I’ll have a week’s schedule out tomorrow. I can’t do it tonight. Perhaps I can play upon your sympathy?
I went and visited two of my sisters this weekend. This sisterly-bonding trip was not as relaxing as it might sound. I’m not going into it. Well, if you run into me personally and ask, I’ll explain, and then you’ll feel awkward and sorry that you asked. So, whatever. I was hoping to be back by late afternoon/early evening, and I’d planned to pull together the weekly post then.
Instead, I’ve just finished approximately 12 hours in the car. The first stretch was with my sisters. We were all rather exhausted, and there was a great deal of traffic as well as rain. Then we arrived at our first destination, where I had to switch to driving my own car by myself. In the approximately 5 minutes it took to open my sister’s car, remove my belongings, and transfer them to my vehicle, I managed to lose her keys. Darkness was rapidly descending and I was becoming increasingly frantic. It seemed quite possible that I was just so tired that I’d opened my clenched fist and allowed the key to drop out of my hand somewhere on the front lawn. It took, gosh, 15 or 20 minutes for my brother-in-law to find the key; it had slipped in that little opening on the seat where the seat belt buckles jut out. By this time it took a quite a bit of energy to keep from bursting into tears, and I wondered if God or Someone was telling me to spend the night. But tomorrow will be my last full day before the family returns, and I wanted to wake up in my own bed. My sister packed two brownies and some fruit for me to take on the road, and I was off.
As soon as I got started, I remembered that I’d had trouble with the interior-dashboard lights in the car, and while I struggled with it, I called cute W for advice. He remembered–oh, yeah!–that there seemed to be an electric short of some sort. I was on the phone with him, navigating unfamiliar streets in the dark, and felt really quite unable to switch lights off and on as he suggested at the same time. I explained this to him as if he were one of my children in the hyper-calm voice that I use when I feel that Completely Losing My Shit is imminent. I hung up and, luckily, was able to call him back moments later to report that his suggestions had worked. Of course, now I knew that poor W would be fretting until I could check in with him from home, but he would fret anyway, because he knows that I hate to drive. I’m just a Nervous Nelly. For most of the time that I’m driving, I’m consumed by the notion that a car is just a big, scary weapon. I am constantly expecting it to swerve out of control or burst into flames. Yes, I know: it’s no way to live.
Moments later, my GPS system, whom I affectionately call Garmina, informed me that she had a low battery even though she was plugged in. Ummm, panic. It was all connected. For the remainder of the trip, the dash lights would periodically disappear, leaving me to turn my lights off and on frantically as if I wanted to warn oncoming cars about cops, which was usually accurate, because they seemed to be everywhere. Also, my A/C would periodically cut out, and then I’d open my windows, and then the windshield would fog up, and then I’d stab at the A/C button frantically, and then it would kick in again. . . for a while.
Tremendous traffic continued on the major highway, so rather than ignoring her as I usually do on this trip, I followed Garmina’s advice to take the country road. Wet, winding, and dark. And then there was a detour. Garmina was in denial about the detour. I, too, was in denial. Eventually, Garmina, the highway system, and I were able to agree on an appropriate course.
When I finally managed to reach the NY State Thruway, I decided to reward myself by switching from contacts to glasses and buying some caffeine. Would you believe that I arrived at the Starbucks just in time to get in front of the we’re-closing-so-just-go-away-security-gate? Oh, happy day. I was the last customer of the weekend. In celebration, I said yes to whipped cream. I knew that two brownies and a Frappucino probably weren’t the best combination for optimal well-being, and this was confirmed over the next hour of stomach churning. Tomorrow I’ll detox.
Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, I started the engine and it coughed and died. Oh, yes it did. I don’t know. I just sat for a minute, reminded myself that at least I was at a rest area, & told The Universe firmly, “This is not happening.” Tried again, and The Universe conceded the point. Thank you. I drove over to get gas, became frantic that the man near me was smoking, then realized that he was eating a giant popsicle. Considered that panicky and possibly hallucinatory was probably a bad way to drive home; dismissed it and continued driving.
Maybe fifteen minutes away from my house, Garmina said something like (and I’m paraphrasing here): “You should absolutely go in this other way which is not the right direction.” She didn’t actually say this because I’ve muted her. This is because when I take a wrong turn and she says things like “Recalculating. . . ” and “Make a U-turn if possible”, I feel judged. I think that the makers of GPS systems should include some more encouraging phrases, things like, “You’re doing great so far” and “Now you’re back on the right track.” Since she doesn’t ever give me the emotional support I crave, I mute her. Anyway, I can’t explain exactly what happened. Was she impacted by the electrical short? Did I misread her signals? I don’t know. But I’ve already established (ad nauseum, I fear) that I have no sense of direction. I have no instinct whatsoever. In fact, my instincts are almost invariably wrong, but not in a reliable way. You’d think that I could just say, “I think it’s left, so I’d better go right,” but there’s no discernable pattern–I’m usually wrong, but not absolutely always. So I followed Garmina, although it felt wrong, and she led me astray. There was a humiliating u-turn, followed by excessive time spent at red lights I should have avoided.
Five minutes away from home I was driving slightly too fast, windows open, singing along to Sheryl Crow in a mixture of euphoria at the homecoming and anxiety that something would be wrong. I don’t know if any of you experience this, but I spend the last ten minutes of most car trips fearing that I’ll find my house burglarized or my cat dead. Thus far, I’d beaten the odds, so inappropriate loud singing helped to ward off that final burst of panic.
I’m home, the cat is glad to see me, the house is no more disheveled than when I left it, and after this cathartic post, I’m going straight to bed.