We Went Off: The Epilogue (#9)

For earlier parts of our tale, see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8.

I was driving, so I noticed it first, and tried to remember which dashboard light was on as I asked LCB a question that will likely go down in Island Family infamy, “Wait honey, what does that light mean again?”

I won’t repeat the next thirty seconds of our exchange since someone’s already borrowed it for a premarital counseling segment on “What Not To Say in Marriage During Moments of Tension.”

I eased the minivan over to the side of the road. By now, the whole vehicle was tilting toward the driver’s side.

Oh joy, our back driver’s side tire was flat.

Perhaps this wouldn’t have been as much of a drama if A). we didn’t have hundreds of miles to go that night, B). it wasn’t evening, when many tire shops were either closed or closing soon, C.) our tires weren’t relatively new and still under warranty in case we could find a nearby location at the chain store we’d purchased them from, D). it wasn’t raining, and E). that thing that happened back when we were in Colorado Springs hadn’t happened.

You probably want to know about that thing that happened in Colorado Springs.

Well, see, in her zeal, while loading the back of the minivan a week earlier, one anonymous member of our family had wrenched the door handle off the back hatch.

This was awesome.

Even more awesome? The back door of our minivan has no inside handle. And the awesomest thing about screwing up something like a door handle is that you get to be reminded of your mistake again and again, via facial expressions and heavy, guttural-sounding sighs, every time your spouse needs to access the back of the vehicle.

This happens a lot when you are on vacation moving from one hotel to the next. It also happens, it turns out, when you are by the side of the road and need to access the spare.

We worked parallel paths, calling for towing service (in case the spare situation ended badly) while trying to unload every piece of luggage from the back of the minivan by way of the side doors. By the end, LCB looked not unlike a massively larger version of this

100_2518as he struggled to remove the last pieces of luggage and then remove the spare.

And remember, this was all at the side of a busy interstate.

Then I heard, “Find me a rock, woman!” as he eased himself down by the flat tire.

I hate it when he says that.

I hate it when LCB makes me rummage through nature or litter for objects to use to fix things like vehicles, houses, chronic diseases, etc. I have boundaries when it comes to jerry-rigging.

LCB does not.

I don’t even want to know what he did with the rock I found him, but there he was, rain and sweat pouring down his face as he worked the flat tire off and replaced it with the spare.

We had already determined that there was a store a few miles away with the correct replacement tire, but it was also closing in a few minutes, so LCB literally threw the luggage back in the minivan and we backtracked, carefully scanning the road for the tire store. When we located it, I called and canceled our tow while LCB pulled into the parking lot.

Despite the fact we showed up right at closing, one of the mechanics offered to put the tire on for us while we waited in the lobby. At one point, I looked across the room to see Baby-Girl doing this.

IMG_8523Not much else happened during the rest of the trip, except I did discover that Country Inns, a hotel I’ve never stayed in before, has cookies sitting out in the lobby at all hours of the day and night.

Seriously, it’s important to note that no one cares how many you take.

I really wanted to end this series with the newsworthy Country Inn cookies discovery, but I guess there’s that whole “coming back new” thing looming overhead from my first post of the series.

The long and the short of it is I didn’t come back new.

I wanted to; it’d make for a great ending for the series and for real life, after all. But that’s not what happened. There was no rebirth, no baptism, no new Christine that emerged. So I’ve sat on this series for a while, on this last post of the series in particular, waiting for some sort of takeaway, hoping it would come after a little time and distance.

But nothing came. I sat for an hour last week, staring at the salt marsh, watching the tide recede faster than it came in, trying to figure out how to end the story, because stories need endings. But I wanted the takeaway to be authentic, not conjured by wishful thinking. By low tide, I had nothing, so I moved on to other things.

Then yesterday, still with no idea how to end this, I was sitting talking with Baby-Girl and, at her prompting, we started talking about the trip we hope to take next year to the Southwest. I asked her what her favorite thing was about the trip we’d already taken.

