I feel downright lucky on those -45 days when I don't have to get into a frozen solid vehicle to get to work, but believe me- when those balmy temps of -15 roll in, I'm ready and desparate to get out for some change of scenery. Not that its ever an effortless event. Everyone born of my flesh, flesh of my flesh, and cleaved unto my flesh, plus the better half of all children born of someone else's flesh, has gotten pretty darned used to me being here and serving them hand and foot through the rise and fall of seasons and an empire or two.
Wednesday night it was. Target departure: 5:35 pm. The last of the snack-munching, glue-smearing crew should be out by then. While setting them up with a craft, I would fry the bacon to go with the perogies that I would lovingly prepare for my brood, lest they should starve to death during my departure. Brian should be about done teaching his guitar student, and all the play dates and homework plans should be pretty much sorted out by then. I could quickly shower off the "essence of smoked pork" , and still make it out in plenty of time for supper with the gals.
Brian was none too thrilled about missing his gym time, but saw the wisdom in letting the unstable one out for a little refresher, so off I zoomed in my sporty family van. I took some country roads to drop Jane off at a friends, then made my way to pick up my sister from her country paradise. I was only 30 minutes off my targeted timeline.
That was before I attempted the precipitous drifts that lay between me and my goal. If you own a Dodge Caravan, you know about the serpentine belt. You know that it is mounted too close to the ground for us indomitable prairie folk, and with the slightest provocation, will throw its tiny belt arms up in the snowy air, and quit. And that, folks it just what happened.
I no longer had power steering. But such a small detail would in no way prevent me from my glorious outing. I cranked that baby HARD and got onto my sister's yard. We'd simply have to take her vehicle into the city, live in denial about mine till we got back- we'd be so refreshed by that point that it would surely feel like a small quest to conquer. But that was before we discovered that her car was stuck firmly in the snow. All our pushing and grunting and spinning were of no consequence. We'd need a man. A man with a four wheel drive, and a tow rope, and a good attitude.
That taken care of, we were only an hour and fifteen behind schedule.
The actual outing was fabulous. It was so devoid of complications, that its retelling is irrelevant in this context- Good greek salad and therapeutic group counsel. It all seemed worth the effort.
Heading home, we recognized that the time her car had spent hung up on a drift had deposited some snow in her wheel well which now acted as additional weights on the wheels. We shaked and shimmied the thirty minute ride home, a harsh reminder of the van problem that yet awaited us. I was frozen solid from sitting in a drafty restaurant corner, so before I attempted the power steering-less drive home, I had the foresight to deck myself out in snowpants, boots, scarf, and mitts. Kathy offered me her cell phone, but I optimistically waved her off, thinking I'd inconvenienced her enough for one 24 hour period. It was only a power steering problem after all, and anyone worth half my body weight would be able to turn that beast with just a little extra effort.
I made it a chilly mile and a half before my electronics began a forbidding dance. Lights on, lights off. Radio, no radio. Who knew that the serpentine belt also caused the alternater to do its job, and I was now running on an extraordinarily low battery... A battery without enough juice to work the hazard lights. Have to take my chances leaving the van on the side of the road, and hope that all large trucks would stay their course, and not slay me or my troublesome sports-mobile.
Those snowpants sure came in handy, walking alone in the dark down a busy highway in the night. Boy, was the guy at the strawberry farm ever happy to see me drop by at 11:00 pm to ask for a phone. He was so happy, he put his sorrels on over his jammie pants and drove me back out to the van to see if he could figure out what the deal was. The deal was : no deal. So, he cheerfully gave me a lift back to my sister's house, me clutching my precious milk and eggs that I needed from that van before tomorrow's early morning mania would hit me in the face.
"Sure woulda been nice to have a cell phone", I announced, tromping back into her kitchen, relishing the look of utter disbelief on her face. I sure was glad I had decided to not inconvenience her, I thought to myself as her husband mercifully gave me a midnight ride back to town. Sure am glad I got out for a rejuvenating outing. Too bad I'll have to work for about two weeks now to pay for the costly tow that I'll have to arrange tomorrow morning, and some high-priced mechanic fees to get that #%@* belt back in place.... Sure would be nice to have a radio and power steering though, not that it would do much good in the morning for Brian's 20 minute commute to work without a functioning vehicle.
Maybe I could loan him my snowpants.
And folks, it doesn't end there. Because I must never leave home and must always go to bed at 10:00 pm sharp, I shut off my alarm while in a dead sleep. Yes, I did. And when I woke up, fully an hour late, I had to let poor, defenseless, impressionable children into the house, wearing my housecoat. I also had to phone the father of the child who I'm sure was at my door 30 minutes earlier, and apologize profusely for having ever left home. Leaving home makes me vulnerable to a multitude of sins. Ruining vehicles, waking neighbors, providing undependable childcare, running up bills, causing my loved one to miss his work-out.
So, if you need me for anything at all, I will be here.
I will never again be so selfish that I would actually leave home.
*somebody... please help me. I really, really need to get out of here....