The scene: Interior of Lola the Corolla, I-66 East.
The time: Sunday, May 11, 2008. 8:10-10:30p.m.
HA. And Mom thought I would hit storms in Roanoke. Shows how much she knows.
[Drizzle begins.] Guess I'll turn off the cruise control, don't want to hydroplane.
[Drizzle turns into steady shower.]
[Steady shower turns into downpour.]
[Downpour turns into monsoon.]
[Slows to 50mph, attempts to avoid using brakes.]
Okay, seriously, God. I get it. Don't doubt your mother on Mother's Day.... Well, this will let up soon.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER...
[Hunched over, gripping steering wheel at 9 and 3, and squinting out the window like Miss Hazel out for a Sunday drive. Truck passes, kicking up mist and obscuring view of the center line]
Oops. Didn't mean to say that...or, rather, think it.... Though Bispo and I were just talking about the therapeutic properties of a well-chosen curse word. But I should try to avoid that one.
TEN MINUTES LATER. DARKNESS HAS FALLEN...
[SUV passes, splashing water over the center line]
Oh, I give up.
[Keeps driving. Traffic has slowed to 45mph, though, luckily, isn't particularly heavy.]
What is that in the ro--DEER!
[Swerves, slowly, since I'm a good 200 yards away from the deer. Praises self for cat-like reflexes.]
Good recovery, good recovery.
[Anxiously focuses on staying in lane. Loudly curses anything or anyone that impedes ability to see the dotted center line, including but not limited to large trucks, SUVs (WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, GOING 75mph IN A RAINSTORM?!), the headlights of cars on the other side of the highway, portions of the highway without the reflector thingys ON the dotted line, etc.]
How far to Manassas? I need gas. And possibly a massage.
Eleven miles. Hallelujah. You can totally make it 11 more miles. ... Don't get cocky, Hannah. Eyes on the prize.
I'm really tired of this [some Elgar concerto is playing on my iPod] but I'm afraid to take my hand off the wheel to change it.
Dude, there is no WAY I'm going to make it in time for Brothers & Sisters.
[Keeps driving. Manassas exit approaches. Exits. Pulls into BP and parks. Reflects on how quiet car is without wipers on high.]
Time for rain boots!
[Puts on boots. Fills up with gas. Takes deep breath and creeps back onto interstate.]
Ah, feels better with the rain boots on. Better traction, less chance of hydroplaning. Actually, that makes no sense. The CAR isn't wearing boots. But I do feel more at ease now! ...Heh, imagine if Lola had rain boots. That would be funny...cars with rain boots.
...Wonder what color rainboots Lola would wear? Maybe red? Or a nice icy blue, to match her silver paint job.
...Wow, get a GRIP.
So now the question is, do I attempt the Beltway, or go in through town? 495 will probably be hell. But Rock Creek could be flooded, so going through town might be worse.
[Exit to 495 approaches.]
Eh, what the hell.
[Takes exit. Immediately regrets it because NONE of the dotted lines have reflectors. Forges onward anyway.]
Five miles to River Road.
Two and a half miles.
Two and a half miles.
YES! Totally made it.
[Exits and merges onto River Road. Approaches intersection and realizes that the only thing 66 had been missing to make the lanes harder to read was....traffic lights! Which reflect wildly on the wet pavement.]
Chill out, Hannah. Not home yet. Oh man, you are never going to find a parking space. Probably going to end up three blocks away on Porter.
Seriously, Hannah. First things first. You are not there yet. And they say 50% of all accidents happen within 5 miles of home. Is it 50%? Or is it 25 miles? Whatever. I should call BMac again, he always used to say that.
[Continues on River Road. Reaches old neighborhood.]
If I still lived at 4321, I'd be home by now. Heh. Remember in college, Dad would say that about every school we passed on the drive to DC? "If you went to Emory and Henry, you'd be there by now." "If you went to Virginia Tech, you'd be there by now." "If you went to Hollins, you'd be there by now."
[Gets to apartment. Braces self for a hour of circling the block for a parking spot. Discovers two spots (!!!) on the back street. ]
Okay, this is too good to be true. There's gotta be a catch. Why is nobody parking here? ...That is a pretty big tree. It would sure suck if it fell on the car. ...Okay, now you're being paranoid. Or maybe not. ... Is it dead?... Doesn't LOOK dead. Maybe everybody else knows something I don't.
[Split second decision.] I'm going to risk it.
So I did. And I hauled my luggage up the street and into my apartment, where I promptly dumped my soaking wet suitcase, duffel, and purse on the bathroom floor.