to freak out and try to figure out how to help me not die.
OK! That was last weekend. This past week, I have been working like seven demons to try to dehoard my home so new people can move in. It is kind of impressive, really, just how much stuff I had in here. Zen came over a couple of evenings and figured out what was going on with the battery and I went and got another battery – note to anyone who, like me, is totally ignorant of the ways of marine deep cycle batteries: they are heavy as shit! Zen also adjusted the hitch and I tried to get roadside support to help with the hitch, which was supposedly part of the Camping World deal. SUPPOSEDLY. They refused to help on the grounds that the camper was not technically on the roadside but instead in front of my house. I am PISSED. Mostly, though, I didn’t have time. Also, I was scared. As was Zen, because we just are not sure that the hitch is any good.
Yesterday, there were movers. Today, my friend Charles stopped by and proceeded to school me in the ways of trailers. He has towed many a trailer and he approaches the whole thing with a delightful nonchalance. He says the hitch was not fully on and that was the reason for the thumping noises. He also says that porpoising, which means sort of bucking up and down in a manner not entirely although almost unlike porpoises rising and falling on their way through the ocean and is another terrifying thing AmeliaTree does, is normal and not to worry about it. I drove the truck and trailer. Charles drove the truck and trailer. We went to Hominy Creek park, where there were approximately five million people and Zen met us there to fix the electricity. He fixed it and gave me a toolbox full of tools, which was super sweet! And he and Charles made me disconnect the battery and reconnect it and promise to buy jumper cables and use a socket wrench and all that sort of thing. Then I tried backing it up.
That. . . did not go well. The five million people were impatient about me getting trailer lessons in the parking lot and I lost my shit. So then I followed Charles all over West Asheville through smaller and smaller streets, and then on to PATTON FUCKING AVENUE JESUS CHRIST because he says, and I know he’s right, that I should just take it everywhere and drive it constantly until I’m comfortable. Yeah, okay, but PATTON FUCKING AVENUE? Well. We all survived, although I did not get comfortable this afternoon. I got miserable and hangry and had to come home to eat a cheese sandwich, lie down and freak the fuck out.
And here I am. There are still about a million things to do around the house and at least that many to do to the truck and trailer to get them travel worthy. I was hoping I would be feeling less overwhelmed but unfortunately, no, I am if anything feeling kind of more. But the end is in sight, this is going to come together, I am going to learn how to back up this trailer (I am not going to just never back up, no, small interior voice, we have to be able to do this) and I am going to leave. I am heading north to the uncharted territory of the American Midwest, a strange and exotic region which I have learned of only through story and song. And I am heading there soon, goddamnit, so look out, midwesterners, I am going to walk amongst you and taste the glories of your native cuisine, whatever that is.