Okay, okay. It’s an overly dramatic title. It’s more of a steady drip-drip-drip in multiple spots.
We had a severe thunderstorm Thursday night. You know, the capable of producing strong winds in excess of whatever, seek shelter in a sturdy structure kind.
I got home from work to a driveway full of leaves and branches. No big deal, it happens. They’re mostly small and pesky. I had to clear the porch to get the screen door open, but it wasn’t raining too hard right that minute, so I wasn’t worried about the electronics in my purse.
But when I got in.
No cats to be seen. They’re usually practically foaming at the mouth for attention when Ian and I have both been gone.
Cracks run the entire width of the living room. Where the hallway meets the living room, I can see insulation through the ripped and warped ceiling.
I dropped my purse, kicked off my shoes, and peeled back my sweater. I followed the panicky mewling to the kitchen, where Amarillo sat in the middle of the floor, freaking out. I pet and reassured her, and asked where Kitten was.
I received the lack of answer that I expected and began my initial damage assessment, calling for Kitten the whole time.
When I made it back to our bedroom, I took my dress off and put on a pair of shorts to go brave the wind and rain and lightning outside.
The visible damage is confined to the living room. I still hadn’t seen or heard Kitten.
I texted Ian to call me; he was still at work. When he called back, I told him a branch had hit our roof. He agreed to call the office manager while I went outside.
I dug a flashlight out of the coffee table and, barefoot, went to check the backyard.
The flashlight I had wasn’t meant for this. Lightning lit up the sky brightly and often enough for me to see three branches, ranging in diameter from four to eight inches, a dented scrape on the wall, and a large divot on the corner of the roof.
I recognized the hollow feeling inside me. Of course I recognized it; I’ve lived in fight-or-flight mode for most of the past five years. Panic tempered with acceptance. Fear and depression and calm. Letting the situation wash over me without actively acknowledging it. Giving up, but shrugging it off to keep slogging through the crap.
I couldn’t do anything about this.
I cleared the driveway so Ian would have somewhere to park. I freed the rosebush and tomato plant from the cages of downed branches. I collected our things that had blown into and across the street.
I went inside and stripped my wet clothes off, dropping them to slap on the bathroom floor. I don’t know why; my next step was to dress again before going back into the rain.
Ian called again. Our neighbor was bringing a tarp, and if it wasn’t big enough, the manager said there was one at number thirty-seven (in a row?) big enough to cover our entire roof. I answered our neighbor David’s knock as Ian was telling me that his wife said they had a ladder in their shed. David denied it, understandably: his wife was on the phone in her hospital room, doped up on pain medication after her knee replacement that morning. He agreed to search, but no ladder was to be found.
I decided it would be a good idea to put on socks and my old, ugly pair of sneakers before I did any more wandering around in the dark, on shattered, wet branches.
Since we didn’t have a ladder, I stood on one of our outside chairs on the porch, but it wasn’t tall enough for me to see on the roof.
I realized something at that point. I’m an idiot. My best friend and her husband own and operate a painting and drywall business. They have ladders galore.
I called her, and she and her husband agreed to get dressed and come immediately. I texted Ian the news, and four minutes later, he was on his way home from work.
I waited in front of the open door for someone to show up.
My friend and her husband made it first. He had just made it onto the roof when Ian got home and parked across the street.
He called down for pitch, and I held the ladder while my friend handed it up to him.
He called down for rags, and Ian grabbed ours from our truck.
He came down with black, tarry hands, and reported that the large gash was patched.
Ian helped him clean his hands with starting fluid, then he had to clean that off.
I stayed behind while they all took a field trip to see the branches in the back, then caught my friend up in the latest news of the custody dispute while Ian and her husband investigated the ceiling.
We thanked them profusely before they left.
Ian and I locked up and went to Subway for dinner, because fuck cooking just then, you know?
We came home, ate our sandwiches, watched America’s Test Kitchen, and went to bed. I had to get up and go to work, and Ian had to get up and start our fight with the park owner.
It has not gone well so far, even though she has on more than one occarion insisted that it is their tree, and if anything were to happen to our property because of their tree, they’d take care of it, no problem.
Why would you even invent a word if it didn’t rhyme with anything?
Hi, my name is April! My husband loooooves this pic almost as much as he loooooooves me!!! Aren’t I cute and quirky and just simply amazing?
P.S. This is Ian’s 3rd guest post!!!
Last October we started having problems with our AT&T data service. It became intermittently unavailable, but only at home. It took six months for them to admit that it was their fault, that our tower is one of the oldest and is extremely overloaded. At that time we began receiving a discount on our bill every month for data, since we have an unlimited plan and were not able to use data at our discretion.
