I'm up to hobbling around now, which is a vast improvement over my mobility the last few days. I'm still having trouble switching between sitting and standing, but I can walk. If we were going to be camping this would be a serious problem, since zombies don't wait for you to get up slowly around the pain. Good thing for us we won't have to sleep outside.
My brother had a hand in designing the modifications to the vehicle we'll be taking, but the actual work was done by others. It's a beautiful thing, our rugged machine and trailer, but I don't want to go into details today.
As difficult as it is for me to walk around, I felt a strong urge to do it this morning. In a few days I'll be gone, and all I'll have of New Haven to sustain me while I'm away are memories. It struck me as I limped down the streets how the feeling of a place and its appearance can be so dramatically different. New Haven is being repaired and rebuilt in a hundred little ways (and a few large ones), but it still bears the scars of all the recent problems. Scorched earth where the fires nearly destroyed the inner wall. Houses with broken bricks from the heat. Craters outside the walls where bombs went off. Houses all over have had their exteriors stripped, patched, and modified in a dozen ways. It hardly looks like my old neighborhood at all.
That's a good thing, I guess. Our home is evolving into something new and better, changing along with us to meet the needs of our times. I watch men, women, and children scramble to finish so many tasks and projects, energetic and eager to a degree I'd have thought impossible last month.
I can't help but think of New Haven as a grizzled old cat--much like one of my own, Simon--battered and scarred from constant turmoil, but hale and strong and with a loving heart. I know that's a weird thought to have, but it hit my brain and had to go somewhere. There you go.
As I type this my pets (minus the ferrets, who are both outside in the garden hunting bugs and trying to climb the fencing to go explore) surround me. The dogs are laying at my feet. Alexander, my kitten (no longer, I notice--he's fully grown now) is perched on my shoulder. Nathaniel is sitting in my lap. Simon is curled up on my desk and looking at me like he wants to rip my face off. That's not unusual, he always looks like that.
I'll miss them almost as much as I'll miss Jess. With her it's an obvious thing, being my wife, best friend, and all that jazz. The difference is that she's a grown woman, a human being that can understand the rationale behind my trip, and can take solace in the company of friends in my absence.
My pets can't. They'll miss me, pine for me at least for a little while, and won't understand. I'll miss them too, more than is probably healthy. Through all the hard times, and that's what the last year and a half have been almost without a break, they've been there. When Jess was shot, I spent a lot of time worrying, crying, and my pets often whined along with me, laying their heads on my lap and offering what comfort they could give.
Wow. I really didn't mean to go on about my pets. I get emotional when I have to leave home, so I know you'll all forgive me. I'm just going to miss this place, every bit of it. Every person in it. We've all risked our lives together, done amazing things.
It's going to be strange for me not to hear the plaintive howls of New Haven's dogs at night, nor the low growls and deep barks that warn us of nearby undead. I won't be able to give Patrick a hard time or learn a new bit of medicine from Evans. I've been away before, but this is bigger and more involved than anything I've ever done. It's daunting, exciting, scary, and full of possibility.
As well as one certainty: I'll play back the memories each night as I lay down to sleep, from the faces of my brothers and sisters here to the pleasant rumble of a cat's purr, to give me comfort. It'll be the hope of coming home to make new ones that will keep me going.