Today, while at Neptune Park, I couldn't help but revisit a weekend in my life from April 2014 that sucked so colossally bad, it has taken me this long to reflect on the whole of it.
My blog post are always writing related, and this one is no different. There is a 'writing' point to it. But there are also several others points that came from this trip.
It's hard for and part of human nature, to own up to some uglier aspects of how we react to certain situations or how we treat people. Please stop reading this as I am about to embark on a journey that portrays me in a rather dark light. If you're brave enough, pray continue. But I have some things to say, mostly about myself, that are less than pleasant.
If you've read my Vulcan Legacies series you know that book 1, Black Amaranth, begins in North Carolina and ends in Georgia. More specifically, St. Simon's Island, Brunswick and Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.
My husband had been juried into their art show the spring of 2014, April, to be a little more precise. We have to travel through 5 states to get to St. Simons, so you understand that it is quite a haul from where we live. Roughly 12 hours. We had planned a min-vacation around his art show. Get to the island on Thursday, set up Friday, have Thursday and Friday as fun days, art show on the weekend, and our last fun day Monday. We would come home on Tuesday.
Here we are when we were still under the belief this was going to be an amazing vacation:
We leave the house Wed evening with the intentions of driving as far as we can before we become too tired to drive. We get about 3 hours down the road, and of course during these 3 hours the family discusses all the things we want to do, and the truck suddenly makes a noise and begins to shift awkwardly. We pull into a Go-Mart at Beckley, WV.
I'm praying that Tim can instantly diagnose the issue. After he pops the hood, I envision him closing it, rolling his eyes, brushing the dust off his hands as he comes around to the driver side window and says, "No biggie. Just a fuse. We're good to go." But that's not what he says. It was something along the lines of, "Huh... I don't know what's wrong with it."
At which point I was like, "Shit. We're only 3 hours from home. Maybe we should turn back."
My darling, sweet, optimistic husband felt like rolling the dice and continuing with the journey. I, on the other hand, was extremely apprehensive about pressing forward. But in the end, Tim won out. I will attribute this lack of what is usually good judgment to his excitement about his art show.
We drive through Virginia, North Carolina and get to the border of South Carolina. Each time we come to a stop, the truck just sounds like it is going to die. I'm not a mechanic, but it was all wrong. It was obviously wrong. But if Tim's child-like excitement could've mechanically operated the truck, we could've went to Disney World and back without issue. Unfortunately, excitement will only get you so far.
We stopped at a motel around 5AM, slept until 8AM, and hit the road. We went to the first auto part store we could find, only to spend $200 in parts that didn't fix the problem. Tim's theory was that we continue to press forward to GA, and of course mine was dwelling in the past, aka. "Tim, I told you in Beckley, you know that city that is still in the same F#$%ing state we live in, that we should've went home. Of course you want to go to GA, because we are now geographically closer to GA than we are to home. This was your plan all along!" You start to turn on each other and go a little crazy when shit hits the fan. But trust me, this was only the beginning. We, as a family, would be tested. Oh, we would be tested....
At this point I am chewing on the side of my jaw, telepathically trying to will the truck to not break down. And just when I thought I was getting somewhere, 12 miles from St. Simons, the truck breaks down. This was a very ugly moment for me where a string on unsavory words swiftly left a mouth that prior to this event, I would not have been ashamed to kiss my mother with.
At this point there was no option left but to rent a vehicle. To compound the problem our truck was loaded down with several paintings so it wasn't like we could rent an economy car. No, we needed a truck or something larger. And if I left out the part of we were on a budget, I'll insert that here. So, this was awesome news... to be stranded 12 hours away from home with my husbands entire art collection in the back. We set off on foot to an Enterprise that is luckily a block away. We're angry, sweaty, pissed off and looked like a dustbowl family by this point. I'm pretty sure the other customers were a bit afraid as our family comes strolling up in the joint. To our disappointment, Enterprise would not rent us a vehicle because of being out of state. A year later I still think that's a bogus excuse and the real reason was because I looked and acted like the crazy lady pictured above. It was awful. I didn't think it could any worse. Oh, it did. It sure did.