In June when Ian called for the discount, it was refused. AT&T will no longer discount our bill, and insists that we pay for service that they will not provide. The only concession we were granted was a waiver of the early termination fee for the one line still under contract.
Tomorrow we’re going to Verizon. Instead of giving us the $60 discount every month, AT&T will be losing a longtime customer and thousands of dollars each year, whatever business sense that makes, I sure don’t know.
Tonight we’re resetting our phones and selling them, so *sniffle* I’ll be incommunicado for sixteen hours or so. I’ll miss you!!
I’ll also be sad about losing my 129 levels of progress in Coin Dozer Halloween, and my stopwatch didn’t quite make it to 20,000 hours. Oh well.
Last week we faxed our applications to the facility in Monroe for background checks so we could visit my brother. Wednesday we were approved, and since the restaurant was closed this morning and Ian had off, we left to make the 90 minute drive to visit.
I had no idea how hard that drive would be.
I was working in West Monroe when we were having problems, and I made this very drive almost every day. Always before, I’d dreaded having a job that required a long commute, but this was when I learned to love it. I appreciated having three hours all to myself every day, time to think and hash through my thoughts and feelings, and especially time to relax and let the stressors of the workday go.
We had a good car and a crappy car, so I’d take the good car since I was going three times as far. If I was heading home while it was still daytime and Ian had to close, I’d stop by his store on the way home and swap out vehicles.
It was one of those days that I stopped that I knew in my heart what was happening. Ian wasn’t in the store; his employees told me he was doing a ride along. I had just given up waiting and was headed to the car when he showed back up. With her. And I knew. I saw his face, and I saw her face, and I knew. But I still couldn’t admit it to myself.
I relived every single bit of that pain this morning. I tried to think of other things, any other things, but I couldn’t. I tried to just avoid looking at the signs, to pretend we were on some other stretch of road. Then I tried to watch the truck in front of us. Then a tiny patch of interstate directly in front of us. I ended up not letting my eyes stray from the reflection of the dashboard on the windshield, holding onto Ian, the occasional tear making its way from my eye.
And then the tread came off the front driver’s side tire. Neither one of us knew what had happened at first, we both thought something must have fallen from the 18 wheeler we were passing. Ian pulled over, and we surveyed the damage. Quite a bit, to say the least. Bumper, headlight, wheel well, quarter panel, door.
He’d pulled over a few dozen feet from an old packed dirt road, so we limped up there to change the tire. I called the insurance company to see if we could make a claim, and sure, it’s made, but we can’t afford the deductible right now, especially not knowing if we’ll have to pay another counselor in three weeks.
Ian got the tire changed, and of course the spare was low. I let him take a break while I walked down to see what mile marker we were near, and he called the state police to see if anyone was nearby, but we were fifty miles from each of them. I waited on hold for a few minutes trying to call the insurance company back for roadside assistance, but I gave up.
While we moseyed on down a few miles to a tiny town at the next exit, I called my stepfather to see if there was any way we could get a message to my brother. Understandably, he wasn’t optimistic, but he tried, and sent me a text later that he was able to leave a message, but doesn’t know if or when my brother will get it.
The only gas station on Main Street was long closed, with no air pump anyway. We went to the police station, which I was surprised to find locked, but someone came out and gave directions to another gas station a few blocks away. Where the air didn’t work. Ian came out of the store with an employee who punched the machine to get it working, and we headed back home.
This time I looked at the floor, and read the upside down Johnny’s Pizza coupon over and over, until Ian put his arm around me and pulled me to his shoulder. I finally asked, ‘if we go see my brother, can we go another way?’
And Ian promised me that we’d never come this way again.
My parents visited my brother yesterday and got some details of his escape. First of all, he and the other boy walked out the open door. What kind of place is this, anyway? Nobody even missed them for hours.
They ran through fields and ended up falling into a ten foot deep hole, where they had to dig steps into the side to climb out. They walked until they found a motel, where they told a guy who asked if they were okay that some girls ditched them, and they didn’t even know where they were. They got a ride to the nearest large city, where they went to a store and stole clothes, changing in an aisle and then walking out.
Then began their stay with some hobos, who shared their liquor and pot. They spent the night under a bridge and tagged along to a soup kitchen in the morning, where they were caught, unfortunately, before they got to eat.
It’s easy to laugh about it now. It’s easy to hear the story and marvel at their luck. It’s also easy to imagine the many forms their death or serious injury could have taken.
My brother knows I write, and he’s told me several times that I should write a book about him. I hope that’s not the reason he has such adventures.