So remember my whole “the years are short, but the days are long” thing from yesterday morning’s blog post? Yeah. Yesterday was long. As I mentioned in that post, I spent the past two days trekking back across the frozen, snowy “heartland" of America with Jill, after a visit to our families in Chicago. The risk of driving across the midwest this time of year is the weather, and yesterday it played a factor in our adventures. We knew when we left Chicago we’d have less than an ideal drive home, but little did we know the type of day the universe had in store for us.
The day began around 430am CST, with Jill tossing and turning with a stomach ache and me now wide away with a splitting headache. Unlike a good percentage of the rest of the world, we were not experiencing the side effects of too much partying and champagne. Our New Year’s Eve was uneventful, spent in a crappy hotel off I-80 in Lincoln, NE - the halfway point for our trip.
Deciding we were up and there was no point in waiting any longer we ended up hitting the road around 6am CST. The drive was tense from the start as my headache was not dying down, despite taking something for it. Jill fell asleep almost instantly which left me using all my energy trying to ignore the pain and focus on the road. The further west we got, icier and ickier the conditions became. We were driving through the heart of the storm and I was relying fully on my safe driving instincts and 4-Wheel Drive (thanks, Subaru). Once the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer no longer kept me company enough I woke Jill up around 9 to help me stay alert.
The headache never went away and the weather never got better but we had made it to about 150 miles outside of Denver without incident. Then, I changed lanes to move around someone up ahead aways who I could tell was going far too slow for the highway, even in the conditions. I thought it better to get over now than to continue to gain on them and have to make a move closer to their vehicle. This ended up being a good move, because about 10 seconds after moving over a lane, we hit a patch of black ice and my wheels lost grip of the road.
We spun 3-4 times, crossing over to the right lane and eventually the ditch on the side of the road. Lucky for us, no one else was anywhere near us on the road which gave me time to calmly regain control as best I could and to the best to limit how far into the ditch we spun. When the dust settled we were fine. Absolutely fine. No injuries, no damage to the car. Just higher blood pressure. We were able to drive right back up from the ditch and re-emerge on the road and drive the rest of the way home without issue.
Jill and I talked about being blessed as we had driven by 4-5 other accidents that day, all looking much worse that ours, and car accidents are always fresh on my mind as I’ve lost 5 friends and 3 family members to car crashes, and also had an aunt and another group of friends banged up pretty bad in car accidents as well. I drove away unscathed from what could have been much, much worse. Close call.
Then we got home.
While we were gone, Jill’s house in Denver was robbed, and she and her two roommates had quite a bit stolen, although Jill didn’t know the extent until we arrived to her house today. It’s a creepy feeling to sit in your room looking at rustled furniture and blank walls where jewelry used to hang. I could tell Jill was a bit unnerved by the idea that some jerk had rifled through her belongings and taken what he wanted. Among the things missing was a spare key to her car. We went to check on it, only to find the back windshield busted up.
The concern for Jill now became what order was she supposed to do things and how was she supposed to do them. She had to talk to two insurance companies (renter’s, car), a glass company, and also call the detective who was handling the break in. Of course its New Year’s Day so no one was in, and the various customer service teams she did reach were unhelpful at best. We sat in her living room and I could see this all boiling up to overwhelm her, as it would most people. This day had become one thing after another, one frustration after another, on thing wrong after another. Then she looks at me with a face of defeat and says abruptly and in a monotone voice, “Andrew. It’s hailing.”
It was f****ing hailing.
I run out to her car to to the best I could to cover the back windshield to stop the elements from coming in. At this point Jill had become extremely concerned about the idea of a thief with the key to her car and easy access, so I ran to the hardware store to get a better solution for the window as well as a club lock for her steering wheel and a few other items I thought would help the girls out. Like wine.
The hail decided to become harder as I covered up her window and specifically seemed to be targeting my head, which I should mention at this point has now actually started to feel worse after 10 hours of constant pain.
Finally I got the window sealed up from the elements, the car as thief-proof as it needed to be save for removing the battery or a wheel for the night, So how’s that for an entrance into 2014 folks? “Some bullshit right there.” as my roommate described it. Yes, yesterday was quite the day.
But here’s the thing, I’m alive. I’m achy and feel like I just spent a day like a tennis ball bouncing around in the dryer, but I’m alive. Jill’s alive. And I’ll be honest, yesterday made us stronger - to reference the cliché. We had some great conversation in the car, we never ended up at each others’ throats, and we managed to sort through the mess and have a plan for getting everything fixed, reported, amended and so on today. I got to step up and be a problems solver (something I like) and to show Jill fully and completely that I’m here to care for her. So yesterday may have tried to kill us, but it didn’t. It just made us appreciate getting to wake up the day after that much more.
So after all of that I was ready to go back inside and warm up with some tea and start planning my escape from this day into tomorrow.
Or, I could wipe out on the cement steps to the front porch where black ice had formed. Yeah. I did that.