Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

At 8AM, there was again too much light for me to sleep, it was telling my brain to get up and get going. So, I did.

It didn't take me long to freshen up, brush my teeth and hair, and get my stuff downstairs.

Grace's husband was at the table, and offered me coffee, which I accepted. It turned out that Grace had not gone to bed yet, and they had given him his birthday present. He was loading all the music onto his computer before leaving, but kindly took time out to write the directions for me to get out of the neighborhood and back to the interstate.

I packed up, and moved all the rest of my items out of their car and into my van, noting that Grace's talented husband had, indeed, taped up my leaky tail light. Wonderful guy, and she knows it.

His cab came to take him to the airport just as I was about to head out, so I again busied myself doing something else so they could say a proper good-bye without my intrusion. Then I hugged Grace and got myself gone; with properly timed stops, I would indeed get to Houston right after lunch.

The first of these stops was not strictly necessary, but I made it anyway. I stopped at Buc-ees in Lutcher.

I had, of course, seen the signs on the way to San Antonio, but had not known then that this particular "truck stop" is somewhat of an institution. Grace had informed me that it was indeed worth a visit, always clean, lots of fun stuff. So, I stopped.

The phone calls from family had slowed a bit, but never ceased entirely, and Sweetie called while I was at Buc-ee's. When I told him I was in Lutcher, he was a bit startled, as the Lutcher in our state is well off the path I need to take to get home. We both laughed when I told him this was Lutcher, Texas, and that I was well on my way back. He had the usual "my work life is so busy" details to share, and told me to be careful, and that he was looking forward to having me home. I could only imagine.

Buc-ee's was indeed clean, and bright, and fun. Hot food, cold food, jerky of many types. Drinks of every kind you could imagine. Souvenirs and tchotchkes and, most painfully, nice and affordable cast iron, of pieces I have actually been looking for and unable to find.

I wanted so badly to have money to bring back something for the family. I had to settle, as usual, for something tiny and cheap. Some buffalo jerky for #2 Son. Candy for the others. I had to pass up the t-shirt I knew Bigger Girl would have worn, couldn't get nearly as much of the jerky as I would have liked for son (I really wanted to get him samples of all the different exotic types, he loves that stuff!), and, as for the iron ware, forget that. A quick consult of the bit of money I had left, and I knew I needed the rest for gas, and then for groceries when I got home.

It is the story of my life. A house full of stuff, much of which I can't or don't use, or don't particularly like, or use because I have nothing else. No money to get the items I would use every day, when I do find them. A wok, a roaster of just the right size and shape, the flat griddle for pancake night. All right there, good prices, and no way could I spend the money.

I paid for the gas, and for the little dribs and drabs I did get, and some coffee, half regular and half decaf, to keep me up. Got back onto the road as the clouds rolled in, and started trolling for radio stations.

Driving across the tremendousness of Texas alone gives you plenty of time to think.

I happened upon several gospel stations, and listened to one after another. They were comforting and inspirational and depressing at the same time. As one read parts of the story of the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, I listened in fascination. The woman cut cloth for her clothes with no patterns, apparently, saying something to the effect that she knew what shape she was. Sewing was another thing I never did get the hang of. Another lack of talent. Her children begging her, when she took them alone (her husband was traveling ahead) to their new home, to write out some of the stories she told. Turns out she had based much of her writing on true events. Writing, another talent I envy whenever I stop to think about what could have been.

My mood matched the gray of the skies, and the rain and spray made the road blend right in. I thought over the tremendous conversations Grace led, that touched on everything from relationships to work to our bond on the website.

I screamed at God a lot. Halfway across Texas, I yelled about my friends going through crisis after crisis. Cancer. Poverty. Job losses, marriage trouble. Lots to yell about.

More than ever I saw what my life has become. As dull and gray as my hair, as the road, as the rain. No potential any more, no talent, wasted time, wasted life, full of sound and fury, nothing significant accomplished. At one time, some things could have been. Too little, too late. My tears were for my friends who are suffering, and for me, who has earned failure through the stupidity of my own wastefulness.

Tears for my kids, who have nothing better than me for a mother.

