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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