The first leg of your journey will be great. Wonderful even. Just you, a tall mug of that winter roast from Whole Foods that you like so much, and a calm stretch of road that’s ripe with possibility. Honestly? This is going to be the best couple hours you ever spend in the driver’s seat (way better than when you used to be a professional cheesecake delivery boy).
Bereft of any real understanding of what’s about to happen, you’ll smile at the other travelers as you head north on I-95. Palms will fade to cypress trees as the sun crests over the horizon. You’ll think: “I’ve heard people talk about ‘finding themselves’ on long drives like this. That idea seemed silly before, but today — here and now, on this most glorious morning — I understand. Things just make sense out here.”
This is when you’ll catch your first whiff of cat poop.
The stench unholy — a result of nerves and an ill-advised chow session right before departure — you’ll roll your window down and scan for a nearby rest stop. But Boog and Rosie won’t like the sound of air and the other cars rushing by. The two of them will meow incessantly until you give in and close the window, locking yourself in a stale vacuum that smells like the aftermath of the one and only time you tried the Volcano Burrito at Taco Bell. “Rest Stop 11 Miles.”
It’s Friday morning. Early. There shouldn’t be a crowd at this place, but inexplicably there is. You’ll park near a trash can, next to a black minivan. The van’s side door will open just as you begin shaking feces out of Boog’s travel carrier, her body draped over your free arm like a French waiter might carry a towel. A little Cuban girl is going to look on curiously as Boog hisses. “Top of the morning,” you’ll say to her mother as Boog chomps down on your wrist.
Back on the road after a 15-minute pit stop, you’ll check the GPS and see that you still have 13 hours to go before you reach your final destination — Baltimore, Maryland. Feeling deflated, you’ll reach for a bag of trail mix and somehow cut your forearm on one of the leaves of your potted snake plant. But no, you won’t let it get to you. You’ll pry open the trail mix, dump a big handful into your mouth, and take big, gasping breaths between bites. It’s at this point that you’ll realize Rosie has also pooped.
Five hours later, you’ll be up near Florence, South Carolina. It’ll be lunch time and people will call to ask how your drive is going. You won’t want to answer because you hate talking on the phone while driving, but you know that if you don’t, you’ll just end up with a bunch of melodramatic voicemails like, “Are you okay? I hope you’re just out of cell range and not lying dead in a ditch somewhere.” You’ll make no attempt to hide your irritation with callers and they will generally conclude that you are a dick.
By the time you find yourself puffy-eyed at the base of Virginia, you’re going to want to do something self-destructive. Ass numb and cats yowling in the backseat, you’ll wonder why you didn’t just move to Fayetteville, or somewhere out in the woods nearby — anything to stop driving at this exact moment. That’s when you’ll spot it: a billboard for Checkers.
With 1,300 calories-worth of Big Buford in your belly and a half-empty Rockstar Energy Drink in your cup holder, you’ll feel a renewed sense of vigor (and a little like you’re having a mild heart attack). When Boog poops again, it will at least coincide with your own need to take a restroom break. And as an added bonus, she’ll opt not to bite you this time.
Over the hours that follow, you’ll absorb some podcasts and, delirious with exhaustion, toy with the notion of trying your hand at stand-up comedy. You’ll wonder if the people in your new office will think you’re funny. “Probably not,” Boog and Rosie will seem to say. But really, they’re just meowing for food. “Only a little bit longer,” you’ll reply sympathetically. But they won’t understand you because they are cats.
Outside of DC, the traffic will come to a complete halt. Everyone told you this would happen, but you’ll still be like, “Why is this happening TO ME?” And as you sit still in the middle of a five-lane highway, it will suddenly dawn on you that you are actually only 40 miles from your new apartment. This revelation will make waiting in traffic even more unbearable.
Two hours later, when you finally exit the freeway in Baltimore, you’ll feel a sudden wave of relief. But that will soon be replaced by crushing anxiety as you think about all the things you need to get done before you sleep; unload the car… get the cats set up with food and water… find a free unmetered parking spot on a Friday night…
It’s at this precise moment that Boog shall, through sheer tyranny of will, conjure up one last poop. An offering to her new city, perhaps. Or a simple flippant gesture at you for making her sit in the car for so long. In any case, you’re going to have to deal with this quickly.