We cleared out a few things and promptly left at 12:54 pm. And just like that, we were no longer Michiganders.
Road Trip of a Lifetime
Our first stop on our long road trip was to Uncle JB’s house. A long time friend, who visited us when the boys were born and visited us in Cyprus, JB is a tried and true friend. He let us crash at his house overnight.
The next morning, we headed out to Ohio and then made our second pit stop in Pittsburgh, PA, where another couple of Michigan friends, Uncle Ben and Aunty Esther, now reside. They were traveling pals in Germany at the same time when we lived in Cyprus.
They showed us a cool funicular in Pittsburgh called The Duquesne Incline. I could not believe how much fun those were. On a very hot and muggy day, we ventured out to see the beautiful skyline of the city. Our kids were dying in the sweltering heat, unable to master the art of dealing with humidity like our fellow PA friends. But it was worth the view when we got to the top.
Road Rage and Rush Hour in the City
After a day of fun in Pittsburgh, we ventured on the last leg of our journey. 7+ hours of driving was a true test of endurance. And they knew too. New Yorkers and New Jerseyans could tell that I was fresh meat. Those Michigan plates gave me away. 5 o’clock rush hour on the New Jersey Turnpike was pure madness. Signaling was pointless, but we finally made it.
From Michigan through Pittsburgh, PA to New Jersey, we drove in 3.5 days (14.5 hours). Thanks to our friends, JB, Esther, and Ben, who housed us all along the journey, I don’t know if the kiddos would have done well hotel hopping.
First Morning Light
When sunrise hit our bedroom window, it was just enough to wake me up at 5:37 am. Everyone was still fast asleep and the a/c blasted at full speed. At midnight in the middle of consoling Linus during one of his deep cries, Prof and I decided to sleep in the same room. Together we drove on this journey; and together, as a family, we would ride out our first rough night in our new apartment.
By 7:00 am, I heard the sounds of a jackhammer pounding away. No doubt the usual sounds of a city waking up. But who knew one would hear such things in the outskirts of NYC in Fort Lee, NJ? Perhaps you did; but more so naively, not me.
Sleeping on a hardwood floor with a carpet pad remnant, one of the last things taken from our old house, didn’t make for good bedfellows. My back was sore, and I wondered if we made the right decision.
At least that’s what I thought last night.
The sounds of the jackhammer persistently grew louder and pounded the back of my head.
When we arrived at our high-rise apartment building, our new landlord greeted Prof in Korean. I bowed as a dutiful Korean wife and felt a moment of brief relief from my toe cramp on the New Jersey Turnpike.
In the hustle and bustle of even suburban life in New Jersey, I had to move my car two times, Prof had to readjust our bike rack after it came undone at 70 mph on the highway, and I drove for the first time in NJ/NY rush hour traffic. Never mind the PA driver who flipped me the bird on the highway and the lady who didn’t see me in her blind spot yet proceeded to move in my lane anyway. It was a reminder that I was not in Michigan anymore.
When our landlord showed us the apartment, it was a mess. The place was cleared out, thankfully. However, the mildew and grime remained. With our leftover cleaning supplies from MI, I started on a four-hour cleaning spree, which led us to a Target run at 9 pm. This was the first time in a long time that I didn’t care if we paid full price for things. Swiffer, Brita , and toiletries (contains aff. links) were the main objective and a small toy for each child who endured through the long road trip.
Walking into Target was a surreal experience. The place was busy! Families with young children, couples making a nightly food run, and people of diverse backgrounds really reminded that this indeed the big city. Target is a quiet, solace place in Grand Rapids, and usually, not diverse. I had not seen so much diversity in a long time, and it was hard not to stare at people talking in different languages – even in Korean. It was very weird.
Our children are so unhappy. They desperately crave the things from home (aka Michigan), but our home now belongs to another family. It would have helped to know that our movers were coming in a few days, not at the end of the week. Once our stuff arrives, we can start to make it feel like home…
Prof will leave on his first business trip for his new job the next day after the movers come. It’s going to a rough week.