By Ben |

Jessie and I are both sick with a cold right now.  The last time this happened was over six months ago, just at the time we moved to Emporia.  In the intervening six months I didn't get sick even once, even though Jessie brought home a variety of ailments from the University, especially in January... but back to last August.  It was a cold of truly marvelous speed and severity and contagiousness, and it hit us at a pivotal time in our lives, and the story has not yet been properly told.  So here it is, based on the notes I took at the time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

While I was finishing up my final packing and cleaning at my apartment in Fairfield, Jessie and her brother Josh were driving over from Omaha.  I had been hoping U-Haul would assign me a truck in Ottumwa, only 20 minutes' drive away, but when the call finally came, the truck was in Coralville, about an hour away, and the friend I was relying on to get me there couldn't spare two hours on such short notice.  I called Jessie and asked her and Josh to pick up the truck on their way.  They weren't happy about the change of plans, but agreed it was the best solution.  By the time they arrived in Fairfield, I was already feeling a cold coming on.  We had a hearty steak dinner at George's and then loaded all my stuff into the truck before dark.  Gotta love those long summer days!

Not only was this likely the point when I gave the cold to Jessie, but it's also when Jessie realized the truck was not going to be big enough for her stuff as well as mine.  I had intentionally got the smallest truck I thought could fit both our stuff to save gas while driving it to Omaha half empty, and I figured we'd pick up a trailer in Omaha to handle the excess, but in my cold-addled state I hadn't fully communicated this plan to Jessie, so she got kind of grouchy as I recall.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

After breakfast at Second Street, Josh drove back to Omaha.  Jessie and I went to a wonderful going-away party thrown by my friend Kathy.  I was already feeling quite sick by this time.  I don't remember the details of which symptoms happened when, but I remember they were unusually intense for a cold and cycled through unusually quickly.  We had dinner at Small Planet, and I had soup in a belated attempt to treat the cold.  Then we had dessert with Brian at the ice cream stand near his house.  So far Jessie wasn't feeling any symptoms.  At some point during the day it came out that Jessie was worried we wouldn't have enough space, so I called U-Haul in Omaha and reserved a trailer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

First thing in the morning, we drove the 5 hours to Omaha (by way of the American Gothic house) and picked up the trailer.  I was feeling much better and did a lot of the driving; Jessie was starting to feel symptomatic.  When Jessie saw the trailer I'd reserved, she broke down -- it was not big enough... her parents would have to move her stuff in their van, and they had enough on their plate already, and... I asked for a larger trailer, and the nice U-Haul folks gave it to us for no extra charge.  I can't blame her for despairing, though... if I had still been sick I would have felt the same way!

Jessie's parents brought take-out dinner to Jessie's apartment, and we loaded the truck and trailer until about 11 PM.  Jessie was so sick by this point that she couldn't help move things.  Jim and Debbie and I must have made 30 or more trips apiece.  Then we drove with the fully-loaded truck and trailer to Jim and Debbie's home in Manley, NE, and crashed for the night.  It was of course at this point that we gave the cold to both Jim and Debbie, unless we had already given it to Josh days before, in which case he gave it to them.  In any case, it was only a matter of time before they fell to it as well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Closing day!  We had set this date months before when we first made our offer on the house, having no idea that we would be deliriously ill when the day arrived.  But I was feeling relatively clear-headed, and Jessie was able to help drive.  We drove the 4 hours to Emporia and got our home insurance.  We met our Realtor and went on a walk-through of the house... hadn't it had curtains in the windows and wall plates on the outlets and light switches when we'd seen it before?  Hadn't those been part of the contract?  Joel said he would see what he could do about getting the curtains back, and promised to reimburse us for the missing wall plates.

The closing was a surreal experience -- five people around a table in a small room, three of whom knew exactly what they were doing and two of whom were just watching the show go by.  I think I may have asserted an opinion or two, resulting in troubled glances, but for the most part I just agreed to everything and signed on the lines.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for Jessie, who was barely conscious.  In any case, it turned out OK.

Both sets of parents, plus Josh, arrived in late afternoon, and we went to dinner at Bobby D's, Jessie's favorite restaurant from her college days.  Then we unloaded the trailer and truck in an astonishingly short length of time.  What a difference it makes to have 7 people instead of 3!  We spent a very pleasant first evening in the house, enjoying the porch swing and the warm summer breezes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I woke at about 4:00 in the morning to the sound of pouring rain in the downspout near my head.  I had noticed during the walkthrough that the extension cord on the sump pump in the basement had been removed, such that the pump was not plugged in.  I decided to go down and take a look.  I found the basement 3 inches deep in dirty water.  I must have made some noise, because within minutes everyone else was awake and looking down the stairs.  I waded into the water, barefoot, to see what was going on, and found that the water was gushing out of the toilet bowl.  The water I was ankle-deep in was city sewage!  Jessie found an extension cord, and I plugged the pump in and washed my feet, and we all went back to bed for a few hours.  At this point Josh and Debbie were starting to feel symptoms of the cold.

By the time we got back up, the pump had removed all the water from the basement, leaving behind a residue reminiscent of chocolate pudding.  After a hearty breakfast at the Village Inn and a stop at Sutherlands to get tools and supplies to clean the basement with, we sent the families home in the hopes that my Mom & Dad wouldn't yet have caught the cold.  But Dad is extraordinarily prone to catching colds, and before the week was out they had both come down with it as well.

Back to the present -- this cold is not as quick-moving as that one, nor as predictable.  My symptoms have been different from Jessie's, so we may actually have two different colds and be giving them to each other.  But the thing about getting sick together is, it beats being sick alone!  Or on an airplane, or a Greyhound bus.  If I have to get sick, I'd much rather it be at home with the woman I love.

And here's hoping we didn't give the cold(s) to Mom & Dad this past weekend...