Let's take a teenager who has a quite rigid sense of how things should be and relies on that not just to stay peaceful-easy feeling but for his general sense of the world not descending into chaos and fragments.
Let's say his parents conclude they need to head to California, with a view to his many needs as he approaches adulthood and his mother's extended family all living out there rather than on the East Coast.
Let's say this relocation coincides with the beginning of the Winter Break, a time when he usually goes slightly to pieces because he doesn't have school, his stalwart source of extra-household stability. Let's say, on the last day of school, he starts in tears and ends in smiles and good-byes.
Let's dismantle his beloved bike (and his dad's) and put them in boxes and ship them away.
Let's pack up every single thing that his parents decide not to give away, recycle or throw out into boxes. Boxes and boxes.
And boxes. Sealed with the screeching tear-sound of packing tape.
Let's have the weather go weird as ever, rising to yoyo record highs of 70 degrees F atthe winter solstice after a week of three snowstorms.
Let's have his mother alternating putting random kitchen items into the crevices of boxes with writing for a stepped-up deadline because Christmas is on a Wednesday.
Let's have him spend the first Monday of Winter Break when he's not in school with preoccupied parents and a farewell to his longest-time aide/ABA therapist/sitter/home speech therapist/school therapist.
Let's have his dad rent a rental car from the rental car chain that is nowhere near the airport because it's Christmas and all the other chains have already rented all the cars). Let's have it pouring rain when they approach the airport ('airport, airport' he calls ardently and they struggle to explain that they're just getting a rental car, whatever a 'rental car') is. Let's have them drive right by the rental car place but, being on the wrong side of a concrete barrier on Route 9, they can't get to it.
Let's have them drive back into the airport with his mom playing Google Map instructions.
Let's have them drive back again into the airport because Google Map doesn't realize that New Jersey state roads are New Jersey state roads.
Let's have his mom just look at the map on Google Maps and deduce that they are going in the right direction (south towards Elizabeth) but they are a bit away and they need to veer right maybe on this service road sort of thing?
Let's be thankful his dad loves driving in New Jersey, ascertains that they could drive right by the rental car place again, drive the valiant black car over the cconcrete barrier, proceed pass the Anheuser Busch plant (leading his mom to look up at the neon sign with the eagle and the A and remember how often they saw the sign just like it on Highway 40 in midtown St. Louis and reminisce about Pestalozzi Street which is in downtown St. Louis where the Anheuser Busch, Clydesdale sign and all, is to be found) and voila, into the parking lot of 'remember the Alamo' rental car. (That's what his dad said after calling all the other rental car places and hearing 'no we don't have any cars.')
They get a maroon Chrysler ('I thought it was going to be a Toyota Camry,' says his dad. 'We always end up renting Chryslers,' says his mom.)
They drive, caravan-style to the Subaru dealership on Communipaw Avenue after a murky ride over the Pulaski Skyway (he gets a final ride in the black car). There, they say good-bye to the black car (his mom reminisces about a fairly awful moment he and her went through in and kind of out of it; save that for another post) and he calls to get in the 'pink car' and get spring rolls.
His favorite Vietnamese place, which he hasn't asked to go to since August, is closed on Mondays. So they go to what Mom calls the 'industrial strength' place which does have vegetarian spring rolls for him. They pass police action. His mom chides herself for wearing a black sweatshirt while attempting to jaywalk(run) in the evening across 10st street, just a ways from the Holland Tunnel.
He eats everything.
They go home. They pack.
He has recently discovered 'Hard Day's Night' and has been singing along most melodiously to 'If I Fell' and 'I'll Be Back.' Lots of pacing on his beat in the dining room (the green room that was never used as such; once it housed bookcases till Charlie knocked every one down a few years ago) and the kitchen, with spates of fierce, clomping, chortling, running. He really is a sprinter.
Let's say all that happens, all a glut of new, unexpected, out of the ordinary, not at all routine things. He's supposed to have fallen to pieces roughly around Friday evening or at least over the weekend.
There has been lack of sleep, too many trips to get hamburgers and the use of emergency medication which might be rather more accurately called pre-emptive emergency medication because, as his parents have learned, it's too late to give the medication when he's having the emergency. He's worked through some tough spells, burst into tears a few times, seemed very reassured to hear that he's going to see Gong Gong and Po Po for Christmas. And Aunt Jen. And Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and California.
And his bike and his dad's. They've been rescued from the UPS facility in Oakland, reassmebled at the Berkeley bike shop his mom passed a millon times, and waiting in Charlie's own garage.