Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mixed Feelings

1. Pretty beach house - 2. Happy bananas - 3. Free wi-fi - 4. Bry Bry

This last week has been an emotional one for sure.  I started out excited about finding out I was pregnant, but then found out I wasn't after all.  Boo.  (But, while we're on the subject, thank you so much for all of your sweet, thoughtful, helpful comments.  I read every one and each time I was so touched by your love and care.  Thank you.)

Then, Bryan and I were going to go on a trip to check out a place where we might want to live after Bryan's done with school.  We've been talking about it (the place and the trip) for months now and I was so excited about it.  We'd be leaving Olivia in the care of Bryan's mom and having a few days to ourselves.  At the beach.  Without a two year old.  So you can relate, I'm sure, to my frustration when Olivia got sick and was throwing up the morning of the day we were supposed to leave on our little escapade.

Luckily she got better fast and we were able to leave the next day, but not after I let out some frustration about this unexpected change in plans.  Sometimes I feel like my entire life is an unexpected change in plans. Sometimes I'm pretty good at taking it all in stride.  And sometimes I just want to throw a tantrum.  Uhh... I might have not been taking it all in stride very well these last few days.

1. Stacking shells - 2. Me in the mirror - 3. Driving - 4. Looking at neighborhoods

But we had a nice drive down to the town we wanted to check out and things seemed to be on the mend.  "This is going to be a nice trip after all," I thought.  And it was.  Right up until the time when we pulled into our motel.

We had already made reservations online or else I would have said, "No way," as soon as we pulled up to the place.  Not the worst place I can imagine, but definitely on my list of "I don't ever want to stay here" kind of places.  We went inside and got our keys, but when we went back out, the sketchy guys that had been outside when we went in started totally fighting.  Luckily the fighting was verbal and only sort of physical, but I swear I saw one of them (the more angry of the two) packing a gun and I had no desire to stay there any longer.  Oh, and, by the way, they were putting on this whole scene right in front of our room.

I told Bryan we should go and come back later, so we left and headed down to the beach.  Where I bawled.  The whole day (which started out with me finding out I wasn't pregnant after all) had already been such an emotional roller coaster and now there were really scary guys fighting in front of our room.  I thought about having to sleep there (or, rather, how I knew I wouldn't get any sleep there) and I just felt miserable.  Bring on the pity party.

Finally, I calmed down and called the guy at the front desk of the motel.  I explained everything and said I just didn't feel comfortable staying there now.  He talked to the manager and they refunded us the payment for our room.  We went and booked a room at another motel (not nearly so sketchy) and then went out for some pizza and visited the beach again.  "Okay, this is going to be a good trip after all," I told myself again.

On our way home that night we drove past the first motel.  There were two police cars out front.

1. Beach - 2. Nugs & honey - 3. Sweet onion chicken teriyaki -4. Pretty blue beach house

The next day we visited some optometrist offices in the area that Bryan had looked at ahead of time online.  Mostly we ended up talking to receptionists, but he was able to drop off resumes and hopefully leave a good impression.  Then we went to look at some neighborhoods that had been recommended to us by a contact we had in the area.  Then we went back to the beach again.  

We had planned on staying another night, but at this point we were both feeling done and ready to just head back.  So we canceled our reservation at the other motel and headed back.  It was about a 6 1/2 hour drive that ended up being more like 10 hours.  Many of you are probably aware of (and personally experienced) the huge storm that swept through a lot of the mid-western and eastern United States last night.  Well, we were out driving when it hit.

As a last resort, we had been listening to Twilight (book on CD) when it started getting pretty windy.  I stopped the CD and turned on the radio just in time to hear the national weather warning about the storm.  "Winds up to 60 miles per hour causing widespread damage.  Get off the roads and get inside and stay away from the windows.  Will hit here at 11:00 pm.  Will hit here at 11:15 pm.  Will hit here at 11:20 pm..."  

I was terrified.

We got off the freeway as quickly as we could and pulled up to a gas station.  The lights were out.  The door to the little convenience store was hanging off its hinges.  A trash can had blown over and debris littered the ground all around.  There were several other cars (their occupants still in them) parked around the otherwise deserted gas station and, not having a better alternative at that point, we parked in between them and waited.

I was involuntarily shaking.  I was so terrified.  The lightning was flashing like a strobe light.  Flash.  Flash.  Flash.  Flash.  Flash.  Bright sky.  Ceaseless.  The rain came down hard and swept across the car in sheets, pushed relentlessly by the extreme winds. I held Bryan's hand and squeezed it like when I was in labor.  I couldn't help it.  I wasn't screaming or lashing out.  Just constantly whimpering and squeezing Bryan's hand as though it would keep all four tires firmly on the ground.

We prayed.  And we kept listening to the rap radio station I had found with the storm warnings.  Bryan called home and they said that the storm had already passed over them.  Olivia had slept through it.  They looked up where we were and said that the storm would pass by about 11:05 pm.  It was somewhere around 10:50 pm when we called.  We waited.  11:00 pm.  11:05 pm.  Still the rain pelted our windows and the thunder kept rolling like an army of semi trucks and the lighting kept up its relentless strobe.  

