My inner voice told me to take the Toyota to see Jason (my trusted car repair man) before we left.  I use and abuse this vehicle.  It is not uncommon for me to rack up over 100 miles a day going from one courthouse to the next.  The windshield has a long crack and I refuse to spend the money to replace it.  I didn’t, in part, because I didn’t want to face the truth.

Easier to pretend things are as they should be— and not as they truly are.

It is no secret I would rather buy a plane ticket or take a trip than fix that car.

This car is messy.  I litter it with coffee cups, papers and napkins.  I live in this car, it is an extension of myself, things need to be worked on and corrected.  There is always a tomorrow.  This car says a lot about me and what I value.

My father is disgusted I keep it like this.  The girls just shrug and look the other way.

I am too tired of this life to care.

My youngest cleans it out so we can make a trip to see my sister and her family in D.C.   We need to make room for luggage and they are tired of my collection of sugar coated and lipsticked cups. We leave after I get out of work.  I drive us into the night determined to pull us the whole way there.  The car grinds to a halt just outside a national forest.  I have three teenaged girls in the back and a Nate.  Nate is over 6 ft.  He is handsome and caring.  No one says anything in the back.  It’s 1 a.m.  We are tired.

They all know what I know: We told you so.  It was just a matter of distance and time.

I do know we are near a specific exit number.  We are surrounded by blackness.  I do not know what this surrounding terrain has to offer.  I have triple A and a working g.p.s.  I call and we are going to sort this out.  The triple A man wants to know the make and model of my vehicle.  I don’t really know.  I am tired.  Is this a 2002?  A 2003?  I think it might be a Corolla.  Let me check the glove box.  I feel suspicion in his voice.  I know he believes I am using my membership on a car that isn’t approved.

No, kiddo, that’s not it.  It’s 1 a.m.  I am tired and I really don’t pay attention to these sorts of things.  The color of my car is maroon or a red—pick a color in between–please get me a tow.

In an hour the tow truck driver pulls to the side of the road.  During this time no police officers or other night-time travelers have paid us a visit.  I am not sure if that is a good or bad fact.

When the tow truck driver comes to my window I am suddenly glad Nate is in the car.  The man’s eyes take in my face they wander to my chest.  My cheeks turn hot.  I look back trying to pretend he did not caress me with those eyes.

I thought about the gun I left at home under my bed.

The tow truck driver delivers us to a repair shop and a hotel.  I do not cry—there was a part in which I wanted to—but I am too tired.  I am not going to waste my energy on tears.  The girls see this as an adventure.  They point out it could have been worse—I could have been just miles into the national forest with no phone service.  This gives us something to learn and remember.

I pay the tow truck driver in cash. He tells me of the surrounding area.  There is nothing for miles.  This is confirmed by the blonde woman working the Super 8 hotel.  I can walk to the repair shop.  The town is a street and everyone knows everyone.

I have an emergency stash of cash.  I always have one.  I am dipping into it.  I call my sister and tell her we are going to be late.  We are 100 miles from her doorstep.  She wants to come and get me.  I tell her “No.”  We wait until morning and we will figure out a plan of action.  It could be possible they might fix the car.

My sleep is disturbed.  I have to be back at 8 a.m. on Monday.  I have a trial and I cannot miss.  I do not know the extent of the cost of repairs or what needs to be done.  I don’t know how we are going to get back home.  I am all alone with these kids.  It would be a lie if I didn’t admit I was slightly scared.

When I awake I find my dream wasn’t a dream.

I call Roland at the repair shop.  I start out with the particulars.  That car parked on his door step is mine.  I need it repaired as soon as possible.  He cuts me off, “Repair man comes in on Monday ma’am” The phone goes “click.”

I quickly determine Roland needs to meet me.  I take a shower and get myself ready.  I put on my travel gear and toe shoes.  I find at the bottom of the stairs that the previous Super 8 night clerk was replaced by a replica blonde.   My walk to see Rowland is a pleasant one.  People wave at me from their front doorsteps.  I know they are curious.  They stop to stare.

I wonder if they wonder:  Who is she?  Where is she going?

Roland has a drawl.  He is old and crinkled.  His right eye is cloudy.  I meet his grandson.  I let him know who I am but omit bits and pieces.  I don’t share my occupation.  I don’t know what the repair quote will be on Monday.  Not about to let Roland know what I do for a living.

I think about Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.”

My sister comes and gets me.  She tells me she will come and get me anywhere.  Her hug is strong and warm.  I am reminded that it’s not just me taking care of these girls in this world.  My brother-in-law secures a car rental home.

Everything is going to be O.K.

On the ride back they confess that this was a good trip.  That I handled it well.

That I didn’t even cry.

They don’t know that I push all my worry to the bottom of some pit.  I will need a car on Monday.  I tell myself there are car dealers.  I will send cash to Roland to fix what has got to be fixed.  That I will figure out how to get my hands on another car.

I think about people waiving at me from their porches.  I think about the tow truck man’s eyes licking my face and chest.  I think about triple A and the wad of cash dwindling in my pocket.  I think of service and cell phones. I think of Nate.  I think of my sister and that hug.

Adventures can be filled with good and bad.  They all bring about different sorts of opportunities.

I wave back to those people on the porch.

I am not sure exactly when I will make it back to Roland and that street in Hancock, Maryland.
An extension of myself is still sitting there.

Roland assures me, “There is no rush ma’am”

And there isn’t.