LIFE SUCKS

This is the story of how in one weekend I went to a funeral to mourn the death of a 45 year old man and then went to a birthday party to celebrate the life of my 90 year old Grandma; but first I broke my car trying to get from Seattle to San Francisco and almost missed the whole thing.

PART ONE:

LIFE SUCKS

 We had been planning my Grandma’s 90th birthday party for months.  It was going to be a big event with all her friends and family in a special restaurant in Santa Rosa, California.  Sasha & I were going to take a week off work and drive down with Finn in my reliable ’97 Buick Le Sabre.  It may look like an old, white man’s car, but it runs like a dream and I have never had any problems with it after buying it off Craig’s List 6 years ago.  It is like a couch on wheels.  We were going to take a few extra days at the beginning of our trip and drive down the coast, making several beautiful, ocean-side stops along the way.

My company had been for sale for an entire year and the sale had finally just gone through about a week before my vacation.  We had a staff meeting soon after the announcement of the sale.  I assumed the meeting was to celebrate, but it was only to tell us that the company that bought us as an attachment to another, more successful company, did not really want us and were putting us back up for sale while they kept the other company they were really after. Thus, within a few days, we were for sale, bought and for sale once again.  After learning the news I became depressed for about 24 hours.  Over the last year I had become accustomed to living in a black hole, not knowing what was going to happen.  I did not want to live in darkness any longer, but at least I am used to it, so I quickly moved on from the crappy news.  I still had a job for the time being, after all.

Then, on 9/11, I received an unexpected and terrible blow on a personal level.  A family friend and old San Francisco roommate of mine was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident on his way to work.  He was my brother’s best friend, a good friend to my sister for 30 years and an all around good person.  He left behind an 8 year old son.  The funeral was going to be the following Friday morning in San Francisco, where John was born and raised.  I wanted to go.  I needed to be there.  In order to make the service, we would have to alter our plans and save the coastal drive for our return trip. We would get to my sister’s house in Ukiah by Thursday evening and then would drive the last two hours to San Francisco early Friday morning.

Two nights before our trip, Sasha got food poisoning.  I woke up in the middle of the night to find him lying on the bathroom floor in a pool of his own sick.  Sasha is a fantastic barfer.  Most people are able to sense the impending upchuck and get to a toilet in time.  Not Sasha.  His vomit is always sudden and plentiful.  Our first new years eve together in 1999 (party!), he damn near destroyed the carpet in my studio apartment.  This time he at least made it to the bathroom, but the flowery, silk outer shower curtain bore the brunt of the reappearance of his Ezell’s fried chicken.  I was relating the tale of Sasha’s stomach woe on top of my work & grief woes to my friend and I had the audacity to ask the universe: What Next?

Day one of our two day drive to California could not have been improved.  Sasha was feeling better and Finn slept most of the way.  We were going to try and get as far as Medford, Oregon which is just under eight hours of driving.  As we got closer, we kept seeing signs for the Seven Feathers Casino Resort, who had just finished a remodel.  We knew we could get a nice room for the same price as a crappy room at a random Best Western, so we ended our day of driving a bit prematurely and took full use of their pool.

Sasha usually ends up doing most of the driving, but I wanted to do the first leg of day two, because I don’t like the last stretch into Ukiah.  I forgot that I would be driving the mountainess area of Grants Pass, Oregon.  I was doing fine, but the steep inclines and huge logging trucks all around us made me a little nervous.  At one point I was going up a steep grade and made a grunting sound trying to encourage the car to get a little power.  As I was driving up and up on Interstate 5, Sasha said it would be easier if I put the car into 3rd gear, but instead I accidentally put it into reverse and instantly knew we were screwed.  The car made a terrible, sick sound.  I had just enough momentum to avoid giant trucks and pull it across 2 lanes of traffic to rest it on the shoulder.  The shoulder part of the road is also used by giant trucks who are trying to let faster moving vehicles by, so they had to steer around us making the moment that more terrifying.  and yes, it is near impossible to throw your car into reverse while moving in the forward overdrive position on the freeway, but somehow I managed it.

For a full minute I sat with my head in my hands.  The engine was running, but the car would not budge.  I knew this had happened because we had failed to renew our AAA membership that year.  The rule is, if you have AAA, you do not need it.  We called them anyway and they let us renew our membership before coming to get us.  They said it would be 40 minutes for a tow, but the guy arrived within 20.  No car seat, so we strapped Finn into the truck with a regular seat belt.  Our second moment of bad luck was getting towed to a dealership instead of the local transmission repair shop. 

We spent 3 hours at the dealership going back and forth over how they could help us and this was before they even looked at the car.  This was smack during Finn’s nap time, plus he did not get much lunch, so he was like a wild animal.  If we waited around to see what kind of repairs the car needed, we would miss the funeral.  I called the two car rental places in the small town, which were completely sold out.  We considered trying to get the car towed to the repair shop that would be cheaper and quicker, but the dealership had car rentals for $25 per day.  This decided us to use the services of the dealership.  When I tried to arrange for the rental car the guy suddenly said: “Oh, I forgot, we don’t usually let people take our cars out of state”.  This is when the culmination of stress, heartache and anxiety caused me to burst into tears in front of this total stranger.  I told him I have the most awful luck on earth and that this was the 3rd worst month of my life.  The tears worked.  He let us have the car.  We quickly transferred our tons of luggage from the Buick, gave it a kiss and abandoned it in the parking lot in this weird Oregon town. 

car1

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO:

LESSONS LEARNED

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6 Comments on “LIFE SUCKS”

  1. Eleanor Says:

    I just wanted to let you know, apropos your comment to me, that I LOVE YOU too! And yes, we’re talking west coast, Victoria, B.C. in fact. We’ll have to take advantage of this convergence.

  2. Cat Says:

    Colleen, I wish you hadn’t even read my entry. Even in the midst of all you’ve been going through, you still managed to leave a comment so warm and loving that you’ve left me deeply touched and in awe of you. I can’t hug you over the miles, but if you need to talk, my email address is there. I’ll always listen.

  3. Kim Says:

    Oh you poor poor thing, I am so sorry you went through that! I hope you & the family are doing ok today. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend; I hope you made it ok to the funeral. Thinking of you! xoxoxo

  4. For-Tart Says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss your family is experiencing. Stay strong.

  5. Frank Says:

    Watch out for the roads in Grants Pass! they’ll get you!

  6. Coralyn Says:

    A few years ago I’d have to pay someone for this intrimafoon.


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