My son and husband discussed what to do. Clearly, we needed a place to spend the night, and to finish packing. Robert was very calm about being able to fit everything in. We went back to the house, where our neighbor Juliana was in her yard. She took me in, installed me on the sofa in their den with a throw, brought me a glass of wine and a cup of black-eyed peas for luck, and offered to put us up for the night. Then she went across the street to help pack. Meanwhile, we had realized our bicycles were not going to fit in the truck, and Robert and Arend went off to get a bicycle rack for our trailer hitch. Juliana’s husband, Andy, who was not happy to see us leave and who had already said goodbye twice, came home to find us not only still there, but staying in his house. Eventually we all watched The Maltese Falcon and collapsed.
Soon after daybreak, we went across the street and begin packing and loading again. Andy and Robert had seen how much space was still on top of the load, and Robert fitted all the unboxed odds and ends carefully in, then finished with the boxes. Arend, the heavy-duty bicyclist in the family, went to work on assembling the bicycle rack. He got stuck at one spot. His father tried; Andy tried; I tried. There was a piece that just wouldn’t quite fit. I went across to more neighbors; she works at REI and he worked in a bicycle shop long ago. We decided it need to go back to the shop for a return or instructions. Robert the neighbor (the neighborhood is full of Roberts) took me up to the bike shop, where their assembler said “I dunno, I’ve never put one of these together before” and then not only neatly tapped the part into place with his rubber mallet (we should have thought of that, but ours was already loaded, of course), but put the whole thing together.
We went back to the house and Robert the neighbor started putting the rack on the hitch. Virtually everything was loaded except the things sitting on the lawn waiting to go in the car. I was beginning to hope, when I realized I had left my purse sitting on the counter in the bike shop with more than the usual vital stuff in it. Since I couldn’t take our car, Andy took me back up there, where I walked in, walked to the counter, picked up my purse, and walked out, without a notice from anyone. When we got back, it turned out a thread was stripped on the mounting bolt for the rack, so Robert the neighbor went off to obtain a new one. We finished loading the car, and waited. Mina, his wife. took pictures. Robert arrived with the bolt, eventually it went in, and we were ready, exactly 24 hours after we had intended to leave.
The neighbors gathered, Robert pulled out to the stop sign at the corner, and I backed the car out of the driveway. There was a huge grating noise. Arend, in the passenger seat, said a word under his breath that you shouldn’t say in front of your mother. I pulled forward. There was another huge grating noise, the sound of tires spinning, and the car stopped. I got out. I had backed over the curb. The bicycle rack was wedged against the street; a rear tire was wedged against the curb. I despaired. Juliana, brilliantly, said “Put a board under the wheel,” and produced a short length of 2×4. Robert, who had left the truck idling at the corner, backed it out, the board raising it just enough to clear. We all cheered and I drove up to the corner ahead of the truck, since I was to drive lead. As we were waiting for a gap in traffic, a middle-aged man on a bicycle, naked except for a g-string, pulled up next to us and crossed the street, a perfectly Austin ending to 23 years there.