24 June 2007

Evidence that makes it hard to deny my official status as a Control Freak.

Friday morning we packed up the cooler with sandwiches and watermelon and carrot sticks and hit the road. Atlantic ocean, here we come. I drove, because I always drive, and it wasn't until half an hour in that it occurred to me to mention the expected thunderstorms and 60+ degree weather to Steve. After another half hour of indecision, we changed our plans and stayed on the Pike.

We drove to Boston and took the girls first to the Aquarium where I thought maybe we should just look at the nice harbor seals and avoid paying to see fish, but no luck. $45.00 later we were ogling sharks and giant sea turtles.

It rained on us - hard - as we walked the three blocks to the Children's Museum. But we made it (and saw jelly fish in the bay) and the girls had a blast climbing on things and touching everything, because taking them there was kind of like releasing tame animals back into the wild.

At 5 we walked back (and yes, it rained again) and piled the children back in the car, headed home through rush hour traffic. I drove again, because I always drive and even though I asked Steve to drive home, I knew that Steve Driving Home did not include getting us out of the city, which is fine, it's my job. We told the girls we were going to eat Road Food on the way home and spent the next hour in traffic convincing them that we were going to eat food scraped off the street. It was a tough sell.

After we stopped and ate, Steve took over the driving, and with nothing to keep it busy, my brain began to atrophy. First I played with Freya's feet for a while, then the iPod. I talked to Matilda until she passed out and craned my neck to see the rainbow behind the car. Eventually, I ran out of things to do, and that's when it happened.

Steve is a better driver than me. Hands down, ask anyone, he's better. I have a terrible driving record that you really just don't need to hear about, it's been better since I had the girls, but still. So know that what happened next was completely irrational and uncalled for.

We were boxed in by eighteen wheelers and fast idiotic little drivers who thought that three feet was about the right distance to leave between their cars and ours. Steve was annoyed and tense, sitting forward in the seat and focused on the road. But I was in the passenger seat, helpless, there was nothing I could do, NOTHING.

So I used my imagination.

I started picturing car wrecks, I pictured myself flying head first through the windshield and landing somewhere in the meridian, blood everywhere. It would probably start with someone sliding into the guard rail and flipping over. No one would be able to stop.

At least twelve or eighteen cars would be involved and it would take until four o-clock in the morning to sort out who belonged to who and what car had hit what. The lights would flash red and blue as I lay on my back trying to see the sky.

I turned to Steve and asked, "If we're the sixth car in a massive pile-up, who's responsible? Do you think our insurance would go up?"

It was only after this pressing question that I wondered if, after the crash, I would be cognizant enough to ask for my children first. I even imagined how sad I would be if they both died. Tragic, I pictured myself in black, Steve would be there of course, but our lives together would be irreparably damaged, we would be irreparably damaged. Our friends would tiptoe around us, avoid mentioning the children by name and shake their heads and whisper to each other about how sad our lives has become when they thought we weren't looking.

I turned to the back of the car to make sure that Matilda, sleeping, still had her seatbelt buckled and wasn't slumped over in a terribly dangerous sort of way. She was fine. Freya was also strapped in tight and trying to eat her own feet.

We pulled out of the tangled traffic and onto the clear road again.

"I love you," I said to Steve, and made myself relax and sit back in my seat. I can do this, I can not-drive, I thought. "Do you want me to drive?" I asked.


Jenn said...

Hey Nell,

It was so great to meet you last night. I love this post, because I am always thinking about death death and more death with death on the side, please. And a twist of death. You make me feel quite normal and that don't happen every day. Bless you.

Absolutely Bananas said...

we moms are sick, i think. Always imaginging the catastrophe that MIGHT happen. inside our heads is a scary, scary place!

Queen Heather said...

Don't you just hate that kind of imagination?

Annika said...

Hmm. I remember you being a good driver. And not much of a control freak at all! I mean, really. You used to lay back while I steered... hmm, maybe not so safe now that I think about it. Though possibly better than the time we played board games.

Brillig said...

I do this too--I think Absolutely Bananas is right. We just have to overthink it and conjure up catastophes in our brains. It's just what moms do! hahaha. Yikes...

Jennifer Playgroupie said...

I am glad to know that I'm not the only comtrol freak out there!

palindrome said...

ok... i'm just gonna put this out there. why didn't you call me?! a rest stop at my place would've been far less stressful than all that.