Dumpy, middle aged, gray headed housewife, not very smart, best you can say about me. Also, I clean toilets.

Don't get me wrong, please. I have tremendous respect for the people who are janitors, and housekeepers, and maids, and wait staff, and cleaning personnel, and for stay at home moms who work very, very hard. I believe that class is being considerate of the people who have to clean up after you. But I am not one of them, one of the workers who deserve such respect. I am a pretender even in that, slow, plodding, and dumb.

I cried, and prayed, and stopped in Katy, Texas, right before Houston, to make sure I wouldn't have to stop in Houston.

I managed, amazingly, to get through Houston, right after lunch hour. It was fast and crazy, but doable, and I didn't get shunted into the wrong lane.

The weather stayed gray and drizzly, sometimes just plain rainy. A couple of times, the rain was pouring. Just as trailer parks are tornado magnets, the sections of road under construction had drawn accidents, including one on my side where someone had slid off the road. Lots of flashing lights, lots of stop and go.

I figured I would stop again at the Louisiana Welcome Center, but it was closed, so by the time I did stop, I was desperate. Not a nice place to be when the only stop is one of those that specialize in cheap liquor and cigarettes, but there it is.

Going through Lake Charles was wet, but not difficult. Most of the local traffic probably takes the loop, because it takes them closer to home.

I was in Lafayette by what would be rush hour in Houston or the Baton Rouge area. Listening again to Cajun music, it flew past, there was no real rush hour on the interstate there to be worth the name. Must be nice.

Another rest stop, because I wanted to get gas, and I was tempted to get something to eat. I came very close to buying a bit of dinner, just some salad, but no. I was breathing hard, feeling that I had pushed too hard, but I kept pushing. Eat what you have with you, stupid. The money needs to go for groceries. You have wasted enough on you. The family needs it more.

There was actually some sunshine by the time I pulled into the house. Fight to get to the house with all the football parents who bring their kids for 3 torturous months every year to clog up the street in front of our house, every single one of whom feels he/she should not have to walk further than 10 yards to get to the field. The first sight of home, and #2 Son is sitting on the roof. Figures. The cat was away.

I called Grace as I pulled in, because I had promised I would set her mind at ease when I got home. Got out of the van and hugged Son, and went into the house. He fussed at me for getting home by 7PM, they didn't expect me yet. Hugs all around, as the kids came in. Moment of truth.

Today is:

Driving Day

Ether Day

Evacuation Day, Tunisia

Get Smart About Credit Day

Mertz of All Possible Mertzes

Missouri Day, Missouri

My Mom is a Student Day

National Grouch Day

National Inhalant Abuse Awareness Day

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

National Roast Pheasant Day

National Shut-In Visitation Day

Parade of Giants & Dwarfs, Spain

Rainbow Pickling Day -- Fairy Calendar

St. Andeol's Day (patron of Switzerland)

St. Teresa of Avila's Day (patron of Spain, lace makers; against headaches, heart attacks)

White Cane Safety Day

World Poetry Day

Birthdays Today:

Sarah Ferguson, 1959
Emeril Lagasse,1959
Tanya Roberts, 1955
Richard Carpenter, 1946
Jim Palmer, 1945
Penny Marshall, 1942
Linda Lavin, 1937
Lee Iacocca, 1924
Mario Puzo, 1920
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 1917
John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908
Friedrich, Nietzsche, 1844

Today in History:

Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet "Ballet Comique de la Reine," is staged in Paris, 1581
Asser Levy is granted a butcher's license for kosher meat in New Amsterdam, 1660
George Washington takes the first formal presidential tour, of New England, 1789
Napoleon Bonaparte is exiled to the Island of St. Helena, 1815
Child labor law takes 12 year olds out of the work force, 1874
Edison Electric Light Company is incorporated, 1878
Koln cathedral is completed, 633 years after it was begun, 1880
The German dirigible "Graf Zeppelin' lands in Lakehurst, NJ, 1928
LaGuardia Airport opens, 1939

1 comment:

  1. "As dull and gray as my hair, as the road, as the rain."
    Beautifully bittersweet and evocative. And there's always potential.


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