Total Loss Department

I called the insurance company about my car. They said, “Oh, that claim has been transferred to the Total Loss Department.”

That answers that, I thought.

The name ‘Total Loss Department’ hits me right in my sense for the ridiculous. I love it. I put a jokey status on facebook, something about the other things that might also reside in the Total Loss Department... certain ex-boyfriends... some college majors...

Lately this house has felt like it lives in the Total Loss Department too. It’s disheartening. We’ve put so much work into it, had such great plans-- and now we’re just selling it and walking away.

But being married to Dan keeps my pessimism in check. I started thinking, is anything ever really a total loss? I mean, the worst relationships at least taught me-- well, don’t do that again. The car’s demise gets me a check, after all. So, not total losses.

Leaving this house behind-- maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It has a lot of unhappy memories. It held all our awkward adjustments and growing pains. These walls are plastered with frustration; the yard is watered with tears.

Now I look at the new house with real relief. We're walking away from bad mojo and moving on to our unburdened, fresh start house. And better, we’re leaving as a family. We sure weren’t one of those when we moved in here three years ago. Clean slate. Blank check.


Reconnection Relativity

This past week brought two friend re-connections: Friend A and Friend B.

The last time I saw Friend A was a year ago or more. I ran into her at the grocery store last week and was happy to catch up for a bit. There’s no excuse for us falling out of touch; we just did. Still, it was nice to see her. She said she’d call me, but I don’t think she will. We don’t call each other. We don’t spend time together. Although we’re fond of each other, neither of us makes any effort to maintain the relationship. Nor does either of us seem to mind the other’s respective apathy about it.

Friend B is an old college friend I last saw about 12 years ago. The day she found me on facebook, I was too hopped up to sleep. (So, of course, Dan was not allowed to sleep either.) This is a girl I have googled countless times, tried to find any scrap of info that could lead me back to her. She now lives a mere two states away (conveniently en route to Minnesota!) and we’ve already made plans to get together this summer.

Friend B was part of my life for less than 2 years, and that was almost 20 years ago now. What on earth connected us so strongly in those few months that the 700 miles between us feels like next door?

And Friend A-- what is it that makes the 12 miles to her place feel like 700?

Connections are a funny thing, the people we choose to maintain relationships with versus the ones who drift away. Or the people you rediscover only to find that friendship was the product of a different time and place and has since dissolved into cobwebs.

Until this week, I didn’t realize that ‘relationship’ and ‘relativity’ share the same root, but I guess it makes sense. They’re both just a matter of perspective.


Gang aft agley

"Ooh, what doing now?" asks Peep from the back seat, the first positive chirp we've heard from her in about an hour. She does not like being contained in cars, has been very patient during our long drive.

"Now we're on the Milkshake road!" I say as we hit the exit ramp, because we're only a few minutes from her long-promised milkshake at Diablo Burger. And I'm stoked, cause after burgers we'll hit Sedona, meet up with Peep's dad and our parents and Dan and the girls and have a few fun family days hiking and climbing and eating really good food.

"Ooh, the Milkshake road!" my sister repeats from the passenger seat, as you do when there's a toddler in your midst.

And Peep answers something from the back as we enter the short underpass tunnel and I say something about the tunnel or maybe I only think about saying something but don't quite get it out because then I glimpse the sly sheen of ice in the dark just too late to avoid hitting it and the car loses all purchase and there is a solid thunk and maybe a second solid thunk and something wallops my face and there is full-tilt screaming from the carseat.

Then the car is suddenly, horribly still, headlights nestled slightly into a massive rock wall and I open my door cause I'm pretty sure there's going to be vomit and Peep is screaming and my sister is asking if I'm okay and blood is streaming down her face. Then she's handing me her phone, has already dialed 911, and I'm arguing with the operator who keeps asking me what road I'm on and I keep saying "Exit 195" and she keeps saying "But what road?" and I keep saying "We're not on a road we're on an exit ramp, we just exited I-40, Exit 195" and she tells me there's no mile marker 195 and I repeat that it's not a mile marker, it's an exit ramp and wondering what the hell is this lady's problem. Exasperated, she transfers me to highway patrol; they of course say "Sure, Exit 195, be there in a few minutes."

And then I remember to breathe. I thank God for airbags and carseats and for my blessedly calm and logical sister. Peep is okay, possibly bit her tongue (interviewing hysterical toddlers is an inexact science). My sister explains that she's not hurt; the lacerations on her face are chemical burns from the airbags. I've never heard of such a thing but she swears she's okay. My chin and jaw ache from their smash into the steering wheel, but no one is seriously injured (except my poor car) and there were no cars in front of us or behind us so we are, given the circumstances, blessed. The car is drivable enough, and the road empty enough, that I can move us safely onto the shoulder to wait for the kind, lovely policemen.

The hotel I booked (at the last minute because the weather turned too cold to camp) is literally less than a mile from the accident site; the tow truck dude puts us-- car and all-- up on his flatbed and drops us off. This is Peep's lowest point; she really wanted to ride in the tow truck and the disappointment combined with the car's incline while being hoisted onto the truck sends her over the edge. Once we were level again though, she sniffles and rallies, declaring "Dere's ghosts in dere" in an accusatory tone while glaring at the truck's cab.

