The weather man said it was the earliest snow in over a decade. Who would have thought the little bit of rain at my parent's house tapping on my shoulders as I walked to my car would turn into the full-on whiteout blizzard I was caught in on the freeway as I drove home?
I work on Friday nights until nine. Ethan is usually sleeping or getting ready to go to sleep at my mom's when I arrive to pick him up; Joey is working; there is no point in going home so I usually spend the night. But last Friday I wanted to go home. I thought it would be easier, less strange, to sleep in my own bed. I originally thought staying at my mom's would make Joey's absence easier; instead it seems to magnify the fact that Joey is not with me.
So I grabbed Ethan's diaper bag, put the little man in the car and we were off.
I remember thinking; not mindless, random thoughts, but good, thoughtful things probably inspired by some book I had read while sitting at work.
As I kept heading north, the freeway starting to incline up a little hill, the rain turned to snow.
I thought, Wow, it's snowing. Then I took a deep breath and rolled my shoulders back because I like driving in the snow about as much as I like having a crown put on at the dentist. Which is to say I do not like it at all. I kept thinking those thoughtful thoughts, which, by the way, presently I can't remember a lick of.
As the snow got thicker, covering the freeway in a deceptively beautiful but truly deadly slick blanket of snow, I took deep breaths and thought in between my scholarly thoughts, I'm doing real good. I'm relaxed, I'm keeping my shoulders from tensing terribly, I'm doing good. This is going to be fine.
I glanced back at Ethan in my rear view mirror, his head resting on the side of the car seat, eyes closed, mouth pursed. Like a hand-painted doll.
When my eyes focused straight ahead I noticed it was getting harder to see. I rubbed the windshield with the forearm of my coat as my Honda fogged up. In a matter of two seconds I couldn't see ANYTHING but white cloudiness everywhere. No lights from the cars in front of me, no lights behind. NOTHING. I rolled my window down as fast as I could and thought, This is crazy. This is not supposed to happen! Snowstorms are not supposed to come out of nowhere. Hondas should not fog up!
I was feeling seriously encroached upon, like my right as a driver and as a mother was being totally infringed. Whosever fault this all was should really be punished. I had a sleeping baby in the back seat for crying out loud. Which made me think in a quirky and somewhat sick humor type of way of Carrie Underwood's song, Jesus Take the Wheel.
Her voice fills my head, even though I don't want it to, as I start to panic. What are you supposed to do when you are driving on the freeway and suddenly you can't see? Throw your hands up in the air and sing?
I knew I was near an off ramp so I turned the wheel ever so slightly in that direction. I kept driving, certain I was at any moment going to run right into a side-rail or the ditch. There was a light at the top of the off ramp that suddenly to my heart's relief let me see a little. That and the fact that I had completely rolled down my window so my windshield wasn't fogged anymore, but Ethan was getting big, wet snow pieces all over his face, his hair. Also, it was cold.
I turned left. To my left there was a seedy 7-11, surrounded by orange storage units and brick buildings that had signs which said, Bonds! Quick and Easy. On my right was the jail. Where Joey was.
I wanted to go to the jail very badly but I knew I would never find Joey, plus all that security you'd have to go through, and then there would be the look on Joey's face I would have to deal with; the look that would say, "Danae, what are you doing here?"
I had to be a big girl now.
So I pulled into the 7-11, really slow. Which is when I realised there were headlights beaming directly behind me, almost on top of my little Honda. What is that jerk's problem, I thought.
Well, his problem was that he was a cop, and had probably been following my very troubled, if not concerned looking vehicle for who knows how long. I turned around, half relieved I was at least going to have someone to talk to about all this, but the second I got out of his way he went and parked in front of the 7-11 and walked inside. Probably for some glazed donuts.
I sat in my car and tried to pull myself together. My right leg, the leg that presses the pedals, began shaking uncontrollably. Oh jeese, I thought. I am such a weenie.
Everyone around me seemed to be doing just fine with the little storm. At one point I saw an old Bronco hit the gas hard as he was taking off, squealing and sliding all over the road, on purpose-
like it was fun.
I took the back way home, scared to get near the freeway, and had no problems. In fact, in a matter of minutes the snow was gone and everything was wet, shiny, dark and still.
This kind of thing happens in my marriage too. I have been trying to hold it together these five weeks we have been in school; trying to have things picked up and maybe even a sandwich made for Joey. Trying to let him sleep, even though I want him to to wake up. I have been proud of myself for not whining, for taking care of Ethan even thought I feel alone most of the time, except for on Tuesdays.
But these blizzards come out of nowhere.
Ethan, Joey and I were all driving to my dad's to drop Ethan off. Ethan was happy in the back seat, chattering on about "humpy dumpy". Joey and I were not talking; earlier that day Joey and gotten upset with me for driving around all over town for three or four days with a car seat that was very loose and wobbly, like a six year old's loose tooth. You could wiggle it all sorts of ways.
I was silently steaming on the inside that Joey and I hadn't had any time together; you know, time to laugh together and enjoy each other.Time to have a relationship. So at the time I could really care less about the car seat, and I let him know it by rolling my eyes and walking away without saying anything.
So in the car we were not talking. Finally Joey says, "You know what hurts me? That you don't even care about Ethan's safety. That you are more upset at my bringing it up than you are about the seat being loose!"
I slumped in my chair and fummed. I did care about that darn carseat; I had tried numerous times to tighten it and I couldn't get it tight.
I let Joey know this.
Then I felt it all boiling up inside of me, and I knew I was going to erupt.
"You know what hurts me??" (I raise my arms here in the air, my fingers opened and stretch as tight as they can go) "I feel like I am dying in this fricking marriage and you don't care!"
I must of said this louder than I intended because Joey starts yelling at me to stop. He tells me to turn around and talk to Ethan because I scared him.
I force myself to turn around, afriad at the look of horror I will see on his little face, but he doesn't look scared so much as quiet, thoughtful. I rub his foot, and my cheeks are wet from tears that silently drip down them.
We don't say much else. We have extra time so we go to the park. We walk over to the slides like three best friends, each of us holding one of Ethan's two, small hands, but there is a saddness that hangs above his little head, between us.
We go down slides together and make our voices high and happy. When Joey and I finally get a moment alone, he suprisingly puts his arm around me. My head instantly, like a magnet, drops to his shoulder.
"Don't get angry in front of him. If you are mad at me, that's fine. But not in front of Ethan."
"I know," I say.
For the rest of the day and on into the next I was confused. Why do we get married? How can two people who are so different, who need oppisit things, have a happy life together?
The discussions between us lasted two or three days, but at least there was a clearing in all the snow and fog. It still isn't moring yet; it's dark and shiney and wet. And still. But there is hope of the morning, of a bright and glorious sun, shining down on us, soaking up all the slick and deadly snow.