Is This a Test?

by Rachel Gertz

Lowell Sewage Treatment Plant

Day 1—what the hell day is this?

It’s been a bit of a rough week. After missing out on the glory of New York, we dodged our way across the Bronx, past Greenwich, and into Providence, RI. Quaint little town. Didn’t see much of it, as we were embedded in the lining of Walter’s insides for three days straight, frantically tidying up some loose project ends. They have nice sidewalks here, though.

Resting on a sleepy side street, and after another allnighter (okay, for Trav—I got three hours of sleep), we packed up and moseyed on up to Boston. This day was doomed to fail.

Today felt like the ultimate test. Ultimate. Like stress I haven’t felt in a million years, test.

Hadn’t even left the parking lot and found a shiny orange envelope tucked under the wiper. $20 parking ticket. Thanks Providence. That’s a bit ironic.

—Travis is lucid, having been awake for 26 hours. Doing alright.—

  • I’m driving. Looked up a little RV park claiming to be six miles from downtown Boston. Liar!

Google map? Also a liar. GPS? Liarliarliar.

  • All these technologies drove us right into the ghetto of Chester, Massivetwoshits. Warehouse with shattered window and graffiti framed Walter like a gangsta photo backdrop. We always get the scenic tour. Sat for half hour debating our next move.

What are we going to do? —Being the theme of today

  • Headed to Lowell for comfort. Into the arms of another fascinating and clever friend, Kevin, aka Bean Town Berni. aka UI Awesome sauce. Digging breakfast tomorrow, for sure.
  • Another hour drive to Lowell, in mad rush hour I might add, and we realize we are full of the bad water, have none of the drinking kind, and are dirty and smelly. Hey Kevin, wanna snuggle?

—Travis is looking a bit pasty at this point, language head making not sense. 34 hours—

  • Maneuver down the tricky side streets of southern Lowell to the local Sewage Treatment Plant. They have free public dumps every day of the week!
  • Wait for ten minutes. No one is around. The smell of Lowell sewage wafts into our nostrils, makes a nest and camps out. Walter is infested with the stench.
  • Finally get a signal from First Boston accent guy to follow him. We promptly drop Walter’s drawers and let the earth reclaim its deposits. In the process, we spray our sandal, jeans, and faces with the deodorizing mix of grey and black water as the opening of the dump hole is two feet wide. Gotta keep a foot on that hose to keep it from squirming.

—T is dappled with hose ‘water’, and mumbling. I need to feed & put this guy to bed—

  • We have less than 1/8 a tank of propane left. Been nursing the last drops since you can only buy it from Uhaul’s around here. Apparently no one BBQ’s in East.
  • Maneuver back through traffic, listlessly around a traffic circle (ever tried that in a 31 footer?), and through a bridge. I say through because the bridge has been walled in on either side by concrete and gnarled fences. Single lane. No shoulder. We squeak through like a fat gerbil through a paper tube. Dammit, Walter.

—Travis is looking puffy (still handsome, but puffy). 35 hours. Exhausted—

  • Walmart looms ahead. There are no RV parks in Boston. Not even close. The ones that are ‘around’ are closed for another two weeks because of winter. Damn winter has stalked us all away around the effing country.
  • I feed my weak spouse some disgusting Kraft Dinner. We’re out of milk again which equals pasta the consistency of wet bread.

—His eyes gloss over as sleep begins to drug him. 36.7 hours—

  • It’s cold tonight. Which means more propane burned up. Thinking we might be waking up to gangrenous fingertips.

It’s 11:31pm. I’m sitting alone in the dark and Travis tosses in his sleep. The sewage smell has dissipated thanks to me painting everything with Febreeze. For some reason I’m not tired, even with the weight of this disastrous day digging into my shoulders. I guess I’m reflecting on this Dorothy-hit-by-a-tornado afternoon and wondering what the hell we were supposed to have gleaned from all of it.

It kind of felt like a monstrous test, you know? I’m hoping it’s not a precursor to crossing back into Canada. As in: You haven’t seen shit, Rachel. Things could get a lot worse. Where you gonna sleep for the next two weeks if the RV parks are closed?

Or maybe it’s just a bad day.

Still. I’m not sad. The low roar of a steam engine train pulling itself along the tracks like a tall, tired giant fills up my ears in the blackness. I get to be a part of his journey. It’s my story now.

I don’t regret a single day. Sleep tight, baby.

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