It Pours

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.