Travis’ last day at the ‘funny farm’ was Monday, and I’m pleased to report that we got him moved to his new apartment, where the IKEA furniture we put together last week was waiting for him. The move wasn’t too bad, but he did need help, since he really did have a ton of shit that accumulated over the 18 months he was living in El Monte.
The biggest problem was that he didn’t have any luggage to pack all his shit in. He had the one duffel bag he brought with him when he first moved there, but that was it. So he had to put the rest of everything in garbage bags. The big green ones. Only these weren’t the regular big green ones, they were extra large…and extra thick, which was good, since he loaded them up without lifting them to find out how much they weighed.
Actually he did lift at least one while he was packing on Sunday. And it was so dang heavy that it fucked his back up. It wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t walk or anything, but he also couldn’t carry much…which was a problem, because there was so much to carry on Monday.
I got permission to take the SUV to help Travis out with, since we discovered the day we went to IKEA that there’s a lot of room in the back if you fold the seats down. That still wasn’t going to be enough room for everything Travis had, and his Mini Cooper wasn’t gonna be much help, so, like Travis expected, we had to get one of the counselors at the funny farm into driving the funny farm van packed full of Travis’ shit.
The counselor dude – his name was Brandon – turned out to be super nice. Travis told me and Keaton a while ago that Brandon had been a very big help to him while he was getting his shit together…although driving a van full of garbage bags of Travis’ shit seemed to be me to be going beyond the call of duty. Especially as me and Brandon had to literally do all the heavy lifting.
“You know the apartment’s on the second floor, right?,” I asked Brandon as I helped him heave one of the garbage bags into the van.
I knew he wanted to say ‘oh shit’ – but he was on professional duty, so he couldn’t. I forget what he said instead…but it was pretty obvious what he was thinking lol.
Finally we got everything in the vehicles, Travis said good-bye to the staff, and gave them the moose he bought at IKEA. A few of them even came to wave him off as our caravan of the three cars headed off.
I could see that Travis was having some conflicting emotions. Not like he was fixin to cry or anything, but you could see that he was feeling a lot of shit. And he was probably a little sad to be leaving the funny farm. Yeah, he called it that, but, overall, he’s said mostly good things about the place, and it’s always hard to leave a place you like. Especially when you’re stepping into an unknown future, and this whole living by himself in an apartment thing really is an unknown future for Travis.
The drive from El Monte to Pasadena is about 30 minutes in midday traffic. Travis was cutting in and out of traffic on Rosemead Boulevard – I don’t want to say like a crazy person, but his driving looked pretty crazy to me – and of course he ended up getting there about thirty seconds before me and Brandon pulled up in our vehicles. Keaton sometimes gives me shit about driving like an old lady…fact is, Dad taught me to be a super safe driver…but I’m not about to start taking unnecessary risks with $150,000 worth of car that isn’t mine.
Once we got there, me and Brandon eyed the stairs up to the second floor and Travis’ apartment.
Travis had already taken a small box of shit from the Mini Cooper and was carrying it upstairs.
“Guess there’s no time like the present,” Brandon said to me. “Might as well start getting sweaty.”
It was probably 90° out. Sweaty was definitely what we were gonna get.
So we began with the overfilled trash bags. My biggest concern was that one of them was gonna break and then we’d be picking up Travis’ shit as it rolled down the stairs. Luckily that only happened once, and it happened once I had the bag inside the apartment. Then I discovered why the bag was so heavy: it was full of books that Travis had ordered from Amazon while he was on the funny farm. (Travis: “there was a lot of time to read…”)
“I guess you’ve gotten in your workout for today,” Travis said. “Thanks, man.”
“Hey, it’s no sweat.”
“That’s what you think,” said Brandon, coming upstairs with another one of the trash bags and breaking heavily. He’d sweated through his shirt, although I was pretty close to doing that myself. “I’m obviously not in the shape you’re in,” he told me.
“No one is,” said Travis. “Hunter looks like an underwear model. Don’t you watch him on TV?”
“I gotta admit I don’t,” the counselor said. “I hope that’s okay.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said. “It’s not like At Home with Maya is the most exciting thing on the TV. Although I’m getting my own segment once we come back from hiatus.”
“What’s it gonna be?,” Travis asked. “The pool boy workout?”