“I don’t know,” she answered, fumbling for a minute with her words. “We did so many fun things on that trip.” She hemmed and hawed again for a minute, and then it came.

“That trip was the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

So the takeaway? While I was busy bemoaning transmission problems and battling agoraphobia and berating the cold, my little girl was busy doing the funnest thing she’s ever done.

And I got to watch her do it.

Beats coming back new any day.

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Coffee with Christine: Recapping the Summer of 2014

It’s time for more caffeine and some summer highlights.

In June, in addition to our trip out West, we faked a Disney trip. Budget constrains, time constrains, and maternal constraints (I love Disney, but I don’t do Disney in the summer) didn’t allow park attendance, but when LCB had business nearby for a few days, we decided to join him and spend one afternoon and evening at Downtown Disney. The small people brought their money to add to a small parental contribution, and we made all we could out of the Disney and Lego stores.

IMG_8543IMG_8542Then, we ate dinner at the T-Rex Cafe. Our children realized they were not in the parks, of course, but it was a fun alternative all the same. And hey. It beats the real person I knew in Chicago who really did, when her small children said they wanted to see the real Florida, drive them to Wisconsin instead and say, “Okay kids, here’s Florida!”

Let that one soak in for a minute.

100_8464We spent a few days in July back at the old island.

100_8208100_8246100_8224The largest part of our time was spent at the beach,

100_8447100_8421waiting for the next wave.

Life was good on our island.

IMG_8723IMG_8730A stomp rocket birthday present for one of the boys led to a July evening spent at a nearby park stomping, a pursuit that baffled Baby-Girl. “Why do they have to keep doing it?” she asked after an hour of stomping, boredom, and the stunning revelation that life is not entirely about oneself. “It does the same thing every time!” she moaned. And thus she began to realize the world of men is something few outside the gender understand.

And finally, on a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, with the small people secure in their beds feigning sleep, LCB and I stepped out on the deck, intent on enjoying a nightcap and the breeze coming in off the marsh.

It is not hyperbole to say I will be eternally grateful that I did not sit down on the chair I usually sit on at night, but instead chose the rocker. It was dark, and as we sat and talked for a minute, I realized I needed something inside.

I have no earthly idea what that thing was, because when I stood up, I noticed an unusual shape on the top of my usual chair. I stared for a moment. “Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I think there’s a snake on that chair,” I told LCB.

IMG_8787So, while I continued to make the letter H sound, we turned on the deck light, went inside and stood by the window closest to the chair, and realized our snake looked a great deal like a copperhead. Of course, I immediately recalled my pediatrician’s comment regarding copperheads: “You won’t die from their bites, but you’ll wish you had,” and began imagining tiny, undiscovered holes in our house that the snake might be able to slither through. When I regained my ability to form additional letter sounds again, I warned LCB, “Don’t go out there wielding a shovel or any other form of weaponry unless you have backup. And since it’s a snake, I’m not backup.”

I don’t do snakes.

Fortunately, more inspection and a little research led us to believe it was probably a corn snake, a very snakish snake but one without the capacity to send you to the ER. We even interrupted our sons’ fake sleeping (Baby-Girl’s seemed real) to call them down to see the snake. Lest you think that because we live on a salt marsh, we must see them regularly, that’s not the case; we’ve only seen one other snake in our tenure here. Thus, they were mildly impressed and happy to avoid fake-sleeping for a few more minutes.

And so, our summer of adventure has come to a close and we return to a life of schedules and textbooks and stunning scholastic revelations like, “You’re the only Mom in the entire school that makes her kids pack their own lunches.”

That’s okay; it’s all good.

***

Up next: The epilogue of We Went Off and back-to-school miscellany

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Thoughts on the Sea #9

Shrimp Boat 2100_5865The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible,

100_0535but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.

Vincent Van Gogh

For other sea quotes, try #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8.

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