I feel trapped sometimes.
Right after I got divorced, it was BRUTAL.
Hugs that were too tight.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out why, you guys.
If my seatbelt locked.
If I woke up in the middle of the night and Craig’s arm was over me in just the wrong spot.
Turtlenecks, or t-shirts that were too close to my neck.
From the very first time Craig sat down on the edge of my blanket, and from the very first time I felt just a little bit of panic that I couldn’t get out -
he’s been patience personified.
Quietly shushing me in the middle of the night when I’m tangled up in blankets.
Taking a soft step back when I squeeze his hand a little too hard.
And it’s not really something we even talk about anymore. I feel like, for the most part, the trapped feelings have subsided, and most of the time - I don’t even notice them.
Until last night, when we’re in the middle of Des Moines when ten inches of rain fell.
And suddenly, we’re IN a flash flood.
In my car that is ALMOST paid off.
With my five-year-old.
And every street we went down was blocked with an accident, a stalled car, or a new gushing rapid.
People were high-centered on medians.
People were stranded in their cars as the water just didn’t stop rising.
My mom’s voice in my head.
My dad’s voice in my head.
Don’t get out of your car.
We went down a side street and six or seven men in their twenties with their shirts off and their hair soaked were pushing cars out of the way. One ran up to our window. “Don’t go down there,” he said, out of breath. And then he ran to the next car.
Craig laughed - amazed. It was like some kind of actual war zone. I stared wide-eyed out my window. I’ve never seen anything like it. Never seen rain that hard. Never seen the water rise that fast.
I squeezed his hand even tighter.
We were trapped.
And I couldn’t figure out what direction we were going because it’s not my city.
And it was dark.
And the rain just wouldn’t abate.
My hand tightened and tightened on his until he would softly say, “Baby. It’s okay.” And I would release. A little. And then it would start all over.
“What do we do?” I asked over and over. I eyed the people parked in church parking lots on hills wondering if that was the way to go. Wait out a storm that actually looked like it wasn’t going to stop for hours? Stop at a hotel? The same hotels where the parking lots are flooded and the first floors are flooded?
“Sleeping in your car during a rain storm is definitely better than sleeping in your car during a blizzard.” Craig looked at me and smiled.
“Yeah, but what are going to do?” I bet I asked him 100 times.
And every single time - without fail - The Boyfriend said to me, “It’s going to be fine. We’re going to be fine.”
Yeah. But we’re in a FLOOD, Craig.
We finally made it to the interstate, and it was night and day different. One side of the interstate was backed up for miles because of the flooded river. Our side was blessedly fine.
For the first time in an hour and a half, I took a deep breath and I unclenched my jaw.
We turned down the street where his apartment buildings are, and the water rose again. “Wouldn’t it be funny ...” I started slowly, “If we make it this far and THEN my car decided to stall?”
We both laughed. Because we could literally see his apartment building.
And then we turned into his parking lot.
Which is flanked by two ponds.
Which were both flooded across the driveway.
And my mom’s voice in my head.
And my dad’s voice in my head.
And you don’t drive through standing water.
But there was no other way in. Every entrance was flooded - the back entrance by a creek, and the front entrances by the ponds.
And the water was up to my windows of the car I’m still paying for before we even realized how deep it really was.
And it’s nicest car I’ve ever owned.
With pretty, heated leather seats.
And a giant screen for my handy backup camera.
And my car died. Right there. In the middle of all of the water.
I sort of feel like I’ll be good in a crisis - I do teach junior high and all, but -
I was BESIDE myself.
Trapped in my car.
With my kid.
With water everywhere.
And I have NEVER hated Iowa more than I did at that moment.
Two people - angels, really - were standing there watching people trying to get through the mess. They said they’d been pushing people out all evening.
So Craig put my car in neutral, and I put my head in my hands.
And they pushed us out.
Through my windshield, I could see Craig working by the light of his cell phone flashlight. He popped his head into my car. “Do you have rags? Or towels?”
I have granola bars?
A sealbelt cutter?
A glass breaker?
Two fleece blankets?
A safety vest?
Like I am READY for a Nebraska winter, but I am OBVIOUSLY NOT ready for an Iowa summer.
I don’t know what he used. But my car finally started again and he drove us to his apartment and
My legs were stuck to my leather seats and my kid was still marveling at “all of the really cool lightening, mommy,” and Craig was carrying my air filter.
I put Tuck to bed, and walked out to the living room and said for the thousandth time -
“But what are we going to do?”
My dad isn’t exactly across the street if I have car trouble.
Neither is Craig.
I’m by myself all the time (don’t come rob me).
I need a reliable car and I kind of feel like mine was just used as a boat.
“It’s going to be fine,” he said again. Over and over and over until I finally believed it.
Wide-eyed, I stared at his bathroom fan - now blowing full blast with my air filter strapped to it by a rubber band. My blow dryer lay next to the sink, obviously used to help dry out the filter and I turned to stare at Craig.
And I started to settle back down.
We went to bed finally, and the dog that I lost in the divorce but still sometimes babysit curled up at the foot of the bed. The ceiling fan rocked above us and the rain - still with the rain - pelted the windows outside.
“Where do you learn this stuff?” I asked. Mostly because I don’t know what my air filter looks like, where it’s at, or how to find my way home in a damn flood.
He shrugged his shoulders and talked about changing oil in cars at the gas station when he was 14. He talked about his grandpa Dolan. And then I heard him chuckle in the dark. “Dolan would be proud,” he said.
Yes, I thought. He would be.
Craig worked all weekend long. Each day this weekend, he’s been working at a car show. I dropped him off this morning at 6 a.m., and he’s tired. It was so late, and I know he was so tired, but he didn’t complain one single time.
And even still, the very last thing that I heard last night before I fell asleep was his soft voice in my ear, telling me that it was all going to be okay. Just like I always do - I believed him.
And I dreamed about NEBRASKA sunshine.
PS - I don’t really HATE Iowa.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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