After trying every rental in the area we walked, broken in spirit and wallet in hand, to U-Haul. We got there literally 10 minutes before my bank was ready to close. Tim and the girls were standing outside as I'm talking with the lady running the joint. The good news was that she was willing to rent me a U-Haul. The bad news was my debit card was being declined. I'm ready to seriously lose it even more than before. It was a big cruel carrot dangling in front of my face and by damn I was going to get my hands on a damn U-Haul even if I had to kill for it. I frantically call my bank and ask what the in the hell is the hold up... why is my card being denied? The bank teller proceeds to tell me that GA is on their fraud list, which surprises me because a few months before my card info was stolen from someone in New Jersey. It made no sense to me that New Jersey wouldn't be on this list, but something about GA made them suspicious. Whatever. After getting that hammered out, the lady then asks me how many is in my party because the only van she has happens to be the biggest damn van available to man, and only had two seats. Of course I answer by saying, "Oh that won't be a problem. It's just me and my husband." *insert an innocence smile here* While she is bending over to grab the paperwork off her printer I run outside and tell my husband to hide the kids in the bushes. I kid you not.
We get the U-Haul, smuggle the kids in and set off to the truck. We grab Tim's art work/entire booth and head off to set up the booth on the island. My favorite part was where we had to have the girls lie down in the back of the U-Haul with a moving blanket tossed over them. All I could do was pray we wouldn't get pulled over. I had no choice at this point but to smuggle the kids everywhere we went.
2 hours later, Tim's booth is set up for his weekend art show and we go and check in at the hotel back in Brunswick. After checking in we go to our room to try and digest everything that happened and what we were going to do. I immediately call a tow company in GA and one back home. The cost to tow Tim's truck back came out to roughly $3000.00. I threw up a little in my mouth. I honestly had no idea what in the hell we were going to do. I decide to check our account, already knowing there wasn't anywhere near $3000.00 in our account, but one can always hope that something miraculous happened like your bank made a colossal mistake and they were waiting for the moment you needed it most to pay you back. That wasn't the case. The case was not only were we near broke, but then I had the pleasure of finding out that the motel in SC was continuing to debit my already dwindling account. My bank is closed at this point so I naturally call the motel we stayed at only for them to tell me they had no clue what I was talking about. It was painful.
My husband, who really puts up with more than he should, decides to make lemonade out of lemons. He suggests that we've had a terrible day (understatement of the year) and the hotel has an indoor pool. Why don't we go unwind for a few? I was already drowning in my own tears so I figured I may as well go wash them off. Tim the girls and I quickly change in to our swimsuits and proceed downstairs. The pool is open until 11PM. We get down there at 10:15PM. 45 minutes was plenty. The hotel receptionist thought it would be a good idea to remind me that I had kids and they could only swim until 11PM. I took a deep breath and proceeded to tell him that I wasn't illiterate, I was able to read and understand the sign as it was clearly written, tell him about my wonderful trip so far, and tell him to back off. I was a coiled cobra ready to strike and did. Not nice. I know. Really, I do. But by this point, I assure you the pool closing in 45 minutes was the least of my worries. Nothing was going to stop us from swimming in that damn pool. By this time I had become quite crafty at smuggling my kids into things. I felt confident the pool would be a piece of cake.
And this was me rationalizing my psychotic behavior to my husband.
Move forward to Saturday, the first day of Tim's art show. I'll save you the suspense... he sold nothing. So here the girls and I are walking around with me pretty much telling them they can't have anything because at this point I'm wondering how to feed them and contemplating selling a kidney on the black market to do it.
I made several distress calls and I have wonderful family and friends. Truly, I do. The issue wasn't having someone to come get us, that part was easy. The problem was we had no idea how to get Tim's big ass broken down truck home. I voted to leave it. I was positive before embarking on this vacation from hell, that his truck was possessed. This only confirmed my suspicion. Prior to this trip, the truck had went through 2 transmissions and 2 engines. Oh, and I loved this. During one of the transmission re-build projects, Tim and girls are literally on their way back home from the garage and a turkey flew into the windshield, busting through it, costing us $200 and to this day my kids are afraid of turkeys. They are bigger than you think.
