As Joe shaved and showered he thought about the logistics of their move. Misty’s five sisters were spread out between Hartford, Connecticut and Pawling, New York. Meghan, Peggy, Maura, Mary, and Madison had all grown up on Brewster Height’s hill and now painted a swath of D’Meiner eighty miles wide and forty miles high. In 1980 Misty had transformed the rectangle by moving the furthest distance. She had accomplished this first by moving to Washington D.C. right out of college and then, after having returned to the fold for four years, had skewed the rectangle even more by moving a thousand miles away from her parents’ home to Atlanta. Meghan, Misty’s eldest and dearest sister, had stayed closest, living in the town that she had called home since third grade.
Joe had moved most of his scant belongings to Tom and Meghan’s down in Brewster soon after Misty had left for Atlanta in January. He had no furniture but had slowly brought his clothes in boxes to their house and had deposited the last two of his six bicycles that he and Misty would be transporting down to Atlanta with them on Friday. Joe’s cycling collection had begun in June of 1980 with an inexpensive Ross Grande Tour II bike that he had purchased new. It was the only bike he owned that he hadn’t bought at Central Cyclery and it was by far the most modest. He had averaged one new bike per year since then but had purchased the last two that very May.
He’d started using a bike for transportation because it made financial sense but soon discovered how much fun riding was. He had gone on to buy a Trek 412 sport tourer, a Specialized Stump Jumper Sport XT, and a Santana Elan tandem from Barry Lack, the store’s owner. Following his last semester at Central Connecticut State and his gig as a student teacher he had worked the two and a half months leading up to his wedding day for Barry. With no expenses and biding his time until his new life in Atlanta commenced he’d spent virtually all his earnings by buying a Cannondale M400 mountain bike as a wedding present for Misty, a Specialized Allez SE racing bike for himself and a roof rack to accommodate hauling all their precious metals. Joe’s interest in bikes had escalated from casual to obsessive in the six years he’d been riding and now he spent most of his leisure time cycling. Physically, getting all those bikes to Atlanta was his greatest obstacle.
Getting to know Misty and her family had proven to be eye opening. After attending “He Who Gets Slapped” at Central together Misty and Joe had started dating in earnest. The play had coincided nicely with his twenty first birthday and Misty had given him a blue, technical fabric tee shirt that was supposed to wick moisture away from the wearer during exercise. It was a pretty color and Joe was ecstatic to have not only Misty’s presence for the show but also a present from her celebrating his birthday. It hardly seemed fair that she would have to wait another five months before he could reciprocate and give her something for her twenty second birthday.
The play was unexceptional but Joe found it fascinating. In addition to the Theatre as Literature course he was taking Wednesday nights with Misty he was also enrolled in Theatre 101 and his professor had adapted the “Slapped” script which he also produced and directed.
When the show was done Joe went to the concession window with Misty and bought her a size medium “He Who Gets Slapped” gray vee neck tee shirt. “Thanks for going with me,” he said. “I bought you this to remember the show by,” he added, handing her the tee.
“Oh! You didn’t have to do that!” she said kissing his cheek. “It’s your birthday! What do you want to do next?”
“Well, my birthday’s not until Monday, but thank you for my shirt. I wouldn’t mind seeing you again then? If you don’t mind?”
“No, Joe. I don’t mind a bit. And thank you for your shirt too. I like it. Especially the back! ‘Drama for Life, 1982’! Do you think they know that has a lot of different meanings?”
“I don’t know, I just know that mine seems better with you around. Where do you want to go?”
By the time the first of May rolled around Joe and Misty were spending all their spare weekend time together and whatever other time they could squeeze in during the week. Misty asked Joe to accompany her to her sister Peg’s second marriage on June twelfth and Joe excitedly acceded to her request. It was that weekend that Joe had met the D’Meiner clan and first set foot in Tom and Meghan’s house on Blueberry Hill.
When Misty had invited Joe to her sister’s wedding she had felt it necessary to explain a few things to him. “Peggy is the D’Meiner black sheep. She’s definitely a free spirit and there are some things that might come up that you’ll want to steer clear of: Land mines.”
“Wellll, her arrest for one thing.”