Hilton Head – Departure — Neil Simon May As Well Have Written This

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We arrived after almost 11 hours in the car.

The event started out hilariously after my middle son and I had an epic battle, hopefully our final for the year, about the inexplicable disappearance and sudden miraculous reappearance of a $5 bill I’d left on a bookshelf.

It’s not so much the funds. It’s the entire thing. A pattern of behavior and performance we are working hard and with reasonable success, to remedy. But that was over and we’d resolved it, or I had and so after storming out to the car, I sat in my seat and waited to get going.

My youngest son decided he had to use the bathroom. We gave the grave reminder to “pee your last!” and he decided he’d best go.

As he walked back to the car, my husband said, “Close the door!” and with that, the keys. Not in the car. Not with my husband. Not where they needed to be.

A text came in from a cousin, wishing us a memorable trip and love. I started to laugh at it all, in some amazing way, as my mother would have at the sheer irony of all this “SHIT” we’d apparently done to make this event happen.

There were hems and haws and moans and groans and whatarewegonnado and thisisastupididea and goingtothebeachinthewintersucks and financial wrangling and then a sense of purpose, of repose and gifts from nowhere which aligned to create a sense of “hellyeahwearegoingtothebeachinthewinterandyouregoingtoloveit” that was grounded, rooted and firmly planted in our auric hearts.

We were locked out of the house and we had all this shit in the car ready to go. We had no keys. We were packed to the gills with nothing but venom and blame and hissing to spew but …

We didn’t.

We rallied. In some crazy almost “fuckyouuniversewehavehadahardweek!” conscious shift, we were resolved. We would forge ahead. My husband considered breaking in.

Middle son decided to help. God only knows what that meant, but he couldn’t bear to see his father suffer, like Randy’s Dad in “A Christmas Story” my husband was on the verge of an apoplectic yet feckless cursing spree. (The man is a saint and we are all crazy people; I am sure in some quiet moments in his ephemeral solitude, he looks up, with red-rimmed eyes, to the heavens beyond the ceiling in our bedroom and asks, “WHAT DO DID I DID DO HOW WHO WHY?”)

Middle son charged around back. Maybe Glinda the Good Witch of the North (East?) was there in her magic transport sphere with help.

Nothing.

Husband is at the window trying to break into our house.

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This is never good.

I start howling again. My mother, someone (egad could it just be me? it’s entirely possible), was helping me laugh my ass off at this entire experience. Like some crazy Neil Simon play, that has all the elements: strife, sarcasm, loathing, drama, wit, redemption and loss. I remember witnessing my mother at moments like these laughing at it all, and wondering, “what the hell is the matter with you?” during what to my father seemed like a death-crisis.

Men… marriage and family are not for the weak.

The middle son darts around again. Like a human squirrel in swishy pants. Youngest son is silently weeping yet marveling at my ability to laugh at this moment. Oldest son is churlish; headphones in and staring intently at his iDevice.

The next I know, the front door is open. No shattered glass. No torn out windows.

The keys were in the lock.

I scream with laughter. “THIS IS RICH! THIS IS SO RICH!” Giving my cousin, via text, a play-by-play of the entire thing. “THE KEYS WERE IN THE DOOR!” She’s probably horrified by my insouciance.

We motor on. It took a long time.

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I’d like to thank CitiBank rewards / thank you points for the Bose headphones I wore. They helped me not lose my mind during several of the moments we traveled at a neck-breaking 1.2 miles per hour on the flat, boring I-95 corridor. I’d like to thank Google Maps for really trying to keep us updated. Apple Maps is worthless. Google’s ETA times went from 85 minutes to fourteen days and then back to a horrific 146 minutes, which was what it ended up being in the thick of it. I’d like to thank Thom Yorke for his mesmerizing “Atoms for Peace — Four Tet Remix” (I’m very late to the party, it’s from 2008) and the sun for rising this morning.

My sons broke out into their own rendition of “No Sleep ‘Til [Brooklyn] Hilton” when the traffic got hairy. We saw a freshly dead coyote on the shoulder and miles of break lights.

When we finally made it to Coosawatchie the release was kind. I’d like to say it was as though a pin pierced a taut balloon, without explosion, but as I look back on it, it was more gentle than that. It was as if the knot had been untied and the air pfft’d out on its own. No massive boom or transformation into kindness for we were already kind people; we’d just been in the car for a long time.

It took another half hour, to make it to our parking space. The meantime was glorious though. I had left Neil Simon and arrived at Pat Conroy. I stuck my head out my window as we traversed a bridge in the dark. My stomach felt all roller coaster-y. Our Southern escort along the Spanish Moss-dangled willows flanking route 462 was a half moon. She was hanging amidst a sea of lacy clouds, eventually thickening to greet us this morning with 64 degrees and a demure sun.

We unpacked our gear and watched Harry Potter fight a dragon. My youngest clambered into our bedroom shortly after midnight to tell his his brother snored and he wanted to sleep on our floor. A crow greeted me (or more likely my huevos rancheros) this morning on our patio. The sea is 200 yards away. I can hear her and see her.

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If we don’t meet in the meantime, I hope you have a glorious final two days of 2014.

I’ll be back.

Thank you.

One response »

  1. When I have locked myself out of the house and broken back in I always feel elated and disappointed at the same time. I think if it was this easy for me to break in, well, that can’t be good! Glad your keys were in the door.

    What a start to your trip!

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