At any rate, Sunday rolls around and nothing, absolutely nothing is improving our mood. We have to turn our U-Haul in the next day which will leave us stranded far, far, far from home. But in all this (recap real quick--motel stealing money, Enterprise turning us away due to crazy appearance, Tim not selling anything, smuggling our kids like border jumpers) the straw the broke this mothers back was on the very last day of the show, I take the kids to a park that is near to pass some time and hopefully for them to have some fun with other kids.
We walk in to this park, this public park, and wouldn't you know Easter is the next weekend and there happens to be a "Mother's Club" Easter egg hunt going on. There are kids everywhere dressed in beautiful dresses, boys in suits, mom's that looked like Stepford Wives. And wouldn't you know this damn thing is catered, with beautiful cakes and treats and baskets.
And here are my poor kids that looked like panhandling hobos. I'm sure for added effect, they even had mud smudged on their little faces. We couldn't have looked any more desperate. I watch the light shine in my kids eyes as they grow big taking in the sight before them. And my heart sank. My kids were too little to understand, but I could see immediately that this was a private club which pissed me off because if that was the case (and it was) they should've had it at a private place, not in a public one where my kids couldn't understand why everyone else had Easter baskets and eggs but them.
At this point all I could see was Coach diaper bags, Chanel purses and Ralph Lauren dresses. And it was simply too much.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, because it was really ugly on my part, but suffice it to say that when my youngest sat down beside a tree and silently wept from a broken heart, mama bear rose her head and tore the place apart. I may have even said something along the lines of "I killed the f***ing Easter Bunny." I don't remember (or I've been trying to suppress the devil that came out of me) ... I blacked out and things went hazy. I told you this wasn't going to be pretty. I'm human. I will own up to my ugly behavior. They made my baby cry so in my fragile, very emotionally broken mind, I guess I thought it was okay to ruin their party.
I'll cut to the chase and say that the girls and I left. We went down to the beach on St. Simons and I plopped down and looked across the way where I could see Jekyll Island, home to my beautiful Driftwood Beach, the place that is featured in my book and the only place I wanted to see while down there. And I cried. I could see it, it was so close and yet so far away. And I knew I wouldn't be able to go there. But I cried for so many other things.
At the end of the show, my poor husband sold 2 prints. To say the show went poorly doesn't quite express how profoundly we felt the financial impact. It sucked.
We loaded up and went back to our hotel room. Our hearts were broken. Our spirits shattered. We finally admitted that our vacation was akin to hell. St. Simons whipped our asses.
Just when all hope was lost, our dear friend, Tim Heater, called to answer our prayers. He is coming to get us... with a trailer large enough to haul Tim's beast back. I couldn't believe it. I was stunned. He took off work and drove 12 hours down to GA to pick us up.
On our way back home, it also happened to be my birthday. I'm a big girl and the excitement of birthday's have long since wore off for me. But in the spirit of my birthday, the guys decide to stop at a Mexican place to celebrate.
I think this was a place in South Carolina. It was an all in one stop. You could order an enchilada, get your tires changed, speak with a bails bondman and get a tattoo. I'm sure they were cooking up fajitas and meth in the back. I told the kids to hold their breath. We ate and booked it.
I'll wrap this up by saying on the way home, a tire blew out, we had to stop, I get a call that one of my beloved clients passed away, and we hit a lovely snow storm in the mountains. There's more. I know there is. It was a trip I will never forget. But regardless of how terrible and scaring this trip was, the moment our friend drove us up our driveway, I had tears of gratitude in my eyes.
At the end of the day it really didn't matter that Tim's truck broke down. It didn't matter that we had no money and upon return home we had to cash in our life savings at a damn Coin Star. It didn't matter that the show was an epic fail. It didn't matter that I ruined the Mothers Club Easter egg extravaganza *insert evil laugh here while I'm sanding my hands together and laughing "bwahahaha"*. (Remember, those bitches made my babies cry and feel unwelcomed, I'm not ready to let this one go.) None of those things mattered any more.
What mattered was we made it home thanks to a friend who demonstrated an act so kind I'll never be able to pay it forward enough to make up for how he helped my family.
I felt like an indentured servant who was finally free to move my family to the frontier where we could start over.
At the end of the day I had what mattered most in the world, and I still have it... my wonderful family who was with me the entire way and a friend far better than I deserve.