We unload our things from the car and bid it farewell; Peep is extremely concerned that such a ghost-ridden and clearly untrustworthy vehicle is taking Mamie's car away. She has a real soft spot for my car. My sister reassures her that the car is going to the car hospital, but it's still very suspicious stuff.

My sister's husband (bless him) arrives at the hotel shortly thereafter and whisks his family off to procure protein for all of us & the milkshake for Peep. I have a much-needed good cry, and then call Dan. He's a couple hours behind us with the girls and the dogs. Driving separately was a last-minute change to save Sister & Peep flying back to Denver then turning around and flying out to Arizona two days later. I called him from the scene of course, in between police cars and tow trucks and things, but now I can tell him it's over, we're at the hotel and all is well. Considering.

"Honey, I know this isn't ideal, but at least you're all okay," he says. "And just think, if they declare the car totaled you'll can get a new one with a working radio!"

I do really miss my radio. "Well, there is that. Thanks, honey. I really love you lots."

"I love you too. Plus, I've been meaning to thank you for saving me hours and hours of work repairing your clutch."

Sister & family return, burgers & milkshakes are consumed, they depart for their Sedona lodgings and I call Dan again to tell him I'm exhausted and can't wait up. He says that's fine, he's only an hour away.

I wake up much later in the middle of the night and there's no Dan. No messages on my phone from him either. I call him, refusing to panic, reminding myself it's really stretching statistical probability that he, too, might have been in a car accident today. And I’m right; turns out he's a half-hour away, but the road's been shut down in both directions due to a car accident. He can’t get to Flagstaff or turn around and head back the other way to bypass the wreckage. They've been sitting there since right after we talked, about five hours. He and the girls are cuddled up in sleeping bags because it's winter here, and the dogs are tucked under blankets in the back. They have a well-stocked cooler and portable DVD player, so it could be worse, but it still feels like too much for one day.

Dan and the girls roll up in the wee hours. He carries them slung potato-sack-style over his shoulder, still wrapped up in their sleeping bags, tosses them on the bed giggles become delighted shrieks when he yells "STEAMROLLLLLL!" and proceeds to thoroughly roll them into the bed.

We look at photos of my poor demolished car and my sister’s poor demolished face. Our long day catches up with us. We settle dogs, turn lights off, exchange goodnights. We’re together and all is quiet. Then Dan says into the dark "Look at the stars, kids!" and we all crack up again. And then we sleep.

Thanks, God. All of that could have been so much worse.
Thanks, Miss G, for riding with Dan instead. I’d much rather have her stuck in the cold watching movies for 7 hours in the car than turned sideways talking to Peep at point of impact in mine.
Thanks, level-headed sister and resilient niece for their level-headedness and resilience.
Thanks, brother-in-law and his rescuing, protein-procuring ways.
Thanks, husband, for the perfect mix of support and humor at all the right times.

Okay. Back to our vacation.


Procrastination Queen

The closer I got to Sunday, the grouchier I felt about writing my blog.

Things are quiet, so I felt semi-justified in not writing. At least justified enough to let the week slide on by with nary a word. There's nothing to write about anyway. Nothing is happening. Peep's visit is a bright spot in a long landscape of humdrum. Everything else is just-- maintaining. I'm building a path through my dirt yard, but nothing worth waxing philosophic over. Plus, I ran out of rocks and feel sulky about collecting more. I think about my next painting a lot, but feel reluctant about actually painting. I think about doing lots of things but find reasons to avoid all of them.

God, we're great at lying to ourselves aren't we?

Because it's not at all true that nothing is going on. In my real life, the life I'm trying so hard to ignore, there is so much going on that I don't know where to start. Just like every week.

I have about 800 million have-to's fidgeting impatiently in the wings-- ripping out drywall, buying groceries, working on paintings, filling out paperwork to short sale our house, laundry, blog updates, maybe figure out one or two clear life goals. Oh-- and make dinner.

Beyond that I have to make sure Miss G is turning in homework and Dan is taking his meds and pay bills and keep us all clothed and fed. Most weeks, even within that murky jambalaya, one particular something will poke its head out from out of my crowded mind and evolve into a blog post.

But not this week.

This week, everything is jammed into a sardine can; every passing thought is hollering and cussing and wanting to be counted. There is such a press in my mind that I literally can not bring myself to do any of it. I play Tetris while my brain runs in a loop: I have so much to do. I have so much to do. I have so much to do. Yet I sit paralyzed.

Yesterday morning, the storm broke. Instead of turning my computer on, I dumped four (yes, four) full laundry baskets on my bed and started folding. I checked some books out of the library on starting non-profit organizations. I cut out stars for my painting and squeezed in quality time with Miss G.

I don't know what changed/shifted/switched on. I really wish I did, because whatever it is needs cranking up full volume. It's time to escape overwhelm and get to work. I'm too used to cocooning; it's really, really hard to disengage from that insulated cotton coziness.

It's Spring, after all. Life is exploding all around me.