Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not Alone in the Dark.

It was a dark and stormy night.
Really, it was!
It was pitch dark, pouring rain and I was leaving Clackamas on the right
highway headed in the wrong direction: north instead of south.
There was no turning back. I knew what eventually lay in front of me. It wasn’t going to be pretty, either. It would involve three lanes of traffic, with more vehicles constantly merging onto the road on my right.
I stuck to the middle lane. All of us were eager to get home, especially those large pickups and SUVs — passing on both my right and left — throwing up water spray that covered my windshield. The wipers were going rapid fire, “swish, click, swish, click.”
Northward I flew, saying aloud “I can do this!” Again, aloud, I spoke to my fellow drivers: “We all just want to get home safe.”
The radio was off. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but staying in my
lane and remembering to breathe.
Parkrose exit. I could have gotten off there. Powell - another exit with
a name I knew. I pictured the long stretch of Powell Boulevard and the
bridge to the other side of Portland.
The freeway seemed to collapse in length and become shorter and shorter
as the minutes went by. The airport exit came up before I knew it. I
would have to get off this road soon or end up in Washington.
The airport exit! I knew the airport. I could find my way home from the
airport. I had gone out of my way by a long shot, but from there I knew
I could find my way home.
Unfortunately I turned off at Cascade Station, thinking it was the first
parking area for overnight or weekly parking at the airport. I didn’t
know it was a humonguous new shopping center with stores for almost
anything you might or might not need.
I considered going in and asking for directions, but something akin to a
Y chromosome kicked in. If I asked for help I would be admitting defeat:
“I couldn’t do this alone.”
I have a difficult time asking for help, but that’s too long a story.
I did call my husband on my cell phone, however, to let him know I might
be late getting home. I had called him when I left Clackamas.
“Where are you now?” he asked.
“I’m out by the airport. Yes, I can see it from here. I’m at Cascade
Station, near that new Ikea store. Oops! Someone’s in back of me. Gotta’
I dropped the phone into my lap and drove off. Ahead of me was a Subaru
in a right turn only lane. I saw a blue sign: I-84. Things were looking
up. When the light changed we both turned right and then stopped at
another light. I decided to trust the Subaru and followed its taillights
when the light turned green. Soon we were on I-84 ... going in the wrong
Sandy Boulevard. Another familiar street. I abandoned my friend in the
Subaru and left the freeway. Now I was on Sandy, headed east or west.
Your guess would have been as good as mine. No daylight; no sun to show
me my way home; no stars either. Only more rain.
My cell phone rang. It was my husband asking “Where are you now?”
“I’m headed down Sandy,” I said. “Say, there’s an adult toy shop. Need
I don’t know who I was trying to reassure with this attempt at humor,
him or me.
I stopped at a light then. There was a car beside me on my left and I
glanced over at the intersection of the one-way cross street looking for
information and saw a sign that read “City Center.” Yes!
“I’m at an intersection,” I said, “and there’s a sign to city center.”
“Take that,” he said. “You can find your way back that way.”
However, to go that way I would need to cross three lanes of traffic —
one beside me on my left and two other oncoming lanes. I remembered my
driver’s education manual and knew this wasn’t an option.
Then I spotted a motel on the right just through the intersection.
“I’ll bet I can turn into this motel, go through their parking lot and
turn onto the one-way street headed toward downtown. Goodbye,” I said.
Soon I was hurtling toward “downtown” which turned out to be I-84 again,
but in the correct direction. I got into the left hand lane to make sure
I would get the Salem and, eventually, Beaverton exits.
Finally I was really on my way home. I was on my way to the safest place
in the world. Why had I ever left it, I wondered.

That night, holding my husband's hand and trying to fall asleep, I was amazed to have traveled all that distance and come to rest, at last, here in this snug harbor. A million thoughts went through my head. They were all related to my trip and the “what if’s” that so often haunt us late at night.
What if I’d had an accident? What if I hadn’t been lucky?
But I had been. I was lucky to find my way home safely, lucky to be snug
in a safe little house with someone I love. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
I believe in skill. I believe in intelligence. But I’ll trust lucky any day.

— femminismo trusts luck too much, sometimes, but hardly ever buys
lottery tickets.

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