I just got home. Home.
I’ve never before looked at this cramped space as sanctuary, but after the exhausting weekend I had, it is that and more. It is refuge. It represents the distance from all the evils. It represents solace from all the tumult that seems to follow me like a hungry puppy.
I walked in and I started to do what I always do– I thought about the weekend and where its deposited me in the grand scheme of my life. I shed a great amount of emotional weight over the past 24 hours. I have let go of the one major impediment of my life. I won’t bore you with details, but permit me to put it this way– I closed the last door of my “Let’s Make Deal” past. Which way do I go? How do I handle this? Will he love me? Will it work out? Why doesn’t he feel this way? Why can’t I love more or less?????/ No more questions: the guess-work is over.
Thank you, closure. I’ve never been much for this wondrous art. In fact, it’s only been in the past three years or so that I have wrapped my head around how important it closure it. Well, I do now and in that time, I closed, then nailed shut the door that kept allowing the love-lorn memory of two men, both were THEE great loves of my life, to haunt me. I have also severed an equally unnerving childhood memory.
So here I am, now a free agent on so many levels it almost scares me. Seriously. Change is daunting and the void it’s creating is all around me. It’s up to me to fill. But with what?
Well, we’ll seriously pose that query another time. Right now, I have to deal with the inertia of my life. So to avoid that, I started to think of the wierdness of my life and I was reminded of one other trip home from the Texas Hill Country.
DATELINE: The Shoulder of Interstate 10..somewhere between Schulenburg and Houston, circa late March 2010.
I drove back on a Sunday morning with my then 21-year-old niece, Kelly (who’s ridiculously good looking) to spend the night with friends before leaving from Houston for a few days in Vegas. At the time Kelly was a Senior at Texas A&M. I’m fond of my young Kendrick sapling who stands 5’9″–her mother is barely 5’2″; her aunt (me) is five feet even and her maternal grandmother, is eye level to any navel. She’s so short that she’d be fully welcomed into the Fraternal Order of Keebler Tree Trunk Cookie Bakers, Local 47387.
How Kelly got so statuesque coming from the female genes she came from, is beyond me. Her father’s people are tall…go figure that DNA shit. Anyway, Kelly and I always laugh when we’re together and we always have fun and great conversations. I have a very good relationship with all my sisters; kids, but I’m a bit closer to my sister Karol’s kids, by virtue of proximity. I spent a great deal of my time with these kids when I was San Antonio, back in my 20’s. We’ve been close ever since.
Kelly and I talked about her eventual move to Houston by 2011 and what her options would be in terms of nightlife, shopping, etc. We were in my sedan and not far from Houston , surrounded by Teamsters in Mack trucks heading east. The traffic, even civilians in their cars, was barreling down Interstate 10. I had to go 85 mph just to keep up with one older, tattooed Peterbuilter who kept making lewd tongue gestures to Kelly as we passed each other which was often, depending on our speeds, lane availability and of course, his tongue muscle strength.
All of a sudden, my car started to shimmy. If you’ve driven any amount of time, you’ve invariably suffered a blow out. When that happens, there’s an unmistakable way in which the car shakes. That’s if the tire splits in half…up the middle.
Like mine did.
At 85 mph.
We were surrounded by leering truckers gacked out of their minds on No Doze or worse, who need to be in Atlanta in three hours. Now, keep in mind that at that location, they were still more than six hours out of New Orleans. Speed was something they would achieve either with a pill or the proverbial “pedal to the metal” and they were acheiving it on all sides of us.
Fear not—a cooler Kendrick head prevailed. As if channeling the driving prowess of the late Steve McQueen, I deftly grabbed the steering wheel, spewed forth many F-bombs while gently applying the brakes to minimize my 85 mph speed, and put on my blinker. I was able to dart in and out of traffic, avoiding certain death as I managed to get to the right shoulder of eastbound I-10, while also dodging long, shredded tire treads slamming against my windshield. I suddenly realized what Tippy Headren must have felt while filming The Birds.
By the time I pulled over and stopped, I was on my rim. It looked like it had teeth marks in it. I thought I smelled smoke.
Of course, no one stopped to help. Truckers who we’d passed earlier drove on by blaring their horns and doing God knows what with their hands below out line of sight. I got out; popped the trunk and stood there looking inside it knowing full well I had no idea how to change my tire. Kelly was just as ignorant in the ways and means of tire changing, but she had the good sense to belong to Triple A, who unfortunately, couldn’t get there any sooner than an hour…maybe. That was going to be a problem; I had to be back in Houston by early afternoon to work on a writing assignment.
She hung up and joined me at the back of the car. We moved some stuff around and lifted the floor of the trunk which revealed where my temp tire was stowed. I pulled out the jack and Kelly unscrewed the tire hold. I was bent over. No one honked. No one stopped. But for some reason, I felt horrible about my ass presentation to the motoring world. I knew it wasn’t a pleasant sight and feared for the safety of the drivers who might gaze upon my ass which I felt sure looked like two queen sized pillows cases that appeared to be filled with golf balls which were battling for supremacy of one hole which was consistently always well OVER par. I immediately stood upright.
I’m nothing if not considerate.
I then realized that I wasn’t thinking; not using my head. I realized that we had ASS-sets that could help us get the tire changed. I told Kelly to bend over further to show off that finely tuned Aggie ass. By the way, she was wearing very form-fitting yoga pants.
All it took was two minutes. A truck with two men–obviously, a father and a son–drove up behind us. They got out, shook my hand as I assessed the situation for them, but they both stared at Kelly. I’m used to that. I’m one of those women that pretty woman gravitate to. I’m funny and smart and they’re devastatingly gorgeous. We, as two people, complete this perfect triumvirate of attraction. Like this cartoonish Abbot and Costello. It’s always been like that. Not sure why, but they flock to me…like gay men.
Long story short–dad and son ( and Jr. had an extremely interesting over bite and large noggin) changed out the tires in less than five minutes. We offered them what we had in terms of cash–a whopping 18 dollars. Dad refused it, telling us they didn’t want any money and that it was their pleasure to help, but Deliverance Child greedily grabbed the cash out of Kelly’s hand and ran back to his father’s truck and with a fiendish grin, started counting it with the cypherin’ he know’d from all that fancy book learning’ he done got with sixth grade edumacation. My friends, there is no other driving force in the world than that which compels a strange young encephalic man /child man who desperately wants to buy a bag of weed and a chocolate Moon Pie.
We looked at the old tire. It was split up the middle at least a foot (I kid you not) and then in the middle, exploded in this Medusan looking steel belted frenzy. It looked like Don King was poking his head through what was left of the radials.
We rolled into Houston going incredibly slow–we were passed up by mopeds and Rickshaws, but we made it.
Even now, almost a year and a half later, I realize how lucky we were. Blow outs are horrendous and have ended up in cars flipping and lives lost. And yeah, I know it was horribly sexist of me to use my niece to force someone to stop and help. I know motivations like this set women back decades, but then again, isn’t it motivations like this that’s also kind of proven that we’re also damned resourceful? And besides, had I been in that scenario by myself, I might as well have pitched a tent and unless a bus full of male, AARP types, half blind by diabetes, but feeling benevolent toward a non gaunt, middle-aged woman in distress were to pass by, I’d still be there beside I-10, fed and nourished only by the trash that would’ve been thrown at me by mocking passers-by.
So color me wily.
And yes, color us both lucky. Lucky indeed, but we made it to Houston in one piece. And we did it by the grace of God, my quick reactions and reflexes and of course, my niece’s fine young, nubile ass.