“Fuck you…and…yeah, you’re pretty close.” I can’t reveal what it is exactly yet, but I guess the cat got a little out of the bag with that. Hey, I was dizzy from dragging all that shit upstairs and not thinking about keeping secrets. “But neither of you can tell anyone. It’s being kept as a surprise.”
“Hey…who’d I tell?,” Brandon asked.
“You might have secret contacts in the TV industry,” I said with a laugh.
“Nope. Just a social work degree. I don’t know any glamorous people.”
“Well,” Travis said, “now you know Hunter.”
“I’m not glamorous,” I said.
“No, but you are on TV. That’s more exciting than anything I’ve done in the past 18 months.”
“Hey, don’t sell yourself short,” Brandon said to Travis, I reckon doing his job. “You achieved a lot in the time you were with us. You were in no condition to do anything when I first met you…and now you’re gonna be living alone and going back to school. 18 months ago no one would have trusted you to live alone.”
“He’s got a point,” I said. “I can see all the progress you’ve made, too. “
“It helps that they got the meds worked out again,” Travis said. “It was way too long that they weren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.”
“It’s more than just the meds,” the counselor said. “You’ve done the work too. You should be proud.”
“I know everyone’s been saying that for weeks…but what’s gonna happen when you leave and close the door and I’m alone?”
“You’re gonna start unpacking all this shit, for starters,” I said. “Unless you want to live surrounded by trash bags. That’s not why me and Keaton put together all that furniture. Go fill up your dresser and bookshelf, and Keaton’ll be home and probably make sure you get fed tonight. Do you have shit for breakfast tomorrow?”
“Um…no,” Travis said.
“Then you should head out to the Kroger and get some cereal or something.”
“Well…I’ve got the coffee pot and the coffee from IKEA.”
“They sell coffee at IKEA?,” Brandon asked.
“Yep,” I said. “There’s nothing they don’t have there. It’s pretty practical, though: they sell all those french presses, so they might as well sell the coffee to put in them.”
“Smart marketing,” he said, with a smile. (I could tell it was a smile since he took off his mask while we were sweating like pigs carrying those loaded trash bags up the stairs.)
“Just don’t fuck your back up any more than it’s already fucked up,” I said. “We’re going to need you tomorrow night.”
“Dude…it’s the season opener! First time the Parrots take the field in like 18 months. Don’t tell me you forgot!”
“Hunter,” Travis said, “I’ve kinda had other shit on my mind. I’m not even sure where my spikes are in all this mess.” He gestured to the trash bags.
“Well,” I said, looking at my good ole Swatch, “you’ve got about 28 hours to find them. You’ve got your new jersey, right?”
“That I’ve got. Dylan got it from Josh, and I think I know where I put it.”
“I’d offer to help you look for your spikes, but I’ve got a couple boys to go pick up. Maya doesn’t like them waiting…and I don’t blame her. I’d be pissed if I had to stand around after school after all the other kids got picked up.” I looked at Travis and the trash bags. “Good luck, man. I know you’re gonna make it. Once you do something about these fuckin bags.”
“I wish I were as sure as you are…”
“Everybody else is sure,” I said. “Ask Brandon.” Brandon nodded. “So you should be sure, too. Give me a call if you need anything. That’s anything, man – got it?”
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow night. We’re playing the Trash Pandas, and I’m gonna be disappointed if we don’t totally kick their asses.”
“You’re covered in left field,” Travis said. “Thanks for everything, man,” he said, extending his hand for me to shake. I shook his hand and kinda did a Keaton and kinda grunted instead of saying ‘you’re welcome’ lol.
“Thanks for all your help today,” said Brandon. I put out my hand for him to shake. He looked a little taken aback for a second, then said “oh what the hell” and shook my hand. I figured he and Travis needed to say their good-byes, and maybe there were papers or something for Travis to sign, so I left them together.
I’ve said it before, but I really do have a good feeling about Travis. He put on some weight at the funny farm, and y’all might not even recognize him from the dude me and Keaton had to go rescue from his brother’s wedding two Christmases ago. He looked so…maybe ‘breakable’ is the word…back then, and now he looks pretty sure of himself, no matter what he says about being worried about what’s gonna happen when he’s alone for the first time in nearly two years.
I just hope he hasn’t forgotten how to play softball. I guess we’ll find that out tomorrow night.
Assuming he finds his spikes in all that mess lol.