I wrote this Wednesday evening, as we drove to the Big Trees area of California. Since we’ve been here, there has been no cell service, so forgive this late posting!
Jonathan and I are on another road trip.
This time we’re driving down an old California highway, through forest and field, to my aunt’s cabin. It’s dark out, but the moon is full enough* to illuminate the surrounding scenery. We’ve been talking about work and the last time either of us had been down this road, between bites of cheap-o pizza.
“I haven’t been down here since I dated…”
“Yeah, I know. The guy you were kind of a jerk to.”
“…..yeeeaaaaah. I still feel bad about that.” And I do. He was a really nice guy, and I thought I loved him. Only problem was, I was
kind of definitely a jerk to him. I was a stupid teenager who didn’t know what she wanted in a relationship, or how to be clear the relationship I was “in” wasn’t a mutually exclusive one. Oops. I’m over that now.
Jonathan pops in a cd, and starts singing along in his adorable pseudo-falsetto singing voice. He hasn’t quite discovered how to utilise his proper singing voice, but he’s so cute when he gets into the song that I just smile and shake my head. At least this time it isn’t Katy Perry**. We’ve been harangued by fog off and on, and there are patches on the road so thick you can’t see 50 feet ahead of you.
We drive past an open space, with a house in the distance. The lights are on, and the warm glow spills out into the darkness, creating a small island of gold in a sea of inky black. I like to imagine the family inside is gathered in the living room, with a fire roaring in the hearth. Maybe they’re baking a pie in preparation for tomorrow, or maybe they’re sitting down to a brutal game of Scrabble (in which Dad pockets an extra “E” when no one is looking, and Mom wins thanks to her collection of harlequin romance novels that use a million different adjectives to describe the hero’s pecs). In any case, I hope they’re warm, and happy, and thankful for family and food and friendship.
The fog is back, thick as last night’s pea soup on the back porch in 30° weather, thick as thieves***, thick as the hair on an Armenian man’s arms…or back. It’s hauntingly beautiful, settling over the trees and hills like a soft grey blanket. At one point there is a break in the trees and I see a bank of low mountains, tops shrouded in mist, their flanks disappearing into an ocean of cloud. The sky above is clear and the stars are shockingly bright; it seems like the same stars I see at home have tripled up here in the clean, crisp air. The moon hangs over the scene like a spotlight, and a passing jet leaves a vapour trail that captures some of the moon glow and creates a spear of light against the dark sky.
I turn back to the road in time to see Jonathan start to swerve and hit the brakes in a panic. Adrenaline explodes from some part of me, deep in my chest, and I instinctively reach out my left arm in a soccer-mom fashion to protect Jonathan. The moment of fear is over as quickly as it started, and I see a furry lump dash off to the right.
“Stupid raccoons.” I mutter. “I hate those fuzzy morons, but thank you for not ruining my car.” Jonathan nods in his self-satisfied way and goes back to his singing. I hit a raccoon once, barely a year after I had first gotten my car****. It was near Christmas, and I was driving down a back road to my mom’s house, when this thing the size of a dog darts out in front of me. I didn’t have time to even touch the brake. CRUNCHthump and it was over…for most of my front end. I turned around to see where the raccoon had gone, but it had disappeared. For all the damage it did, it may have been made of steel. Cracked radiator, broken fog light, broken bumper mounts, ripped off gravel shield…grand total for repairs: (including a minor paint touch up) $1635. Thank goodness for full-coverage insurance! The adjuster who came to inspect the damage said I got off lucky; many of the cars he saw that had hit raccoons had to be totalled. Those things are definitely not on my good list, even more so since they harass my cat.
We’ve now been in the car nearly three hours, twisting and turning through roads and valleys and tiny towns I have never heard of. The temperature has dropped as we’ve increased elevation, and so has the cell signal. We get to the neighbourhood my aunt’s cabin is in, and start to navigate through the maze of streets. We miss a turn, and I panic: no service, how will this stupid Apple maps app recalculate?! But I am surprised to see that it does, and after a few more turns we reach her street. After nearly passing the house in the darkness, I spy her outside waving at us. We park and unload our stuff, stepping gingerly down the slippery wooden stairs.
It’s a cute little place, with wood panelling everywhere and a spectacular view that we cant see because it’s dark out. The heater in our room is humming and it’s toasty warm. I yawn and stretch and climb in between the clean sheets, and decide to torture my brain with a few Lovecraft stories, wondering where the heck he came up with these fiendish, terrible ideas. After thoroughly creeping myself out, it is time for bed, for tomorrow we feast. Bring me some ZZZs and then bring me some pie!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone (even you, Canadians, though your Thanksgiving was last month). I am thankful for my loving family (no matter how strange they seem to be), my amazing friends (“real life” and on the Internet, near and very far away), my job, my pets, my car, my clothes (of which I always seem to accumulate more and more…), my health and sanity, and of course my wonderful husband (even when he doesn’t share the Xbox or farts so much it’s like walking into a gas chamber).
What are you thankful for? Please don’t tell me it’s the Black Friday deals!
*Waxing quarter, to those lunar lovers out there.
**I lied. it wasKaty Perry. I walked into our room last night to find him singing along and dancing to “Part of Me” while he was putting laundry away. “What?! I’m not ashamed of it!” He protests, when I look at him with my “seriously?!” eyebrows.
***I never really understood that phrase, but I needed something to put there. Feel free to educate me, Internet.
****A silver 2007 Volvo S60 inline 5 turbo charged monster that looks tame but has a lot of torque. Especially when I stomp on the gas, as I am known to do sometimes…