Today was My Second Worst Drive Ever.
Yesterday we had to get up early to pick up JJ’s car at the shop in Eureka. When we got back home, we had to drive downstate because we were meeting with a realtor at the old house. On the drive down, we stopped at a gas station for caffeinated drinks because neither EJ nor I had slept well the night before. I had awakened early and couldn’t get back to sleep and EJ had only time for a three-hour nap after work before we had to get up. Usually we drive downstate with not much sleep.
At the gas station, EJ bent down to pick something up and his back suddenly spasmed, went numb, and he almost passed out. After a moment or two, he was mostly ok although from then on his back hurt so much that he could barely function. He pressed on anyway.
We made it to the house ok….five minutes before we were scheduled to meet the realtor. She was already there. We took her through the house and it was a really depressing ordeal. The real estate market in our area is in the toilet with a lot of houses empty and for sale. Also, I think our house looked quite cute when all the furniture was in it, but we were always working on it, and we have a number of major projects unfinished, and we aren’t going to be able to get the projects finished, especially with EJ’s back the way it is, so we aren’t going to get much for the house even though we installed a new furnace, are leaving a nice new washer and dryer (we only got it when JJ went through chemo), and are also leaving the stove and refrigerator and wood stove. One realtor told EJ on the phone that we might want to put carpeting in the living/dining room but if all the nice appliances aren’t going to affect the price, I doubt carpeting will either. Besides, I’m done spending money on the place.
The house feels like a heavy burden and I really just want it gone. I think we will have to make a few more trips to finish a few small (or probably not so small) necessary projects, and we still have stuff in the garage and basement to move. I think we are going to have to beg for help–although I’m not sure who we can ask. Moving all that stuff is just too hard on EJ’s back.
We were dismayed when we took the realtor through our yard because it was all overgrown and junglely. We had hired one of EJ’s former co-workers who is starting a new lawn care business, but (I later found out from our neighbors) they had only been there once. There were weeds taller than my head.
After the realtor left, it was mid-afternoon and we could have worked at the house, but EJ’s back was in agony and he was tired and not feeling well so we went to a nearby town and got a hotel room. The woman who checked us in gave us a discount on the room because she thought EJ was hilariously funny and he “made her day.” While EJ lay down in the room, I used the public computer in the common area to message local friends who do lawn care in our town. They called shortly afterwards and we arranged to meet at the house so I could show them what needed done. I left EJ at the hotel room and drove back to the house and the friends and I walked through the yard. They promised that they will faithfully mow our lawn every two weeks, as I asked. After they left, I walked over to our neighbors across the street to leave our house keys with them and we had a nice visit.
We had planned to have a friend drive our old truck up here on our first moving day, but he couldn’t get it started. It’s a beater truck, but we plan to use it only to plow our driveway in the winters. We woke up early this morning, bought a car battery and some cleaning supplies, and drove to the old house. I cleaned, pulled some of the taller-than-my-head weeds in the yard, and loaded some stuff in the suburban while EJ put the battery in the old truck. Then he loaded a bunch of stuff in the truck. And this is when we began my second worst drive EVER.
Ok, I don’t understand the technical stuff, but the truck is stick-shift and hadn’t been driven for a while, so EJ attached a chain to the truck and Sub, and I had to get in the Sub and pull the truck backwards (to give us room to maneuver). Then I had to drive the Sub in front of the truck. EJ attached the chain from the back of the Sub to the front of the truck, and he got in the truck and I had to gently drive the Sub forward until there was no slack and then drive 25-30 mph and pull the truck until it started. I had never done this before so it was stressful because I was afraid I would do it wrong and totally destroy two vehicles.
The truck had a low tire so we had to go to the local gas station so EJ could get air in it. As he was pulling out of the gas station, the truck died, so EJ had to put the chain back on so I could pull him until the truck started. Yikes! The Village policeman pulled up while EJ was getting ready to attach the chain, and he parked behind us with his lights on to protect us until we got the truck going again.
EJ said that once he got the truck running, everything would be fine as long as we didn’t turn it off. I’m not sure why. I think it’s an old beater stick-shift truck kind of thing.
So EJ drove off with me following him. We went the slower back way, which led us through towns. After awhile EJ stopped at a gas station and bought two different kinds of stuff (cleaners, I found out later) to put in the gas tanks. He said the truck was fine as long as he drove along at a constant speed, but there was a problem with the fuel delivery (or something) and it was struggling to accelerate whenever we had to stop.
We reached a larger town with hills, and we had to wait for several stop lights. One of them was on a steep hill, and EJ suddenly started to back up a bit and I had to back up a bit too or he’d have hit me. He backed up more and I had to back up more. I said to myself in panic “Eeeek! Stop! You are going to hit me, you are going to hit me!” It was a busy intersection and there were cars behind me and I was getting close to them as I tried to back away from EJ. I turned on my hazard lights and finally the person behind me realized something was happening because she pulled out around us and that gave us a little space. EJ called me and he said he couldn’t get the truck started, and I needed to let him hit me. So I did. It was a just a little bump but the pallet hanging off the back of the truck a little went “SCCRRREECH” on the hood of the Sub, scratching it a bit. Then EJ said I needed to push him forward so he could get the truck started. So I went forward (a little too hard, but not bad) and we went around the curve, but I backed off too soon and EJ said, “You need to do it again.” I was rattled and said, “I CAN’T!” and he replied, “YOU MUST!” So I did and the truck got started and we drove off. But a little ways down the road I heard a bendy sound, so I called EJ and we pulled off the road and he removed some sort of part from the Sub. I didn’t know what it was, but the Sub was fine after that. EJ said later that it was the foglight.
