Archive for car breaking down in the middle of nowhere

COLD STORAGE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by kimmy

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He probably remembers the details, but many of them are lost to me, buried under heaps of crazy emotions.  Fear, anxiety, mortification, desire.  I was only nineteen, so maybe I can be forgiven the last one. Even so, it was a pivotal moment in time for me.  It spelled the end of something that never quite began.

He was the kind of boy that a girl fantasizes about.  Not the happily-ever-after kind of fantasy, but the sweaty kind usually found in romance novels.  That it was discovered outside of books and imaginings was a pleasant surprise considering the disappointment that most adolescent girls face.  Awkward teenage fumblings were dismal compared to the promises made in literature and the popular 70s sex how-to manuals read in secret.

I wanted nothing more than uninterrupted time to explore these new-found sensations, maybe a lost weekend or two, to hole up with my playmate and plumb the depths and scale the heights, but there were endless obstacles.  He lived far away and visited only rarely, and when he did, there were roommates, housemates, work and school associates, and a maze of personal entanglements that constantly challenged me.  The moments we had became a torture because I wanted more and couldn’t have it.  It seemed the stars were always stacked against us…

… until one bitterly cold night.  We were driving my father’s giant Chrysler back to town when the unthinkable happened.  The car died and left us stranded somewhere on a lonely stretch of Illinois interstate.   And that’s when things really got interesting.

Not in the way one might suppose, but in the unexpected way deeply buried emotion percolates to the surface in time of crisis.  At first, paralysis, like I used to experience as a child when our family car would occasionally break down and my mother would collapse in hysterics and I would face the emergency alone knowing there wasn’t a sane adult to rely upon.

Then anxiety, wondering how on earth I could resolve the problem.  It never occurred to me that mechanical failure occurs on occasion; only that there was a pressing need for me to find some way to immediately resolve it.  Followed by mortification knowing that I was helpless to correct the problem and despite being finally alone with my dreamboat, the circumstances hardly lent themselves to torrid romance.   We spent the night huddled together against the cold until a state trooper came along and called for a tow truck.

Ironically, it was only the heater hose that needed replacement.  Within hours we were on our way, but for me, something had changed.  Maybe I finally recognized the patterns that had sabotaged my plans.  Perhaps I needed the derailment to shake me out of my stupor.  Whatever it was, it worked and as I watched the frozen landscape roll by, I realized that no amount of effort on my part or his would stop that vehicle from delivering us to our individual destinies.

It was my first conscious encounter with the randomness of fate and I mourned it a long time.  Karma felt like a prison and I hadn’t yet learned to pick the lock.

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