Bryan called home again and the update said the storm would pass where we were at 11:15 pm.  11:10pm.  11:15 pm. The lessening of the storm was almost indistinguishable.  But slowly, slowly, the rain died down just a little.  The thunder was the first thing to go entirely, much to my relief.  The lightning still struck frequently like a terrible warning sign.  But the wind was gone now.  And I had begun to feel calm.  We were alive.  Our car wasn't smashed against anything.  And the storm was going away.

The cars and trucks around us began to trickle back onto the freeway and, eventually, we followed.  It was scary to be back on the road again.  When we were parked at the dark gas station we had been facing a white brick wall that kept us from seeing too much of what was going on.  Now I could see the lighting again in full force and all the millions and millions of pine needles swept across the road.

We drove a ways and then traffic slowed until we were barely inching along.  Every hill and turn showed nothing but an eternal string of break lights.  It felt like this night was never going to end.

Eventually, I insisted that we get off at the next exit so Bryan could get some caffeinated soda to help him stay awake and so I could use the restroom.  There was a McDonald's at the exit where we could take care of both errands.  The exit was only a mile away, but it took us a long time to get there.  Finally, when we made it off the exit, we found that the power was out.  Dark McDonald's.  Dark gas stations.  Dark everything.  The only thing shining in brilliant bright lights was a fire station just down the road.  

We pulled in and a kind firewoman let us use the restroom.  The whole building was bustling with firemen and women at work.  Chainsaws.  The sound of a generator going.  Inside we both used the bathroom and asked what was making the traffic move so slowly out on the freeway.  The woman who had let us in to use the bathrooms told us that a tree had fallen onto the road.  She and the woman standing next to her had just come back from there.  It was cleared out now and traffic should pick up soon.  Either way, it was only about five miles up, so we'd be on our way more quickly soon.  It was sometime around midnight then.

We got back in the car and, sure enough, after inching along for another five miles, the speed picked back up to an almost-normal pace.  Estimated time of arrival: 1:20 am.

Aside from the occasional strike of lightning (without that booming thunder, thank goodness), we made it home to Bryan's parents' house, finally arriving around 2:00 am.  The relief I felt to finally be there--inside a big, comfortable house with the lights on and no trace of panic inside--is hard to explain.  It was bizarre, almost, to walk in and find Bryan's younger brother still awake, just sitting on the couch with his computer, watching TV.  Hours before I had been worried I might never see my daughter again.  I was worried I might die.  And now, here was my brother-in-law, sitting on the couch without a care in the world.

Bryan's mom let us sleep in until 11:00 am this morning.  I didn't realize we had slept in so late until I saw the alarm clock.  I got dressed and went downstairs to find Olivia happily playing.  When she saw me her face lit up and she said, "Mommy!" and ran to hug me.  She hugged me over and over again for a long time, which I was surprised by.  Usually she's all loves for Daddy and somewhat uninterested in me, who she spends all day every day with.  It warmed my heart to have her hug me so tight and give me kisses without even being asked.  She kissed my cheeks and smiled wide and said, "I love-a you, Mommy," in her happy little voice.  She held on a long, long time.  Almost as if she knew how afraid I had been the night before that I might never see her again.  Finally, she got back down and continued playing.  Then we went upstairs where Bryan and I had breakfast while everybody else had lunch.

Before we went upstairs to eat, Bryan's mom asked me how I liked the town we visited.  It was hard to say. The beach was wonderful and beautiful.  But so much of the trip wasn't what I had planned or expected at all and it was hard to separate those feelings from what it might be like to just live peacefully in that town without all of the crazy things that happened on our trip.  "I'll have to think about it and try to answer that question later," I thought to myself.  Right now I have mixed feelings.


Amanda said...

Wow! What a crazy few days you have had! I'm so glad that you are safe and back with Olivia!

I'm so curious to know where you visited! I live in Southeast VA about 25 minutes from Virginia Beach. On one hand I hope you were visiting VB because it would be SO cool for you to live close by so we could meet and our girls could play. On the other hand, I really hope VB didnt leave that bad of an impression. eek!

Hope your trip back home is easy, fun, and uneventful! :)

Emily said...

Even though you just barely told me all of this, it was still so, so crazy to read about. I hope your next few days with family are so fun to make up for the terrible last couple of days you've had. Also I love that you got special Olivia hugs.

Kathy Haynie said...

Ugh for sketchy motels. I almost never make reservations online any more unless I know it's a reliable chain. I like to see it with my own eyes first.

Weather here in Oregon seems tame compared to the midwest / east coast weather. So glad everything turned out ok.

Lacey said...

Sorry, you had a crazy trip. Hope you're doing ok, we're excited to see you Monday!

Jennifer said...

Wow. Talk about intense. What would happen if you moved back to the West?

Erica and Spencer said...

That storm was insane last night! We are in the DC area for the summer and we were sitting on our couch planning out a trip that we were getting ready to take and our light kept flickering off and on. We thought it was our AC unit acting up or our neighbors upstairs doing something funny.

Finally I thought I heard rain outside so I looked out our balcony window and saw the crazy lightning. It was the most insane storm I have ever experienced. I was so glad that we weren't out in it. said the wind gusts were 70mph at Dulles and DCA.

I felt so blessed this morning when I woke up and heard how many people had lost power. We managed to keep our power (and our AC) which was such a blessing with the 100 degree temperatures.