Anthony Works in the Grocery Store

Scott Ryan

It was 4:30 AM and I was barreling down the Ohio Valley Interstate just about to cross into Kentucky, and I couldn’t stop laughing. The sound was deafening. Not my laughing, but the rattling of the U-Haul truck cab as the large trailer picked up more and more speed. Somehow my wife was sleeping through it all. My arms shook like jello as I tried to control the oversized steering wheel, and my shoulders rattled from the laughs and vibrating cab. I just couldn’t contain my feelings anymore. Behind me in the back of the truck was literally everything I owned. It was everything my wife owned. (If you are saying, “Wait, if you are married wouldn’t you own all the stuff in the truck?” Well congratulations on being single. Order whatever you want for dinner tonight and truly enjoy it.)

 

I was fully enjoying my situation at this moment. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that all these possessions were coasting down an uncontrollable hillside at 80 miles an hour and gaining. Somehow we had managed to take everything we ever bought, or had been given, taken it out of its place, put them inside a truck, and now they were sitting in the back of a U-Haul at 4:32 AM. Tomorrow they would be unloaded and placed in a new location on the other side of the country. My giggles weren’t because I hadn’t slept yet. I had slept, just not for long. We woke up at 2:50 AM to start the 18 hour drive to the new location where our mail would be received. We were leaving our grown children, our aging parents, and the neighbors whose dogs barked all day long. We would find new neighbors to annoy us, but thankfully we were too old to collect any more family.

 

So my toothbrush was going 80 miles an hour. As was my Arby’s employee uniform that I stole on my last day working there in 1990. All my books. All my records. My signed program from Elaine Stritch. All the Lysol antibacterial wipes my wife bought over the lockdown. Every paperclip. All the miss-matched pairs of socks and underwear. All of it was traveling down this hill. I pumped the brakes as best I could trying not to awake my sleeping love. My laughter grew into a cackle as the steering wheel stopped shaking and we slowed to a more manageable 65 miles an hour—as if that wasn’t a laughable concept. Everything was under control now. (Everybody laugh.) 

 

All we had to do was drive another 16 hours, unpack all of this into the new house, start over at 50, try not to get COVID, and figure out how to make enough money in the next few years to retire. I looked out at the empty highway. I tried to listen to the song playing under the sound a house full of possessions rattling makes, and I did what anyone would do. I started laughing uncontrollably all over again.

Scott Ryan is a writer living in Florida.

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