My mom said goodbye to her house today after nine years and goodbye to the Sunshine state after living here for 34.
“Nice of you to drive a homeless person and her cat to California,” she said.
I rented a car and drove to Melbourne, bleary-eyed, after a four-hour flight from Los Angeles. I showed up at her door around 8 a.m., wearing the same polyester shirt I had put on more than 24 hours ago.
Gussie remained wedged behind the couch. The movers showed up and started loading furniture and boxes. We cautioned them to move Gussie’s protective sofa last and we would stand at the doors like goalies and try to catch him if he bolted.
“I like pets,” the tattooed mover said. “I have some.”
“Yep,” he said, hoisting a box on a dolly. “I have snakes.”
“Oh, they’re not venomous,” he said.
“In your house? They just slither around your house?” I asked.
“Yeah,” He took a swig of bottled water. “I have a monkey, too. His name is Gizmo.”
I considered free-range snakes and a monkey.
“My daughter likes to draw in her room and Gizmo likes to imitate her,” he said. “He’s pretty good. She drew a sun and he drew a sun. Only when he paints, he uses his own poop. ”
He stopped loading boxes to pantomime Gizmo’s art endeavors.
Did not need that visual.
After the movers left, I stuffed a yowling Gussie into his spaniel-sized crate and lifted it into the back seat of the Volvo. Gussie had to come with us to the house closing in which my mom would hand over the keys to the new owners.
Gussie meowed a few times from his crate in the corner of Fidelity Title, but we all acted as though it was completely normal to have a cat at a house closing. Not unlike the way everybody acts as if nothing happened when somebody passes gas in the elevator.
When it came time to leave her house for the last time, I asked my mom how it felt.
“I think we need to get these trash cans out to the curb and blow this pop stand,” she said.