The mission: a seemingly impossible road trip with the ultimate goal of packing up the last of my worldly possessions. I’ve got to gather what’s left in Ohio and bring it all back home to Goodland. I hear the “Mission Impossible” theme song in my head every time I think about the gravity of the situation, but it’s time to say goodbye to what was and start laying some permanent roots.
I will admit, in the weeks leading up to this mission I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Ohio. The daunting 24-hour drive promised to be just the beginning of a stressful week of hard labor to follow; and I honestly couldn’t remember needing anything I’d left behind. The part I dreaded most was saying goodbye to my son for the summer and dropping him off with his father. I knew I would cry.
I took solace in my love for a good road trip, knowing from experience that getting there is always half of the fun. If that held true, then this trip would be quite the adventure.
I’ve always found that timing is everything when trying to survive such a long trek, which is why I chose to get the flattest part out of the way while I was still fresh off of a good-night’s sleep. I wanted to hit the beautiful, scenic Appalachian Mountains just in time for sunrise, and we did. The cold rain had left ribbons of fluffy fog lying between the peaks and in the valleys. With ups, downs and twisty turns, mountains are always my favorite part of any drive.
My daughter, forever my sidekick, stayed awake with me the entire ride. We snapped hundreds of photos, stopped at way too many rest areas, and sang and danced like delirious, exhausted goofballs.
It was about 18 hours into the journey that I started to feel my aggravation rise in direct proportion to the increased speed and aggressiveness of northern drivers. When we finally passed under the “Welcome to Ohio” sign, I was relieved to see it.
Minutes after we arrived in Madison, Ohio — exactly 24 hours after leaving Goodland — I hit the first bed I could find and slept like a hibernating bear. Over the next few days, I made up half of the two-woman crew charged with packing and moving out of our three-bedroom lake house, filled with years of an eclectic array of accumulated belongings.
Although the trip started as a necessary evil, I’m happy to report that it yielded the desired positive outcome. I found some stuff I would have eventually missed, and more than a few things I really did need. We are coming back with a truck full of odds and ends, a new puppy and a very antisocial cat.
As a bonus, I got to see my two younger brothers; I’ve missed them so much these past few months. They will be joining us soon, though, as they plan to relocate to Southwest Florida before winter. My mom even took me to get my first ever professional massage to work the knots out of my road-weary neck and back. I fear I may be spoiled now; I just might need another one when we get back home.
Most importantly, my kids and I are official Florida residents. Goodland is where I plan to stay and raise them. In contrast to their scholastic struggles in Ohio, they are absolutely thriving in Collier County schools.
I’m surprised to actually be looking forward to that long drive back home, but I miss Goodland. I miss my friends, and I miss my cats. I even miss the heat! So here’s to leaving Ohio in my rear-view mirror and driving off into the sunset. Mission accomplished.
Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 239-896-0426