This is your brain. This is your brain on a snowy day when you forgot your cell phone and you don't have any reading material for the train
Yesterday was our first big snowstorm of the season. It really wasn't all that big, not a lot of snow was dumped, but it started out raining and then the temps dropped drastically, so we had a lot of ice under the snow and the roads were terrible.
I timed my trek to the train station after work so that I would arrive only moments before the train, but once there I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone at my desk. And that there was no time for me to go back to get it. This is not unusual. I forget my cell phone all the time. In fact, I consider my cell phone merely a portable answering machine. Not that anyone calls me on it. I have no friends, whine whine whine.
Anyway. It was a bit tricky that I forgotten my phone yesterday since I was supposed to pick Julia up from A's house because Kristin had meetings. This normally wouldn't have been something that would require the use of a phone, but my car had just spent the weekend and some change in my brother's shop for unexplained dead-battery behavior (unexplained because even though I had to get jumpstarts from strangers twice and Kristin once, once we got it to the shop it started for him every time beautifully -- he thinks it's got an intermittent short somewhere) and we had only picked it up because we needed to have 2 cars on this day and we decided to play the odds that it would act up again for the payoff that it wouldn't and Julia wouldn't have to stay at A's past pick-up time. So it was kinda important that I have my phone so that just in case we lost our bet with the car I could call A and let her know that I was on my way and/or call my brother to bitch at him (not about his mechanic skills but about my crappy luck).
But the other reason I was wanting my phone was because the weather was so bad and the roads so scary that I really wanted to be reachable in case of a terrible accident. And as soon as I articulated that thought to myself I began the slippery slide into anxiety and creative visualization.
See, I suddenly had the vision of Kristin being involved in a fatal car accident and someone trying to call me to let me know and since I didn’t have my phone with me, they wouldn’t be able to reach me until it was too late for me to see her while she was clinging to life and then I would have to live with the knowledge that if only I hadn’t forgotten my phone, I could have been with her at the end, screaming at doctors to do something, ANYTHING, to save her life and sobbing briefly, quietly, before returning to her side while she left the mangled wreck of her body for the peace of whatever comes next.
And then the visualizations just got worse.
And in them I forgot that I didn’t have my phone with me and then suddenly I’m getting The Call while driving to pick up Julia and am told that I need to get to X hospital immediately, so I hang up and call my parents and ask them to go to A’s and get Julia for me and bring her to the hospital and I’ll have to call A and let her know what’s going on… but then I realize that I don’t know where A lives or what her phone number is! Oh My God. What kind of a mother am I? I can’t call A and let her know what’s happened and I can’t give my parents the address so they can go get Julia and bring her to her mother’s death-bed. I mean, I mostly navigate by intuition and landmarks, and though I can try to tell them how to get there, the kinds of things I consider germaine most other people would think made no sense at all… “drive till it feels right to make a left turn, and then right past the thingy that looks like that one other thingy you make another right and then from there you…” but maybe my dad can figure it out… No, wait, I’ll call N, she knows where A lives and she’s on the emergency pick-up list and she’s much closer than my parents are, so she can get there sooner. But what if I get there without Julia and Kristin’s just been holding on so that she can see her daughter and I show up without Julia and Kristin can’t hold on any longer and so she dies in bitter disappointment and I will have to live with the knowledge that at this crucial moment I failed her and there’s nothing I can do to make up for it?
And so on, and so on, and so on.
Of course, the prospect of ME dying in a fiery, snowy crash never occurred to me because I am a terrific driver.* Remember? We had this conversation already. But what I didn’t tell you then is that if I am a great driver in fair weather, I am a virtuoso driver in foul. I am excellent in the snow. I had to be. When I was 19 I had to be to work at 5:30 AM, and I lived with my parents in a canyon 40 minutes away from my work on a dirt road that didn’t get plowed that early in the morning. And that was a bad year for snow. My car was a 1980 Chevy Monza (heavy, heavy bastard of a car) with rear-wheel drive and tires that were so bald I was excited when cords finally started showing cause I figured that gave me more traction. We lived down a hill from the main (read: paved) street, so that meant that to get up to the road one had to get up enough speed so that momentum would help you make it up the steepest part of that hill. In order to do that, one had to gather speed in our driveway (a fairly long driveway – the house sits on 2 ½ acres) and then not lose that speed when making a 90 degree right turn onto the dirt road so that one didn’t lose momentum. If you didn’t calculate your speed and didn’t time the turn just right, you would either 1) slow to a stop halfway up the hill and then slide backwards all the way down the hill, past the house and end up at the bottom of the hill, stuck, or 2) end up in the (slight) ditch/snow bank on the other side of the road from our driveway. It only took me 3 instances of having to wake my father up at 5 am so he could stumble into clothes and go get my car from where I had lodged it before I determined that I would 1) make certain that I didn’t get it stuck in either of the 2 places again and 2) if I did get it stuck, I would unstick it myself. Consequently I now have both the ability to judge what a car will do in icy, snowy conditions when performing certain maneuvers and a knack for getting vehicles unstuck without resorting to winches and 4-wheel drive.
So, this is what I thought about all the way to the train station parking lot, all the way to pick Julia up (my car deigned to start for me), all the way through the terrible traffic on the slippery roads home, and for the next 2 hours while I fed Julia, made dinner and waited for Kristin to make her way home from her work-related errands on the Very Bad Roads. Fun, huh? Don’t you want to be me? On nights like last night, neither do I.
Oh, and yes. Kristin was fine. She’s not a bad snow driver herself. And I’m planning on giving my parents A’s address so they have it just in case.
* yes, yes, I know that it would most likely be another, terrible snow driver that caused the accident that killed me, but all I can say to that is that I am such a great driver that I would probably intuitively sense the impending doom and take corrective action before the accident even began. Besides, if I was the one dying in a car accident, I wouldn’t have to be the one worrying about who to call and freaking out over the fact that I have no idea where my daughter’s daycare is even though I drop her off every morning, now would I? And where’s the fun in that?