“Life’s gonna suck when you grow up, when you grow up, when you—” the husband sang to his wife as she dangerously darts between cars on the freeway. She’s angry at the situation, but the husband’s crappy rendition of Denis Leary’s comedy song from the nineties is starting to make her smile.
Did I title this The Never Journey? Maybe I should have called it the never-ending journey.
Let me back up a bit. I’ll start by saying: I love my wife.
Still, by Einstein’s definition of insanity, performing the same action and expecting different results, she’s possibly certifiable. I promise it’s one of her endearing qualities, more a result of her never ending optimism than something to consult a shrink about.
So now that I’ve acceptably buffered this entry with enough husbandly praise to keep her from looking up a divorce attorney, I’ll let you know two things about her that to this day make me smile, or beat my head against the dashboard of the car as we rocket down the freeway, which ever image you prefer.
- She has exceptionally optimistic expectations of what can be accomplished in 15 minutes.
- She has a great deal of faith that leaving expensive electronic devices in precarious places will not result in damage to that device.
So we return to the beginning. I took Friday and Monday off work this week to travel down to Oregon and assist my father-in-law with the renovations of a bathroom. I got off work on Thursday around 3:30, headed home. It’s about a three and a half hour journey. The wife and kid were packed, but we have 2 dogs and 4 cats, so getting the house hold responsibilities in line before we could leave was a bit of a chore.
Now, her expectation was that we would be in Oregon by 7:30. I don’t really know where that time frame came from, but I usually assume she is accounting for a time machine and small army of minions I don’t know about when she sets these expectations. When we hit the road at 6:30, I got the distinct impression that she was not a happily married woman. I admit, I wasn’t the fastest to pack.
My step son and I attempt to hide our distress as she barrels down the rain slicked freeway. We have learned that she can smell fear when her driving makes us aware of our fragile mortality, best to act as though nothing is wrong, or she will drive faster.
We hit traffic. The child and I pretend we aren’t relieved. I’d bet my wife that we wouldn’t hit gridlock because we were leaving on a Thursday, but you know what? She wasn’t the slightest bit happy about winning that bet. Go figure.
Anyhow, we feed her, and she feels better after eating. Accepts the reality of time and travel velocity and all those other laws of physics she’d forgotten. It’s amazing what low blood sugar can do to all those expectations.
Now, a couple things are happening with me during this journey:
- I’m reading this book: Write Publish Repeat by the guys who host the Self-Publishing Podcast. Recommended to me by a helpful fellow blogger.
- I’m trying to come up with short story ideas because they elude me.
- I’m getting annoyed with the child.
So the kid is in the back seat playing Minecraft on his ipod while we sit in traffic.
I explain to him that I am reading and can’t listen to a conversation and read at the same time. No seriously, multitasking is something I can do at work but I am completely incapable of it when reading. Anyhow, when he yet against starts rambling on about some story while he plays his game I turn to him and say, “that’s it!, give me the ipod.”
“It’s easy for you to play video games and talk at the same time while it is impossible for me to read and listen at the same time. It’s only fair. Pick the game or conversation; since you aren’t letting me read I’m not going to let you do both.”
Just so you know, I’m aware I am being a jackass at point in the story. You’ll just have to imagine trying to read while a child speaks at length with no regard to the fact that you’ve told him you are trying to read. I cracked when he began a 15 minute documentary on how he is “trending” at school by creating some type of earring fashioned out of a pink eraser. (Don’t get it? Yeah well, you’d had to of heard the other fourteen and a half minutes of explanation… sound exciting?)
Sufficed to say, he cared more about playing Minecraft than talking the moment his electronics were taken away.
Now, onto the short story. I’ve written a novel and it’s nearing a publication date, but as I’m likely going the indie route, I’ve been trying to come up with short stories I could use to get people interested in my “brand.” Yes, I hate that word as much as your do. I prefer longer stories so this has been a bit of a chore. Anyhow, I finally had a good idea for a dystopian comedy short I could release and being trapped in a car was causing an explosion of creativity. More on that in later post.
My wife has been telling me about this book The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (@PatrickRothfuss) that she wants me to read because she says the author’s voice reminds her of me. So, she starts playing the audio book. Immediately I think, This sounds nothing like me. This guy’s prose blows me out of the water. Still, I can see that the sense of humor is similar. Anyhow, I’m now torn between listening to the audio book and my new found creative explosion and eventually find myself lost in the plot as I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Luckily, I have my wife fill in the gaps I’ve missed.
Around this time we hit Portland. My wife calls her mom and we decide to pick her parents up and take them to their car (parked near the airport). Now remember at this time (yay another bulleted list!):
- I’ve been awake for 17 hours.
- We are in a ford focus.
- We have 3 people, our bags, and 2 dogs (a Doberman and a Border Collier in the car)
- We are picking up 2 more people and another dog!
So when we get to the airport, the child and I step out and wait at the arrivals with my father-in-law and one of the dogs. My wife and mother-in-law go to get the other car.
After a half hour we realize something is amiss. They should have returned by now. Weird thing about me; when things start going extremely wrong, I light up. I suddenly start feeling adventurous. So if you are imagining me fuming at the airport, it’s not the case. I was tired, but this was entertaining.
Turns out my wife locked her keys in the car, with the engine running, and the Doberman and Border Collie still in the car. They’ve spent the last ten minutes trying to get our very intelligent Border Collie (Darwin) to work the door lock. I know it sounds silly but the dog is wicked smart, you’d have to meet him. Its midnight, fruitless shenanigans with AAA play out, while my mother-in-law returns to retrieve us from the airport.
Now my wife is very resourceful, especially with cars. So she calls me with a good news/bad new story.
- Good news: found wire and got door unlocked.
- Bad news: was holding iphone against the windshield while attempting to do so and windshield wiper knocked phone out of hand and shatter screen (see previous note about precarious place to leave expensive electronic device).
Still, we are on the road again. Two cars, five people, and three dogs. Two hours later, roughly 2 in the morning, we are three miles from destination when we come across a woman stranded on the side of the road. That’s right, the story isn’t over.
At this point I’ve been awake for 22 hours and I am pushing a Mustang uphill to the shoulder of a dark forest road. The lady had hit a tree and then tried to drive the car to a garage, but the radiator had been damaged and all the water had drained out. My in-laws are the salt of the earth, and would never leave a person in this predicament even if they’ve been on flights all day and have been awake as long as I have. Her battery is dying so we park in the way of oncoming traffic and put our emergency lights on.
Eventually we make it home. I slept till 10 am the next day. Can’t remember the last time I slept past 6.
Was any of that relevant to your existence? No, but I wanted to tell you all about it anyway. So I am sitting in the only restaurant around for miles typing this up. See you all when I get back to civilization.