So we drove for a bit and then EJ made it through a light but I didn’t. Usually when that happens EJ pulls off the road and waits for me because I get lost so easily, but this time I didn’t want EJ to wait and have more truck problems, so I called him and said, “Just keep going. I’ll catch up!” I figured he was going slow enough that I could easily find him. However, the light was VERY long, and when it finally turned green I didn’t see him ahead of me. Not long afterwards, a highway sign indicated that I had to turn right. EJ had told me the route he was going to take before we left, so I followed the sign, but although I could see down the road a long distance, I couldn’t see EJ, so I began to wonder if I was not supposed to have turned. My sense of direction is so bad that usually whichever road I choose is the wrong one. So I pulled into a parking lot and called EJ to ask if I was going the right way, but he didn’t answer (because he was busy trying to keep the truck going). I turned back to take a look at the sign, and I figured I WAS going the right way, so I continued on the way I thought I should take.
But now EJ was far, far ahead and I was alone in my lostness with no GPS to help me. (Viki was in JJ’s car.) Furthermore, the speedometer in the Sub didn’t work. I didn’t worry about it as long as I was following EJ because I knew he knew his speed, but without him I had no idea how fast–or slow–I was going. I felt like panicking. I felt sure I must smell of stress and fear.
Then I came up behind a truck with a trailer. It felt like he was going a bit slow, which meant EJ was getting further and further ahead of me, but I wasn’t ever able to pass him–either there was a no passing zone or traffic was coming in the opposite direction. So I stayed behind him, and when he put his turn signal on to turn, I was sort of glad to be rid of him. Then I noticed that I also was supposed to turn. I think that if I hadn’t been behind the guy in the truck and trailer, I would have missed the sign and my turn, which would have been disastrous. So I was glad that I was behind him, and I decided to keep following him–as long as he stayed on my road. He went a little faster and it felt like he was going the right speed. I followed him for about an hour, and he always made turns that I was supposed to make. Finally I thought I could see EJ far, far, far ahead–even so far away it was difficult to miss the loaded up truck. Slowly, slowly, we got a bit closer to EJ. When we had caught up to EJ–and only then–the stranger I was following turned into a gas station, almost as if he had purposely led me to EJ and then handed me over to him. I thought, “That guy will never know what a big help he was to me.” And then I thanked G-d for the gift of the stranger and asked Him to tremendously bless him in some way.
We didn’t have much trouble after that, although every time we had to stop I prayed that the truck would start again, and every time we started up a hill, I prayed that the truck would make it up. The farther north we got the bigger the hills were and it scared me. We finally made it home, but while EJ was trying to back the truck into a place next to the garage, it conked out and started going down the steep drive and he discovered then that when his friend had worked on the brakes, he had removed the back brakes without telling him. When EJ later told me that, I felt faint with fear because if the breaks had given out on the huge mountainous hills, EJ could have been killed. When I saw EJ sliding down the driveway, I began praying, “Please don’t hit a tree. Please don’t go in a ditch! Please be ok!” EJ had to race down the drive to get the truck started and then labor back up the driveway. He was halfway up the driveway when the truck quit again and he slid back down, but the second time he made it up. When he finally had it safely parked and stopped, the muffler fell off.
With the truck up here, EJ can work on it. It will stay on our property and only be used as a plow truck.
When we were both parked safely in the driveway, EJ got out, opened the door of the Sub, and asked, “So, how are you doing?” I said, “Well, I sort of feel like I need to go cry, but I’m mostly ok.” EJ said I was a trooper–and I didn’t cry after all. Instead, even though we were really tired, we unloaded some of the essential stuff from the vehicles and then left the rest for tomorrow if EJ can move. His back is killing him. Good thing he doesn’t have to go to work tomorrow.
I’m so glad we are home. I’m praying that the old house will sell SOON and we can stay up here forever.
So if that was my SECOND worst drive ever, I bet you are wondering about my very worst drive? One winter when JJ was a baby, EJ called me after 11 pm. to tell me that he had run out of gas and I needed to come pick him up. The car was also just about out of gas and the local gas station was closed for the night. EJ had told me that there was a gas station in the next town about 10 miles away. So I drove toward it with JJ in his car seat, watching the fuel gauge dip lower and lower and below E, praying all the way that we’d make it to the gas station. As we neared the gas station, I saw that it was closed. Yikes! So I drove on to the next city, desperately praying that we wouldn’t run out of gas because I didn’t know what I’d do with a baby in the middle of the night in the winter if the car ran out of gas. On the way to the city, we encountered a “Road Closed” sign and had to detour miles before we got back to our route. We finally found EJ and we didn’t run out of gas, and we were able to get both vehicles filled with fuel, and we got home again. A good ending, but it was the most hellish trip ever.