One stuffed donkey in official Hee Haw overalls – check.
“Barry Manilow Magic”, on cassette – check.
Half-assed collection of shabby charm bracelets and costume jewelry – clank.
A box of PG Tips tea bags – present and accounted for.
I’ve finally emptied my storage space and been busy sorting through the mythical valuables it cost thousands to keep safely warm and dry for several years now. And aside from way too many items like those listed above (okay, being the keeper of the Hee Haw donkey is a privilege and responsibility I take very seriously), there are master tapes; photo, press and clothing archives; along with some of Hazel’s baby and kid clothes – artifacts I would never part with. Fiestaware and Hall teapots and odd bits of furniture my mother gave me that make me feel like a missing part of myself has been put back in place.
But where’s the toaster? The iron and the vacuum cleaner? What’s in this huge box marked “Amy’s Favorite CD’s” and if it was so vital, have I been operating on a temp soundtrack all this time and maybe the movie of my life will look like it’s really supposed to, now that the music licenses have been cleared?
I doubt it.
Still, thank God that’s done.
I’d taken Amtrak from Hudson – a real Americana special heading north then west through places like Schenectady and Syracuse – to Buffalo, where my friend Norma Coates, professor of pop music, picked me up. She’d been guilted into coming down from Ontario to help me through one of my last blog posts – I don’t think I could’ve done it without her moral support.
Norma’s a big fan of Airbnb and I’d been wanting to try it. We checked into a cute young couple’s house minutes from the storage space in Cleveland Heights and had a wonderful day of taking in the sights: great food in Little Italy and Tommy’s on Coventry and Thai and the heavy metal wine bar. The sun was shining, people were smiling! It was like a lunch date with an ex, where you see the charm, the goodness and feel alright about that part of your life – it just wasn’t meant to be, but there’ll always be a special place in your heart for…
Forget it, what really made the trip was our visit to the Rock Hall of Fame. Not the Women in Rock exhibit, though I did enjoy that. No, it was the sweet young coat check guy, who said: “Excuse me, but…are you – Amy Rigby?” I figured chances were good he wasn’t a bill collector and said, “why, yes.”
“I love your music,” he said.
I wasn’t “in the Rock Hall”, so to speak, but for a few seconds I was, y’know?
(It occurred to me later that Norma possibly phoned ahead and then tipped him to say it but whatever, it worked.)
The Key West cafe of “Taste Of The Keys” had closed, though the sign remained. The dowdy corner that housed the UPS store where I got mail these past several years was now on its way to being a gleaming art museum. It was the end of an era.
By the time we had to load the rental truck, the fabled Lake Effect had taken hold, cold and grey with snow blowing horizontally into the back of the truck as we heaved furniture and boxes in. (Eric just pointed out that we could’ve turned the truck around the other way…that’s why he’s the packing master)
I left Norma to commune with the 16 Magazine archives at the Rock Hall and headed back to Catskill. The 9-hour drive was painless, with all my old radio friends to keep my company: Larry Groce and the Mountain Stage crew, John Tesh, Delilah. I’d saved some cash for the Thruway toll, remembering the last time I’d traveled without EZ Pass and ended up digging around on the floor for change because they don’t take cards.
“That’ll be…twenty seven fifty,” said the tollbooth attendant.
I’d only budgeted for twenty five, tops. He must’ve noticed the stricken look on my face. “That’s if I charge you as a truck, which technically I’m supposed to do,” he said. “Let’s make it…fifteen fifty this time. But next time, you’d better be prepared.”
“Next time? There’s no next time!” I cried. “This is it. Finished. I’m done. No more trucks, no more moving.”
“Good,” he said, and smiled. “Welcome home.”