Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Just the wrong side of comfortable
Last night I had an adventure. Who has adventures on a Monday night you ask. Me, that's who. It was not the kind I prefer, like how an unplanned happy hour with friends after work rolls into VIP backstage passes at an exclusive concert that then ends in a sunrise breakfast at the singer's penthouse suite. This adventure was born of tragedy and familial duty.
My uncle is in a hospital with a tight, one handed grasp on life. He's very, very slowly recovering from a fire that about a week ago claimed all of his and his late mother's belongings. My mother, the ever faithful sister and daughter, drove to Little Rock to see about him, sign any papers that need signing, and just be there for her one and only brother. My dad rode with her to Little Rock at the end of last week. They rented a car to do this. That would prove problematic when my dad came home Sunday night on the Greyhound and the rental car needing to be back by Tuesday afternoon. And this is how my Monday evening became an adventurous one.
My mom called and asked me to pick up her prescriptions because my dad was going to meet her in Texarkana to trade cars. I told her I would pick them up. She then asked for some other things, clothes, facial cream, etc. I could tell she wasn't really paying attention, she kept repeating things and her voice sounded distant like she was trying to remember how to live everyday life. It made my heart sink and the anxiety I've been stuffing down since last week rise up and threaten to steal my voice. I knew I couldn't let it do that, for her sake. I knew if I lost it, she might too. I took a deep breath and reassured her I would get everything she needed.
Ninety minutes later, my dad and I, clothes and meds in tow, on an otherwise ordinary Monday night, headed out into the darkness to have an adventure. I drove first, as I was already awake but my day was wearing on me and I knew if I slept I wouldn't want to drive later. The drive there was pretty good. My mom's car is new, like less then six months new and fully loaded. As my dad slept, I let the 80s on 8 XM station take me to my childhood over and over again with songs I, surprisingly, remembered most of the words to. Sleep hit me pretty hard about thirty miles from State Line Ave, our exit that would take us to the agreed upon meeting place, and I started to dance to the music to stay awake. I also started to think about all of the road trips I'd taken over the years.
My dad started to wake and I remarked to him how it always seemed to be me and him in cars on trips. He drove me to my college orientation at Texas Tech way back when I was freshman in college. The two of us drove to Chicago to christen my brand new subcompact car when I was in film school. We talked about that car, the Silver Bullet, and how I put all but 300 of the 154,000 miles it lived to gain. We also talked about it's tragic death, by broken timing belt, and how if I'd gotten it changed at 150,000 miles like I was supposed to I would probably still be driving it. We talk about the road trip vacation we took to Virginia to visit my kamp friends, and the drive home from Cleveland one summer after a family reunion, and the many, many trips to my Grandmother's house my mom and I took the year before she passed away. I thought a lot about the time we have spent in cars and on the road and how I never once regretted a single minute of it.
We did start a little late and had to stop for food so we were pressed for time but my mom's new car is a turbo, and I was driving so w e made to Texarkana with minutes to spare . My mom got lost getting to the redevue, which irritated my dad but I understood. I knew she was not thinking straight, she's a worrier, like her mother. We exchanged hugs and made sure all the stuff I'd brought was what she need. My cousin, my uncle's only daughter rode with my mom so she and I chatted about brothers and Georges in our family. My grandfather's name was George, my uncle's name is George, her brother's name is George, and my brother's name is George. They are all interesting characters and have done a thing or three that has made us frustrated with them. My parents chatted about work, medical bills, and wether or not to seek cautionary legal advice.
We said our reluctant goodbyes, got in each other's car and started back to our destinations. My mom and cousin immediately started to Little Rock. I curled up in the front seat and nodded off. My dad took fifteen minutes to figure out the car, what all the button did, how to work the radio, how to pair the phone to the car for hands free calls, and how to charge his phone before starting back home.
I spent the next three hours semi-conscience, Nancy Wilson, Whitney Houston, and Patti Labelle lulling me back to sleep after each bump in the road nudged me far enough away from sleep for me to be aware that the car we rode in was just on the wrong side of comfortable. One bump woke me to a phone call my parents were having about my uncle and how because all his papers had been destroyed, it was hard to know who to call for what and what bills needed to be paid. Another jarring brought me to a parking lot and my dad hurriedly exiting the car, muttering something about a bathroom. I noticed the tightening and dull ache in my back and decided I would probably never buy this car given the choice.
Soon enough after an interesting stop to fill up on gas, in which my dad pressed all the buttons and pulled all the levers in the car to try to open the gas flap, I felt the familiar backing into our driveway that meant we had make it. Though it didn't end with an introduction to a celebrity I've been wanting to meet since childhood, our adventure ended without event. I crawled into bed hoping the next three hours would feel like eight.
There is a 5-hour energy staring me down on my desk, wondering why I have not taken it yet.
My brain is wondering why I didn't buy two when I had the chance.