For someone who dislikes moving, I end up doing a lot of it.  For a five-year period (2003-2007), I moved every single year, schlepping my net worth across the country:  Houston to Denver, Denver to Minnesota, Minnesota to Denver, and finally, Denver to Delaware (not counting a final, intra-Delaware move from Newark to Wilmington).  I briefly befriended 10-foot U-Hauls, turned down the optional insurance, and went about transporting whatever crap I had accumulated during the year.

I’ve never been as efficient as Matthew at packing — he subscribes to the “no wasted space” philosophy.  I don’t fold clothes to pack for a trip; they sort of just bend themselves.  Matthew, with Tetris-like precision, carefully distributes weight in the truck, balancing crates full of books and CDs with mattresses and furniture as the truck sinks lower and lower onto its tires.  I sit back and act exhausted.

Once I step into the cab of the truck, however, I feel a surge of energy.  In that moment, I’m elevated above lesser, weakling passenger cars.  I’ve got diesel-powered brute force.  So if Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear seems overly masculine, I understand the impulse.  It takes balls to drive a truck — the bigger, the better.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the scene when Yves Montand jumps out of his hammock clad only in underwear.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to contend with ravaged South American dirt roads (though parts of I-70 can be rough), and I’ve never transported anything as volatile as nitroglycerin.  But, just in case, I turn up the music in the cab.  It drowns out the whinnying of the engine.  It gives me a certain pace at which to drive.  But most importantly, it smothers the sound of things shifting behind me:  the muffled crashes, the thumps of objects falling from great heights and spilling open.  Items shattering and tinkling or splintering and ripping.  With each move, I try (for a few hours, at least) not to become too attached to anything — an on-the-road moment of Zen.

There’s only been one moment during a move when I feared for my safety.  On the Houston to Denver leg, in Southern Colorado, the wind blew as if it were shifting the desert from one side of the highway to the other.  I slowed to forty miles an hour.  I saw “slowed” but actually, it was as fast as I could drive.  The truck strained against what felt like a hand pushing against its side.  Going up hills and crests, my speed dwindled to thirty, twenty-five, and I struggled to hold the wheel steady.  And while I really never believed that the truck would tip, occasionally I wondered.  Against my will, the truck shunted left and right across the road, like in the final scene in The Wages of Fear.  But with more abject terror and less maniacal glee.  We both had things to look forward to on our respective arrivals:  for Yves Montand’s Mario, a spinning and passed-out Vera Clouzot.  For me:  a bed, a pillow, and possibly a cat or two, in a home that I didn’t think would be temporary.

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