it was 1998 when i last went anywhere just as me, myself, and i, rather than as somebody’s wife or mother. this idea gnawed at my soul for a long, long time, until finally, my best bud murph and i figured out that this would be the year we would go away somewhere. since she had moved away, we never got to spend much time together anyway, so why not? besides, murph had some frequent flyer credits to kill, so as long as we selected a place where her plane would take her, we were golden.
we settled on san francisco. san francisco is home to many, many things, some less printable than others. for our purposes, it would be home to the free hardly strictly bluegrass festival in golden gate park. now many of you faithful readers (and i know you are out there, you people besides my dad) are familiar with the fact that i am not exactly the biggest country fan on the face of the earth. this, as we all know, is true. however, i have an appreciation for classics, like emmylou harris, who, i think displays a startling beauty in her work. i also took note of the hardly strictly part of the title. i saw names i adored on the list of performers, like aimee mann and nick lowe. and, in short, i was sold. besides, one of my other dearest friends, m2k, lives there, a lucky strike extra indeed.
now, you might think that that would be that, and i could simply say i got on a plane and off i’d go. but nothing in my life ever goes quite like that. for starters, i am a bit frightened of flying, a la isadora wing. sure, i have flown plenty in my life; i’ve been overseas and i was a regular in the 80s on people express to florida. but somehow, since i’ve become a parent, flying freaks me out. i guess the thought of potentially not being there to see my kids grow up makes me freeze. but i have also learned in life that i have to step up to the plate and just face the things or people i fear and get past them.
so i do.
i was slated to leave on friday, october 2 at 5:15 in order to catch a plane at 6:40 a.m. i packed during the week during fleeting free minutes. by wednesday, i was nearly ready, putting final touches together while BS and jools were out at a cub scout meeting in the evening. they returned home late, 9ish, so i stopped my packing and put jools to bed. then, as he was standing by the sink, rehashing the evening’s events to me while drinking a glass of water, BS suddenly grabbed his throat, then his side, then toppled to the ground, hitting his head on the hard kitchen tile floor. i ran over to him immediately, patting his cheeks and calling his name. no one was home. then, his eyes opened and went back into his head. this is not really happening, i thought. (you bet your life it is, a little voice sang.)
i wedged BS on his side against the dishwasher, jumped up and ran to the phone. only too bad for me (as my heroine junie b would say), that glass of water BS had been holding had spilled all over the floor. i slid and fell on my ass. that hard tile floor contact seared along my legs and backside, but as my ass has plenty of cushion on it, i knew the floor had probably hurt BS’s head a lot more, so i struggled up and grabbed the phone, dialed 911, and slid back to BS, cradling his head in my arm while keeping him on his side.
911 operators, for those of you who have never spoken with them, are rather tough cookies. calm down now, ma’am the lady kept saying to me. i am not one of those people who likes to be told to calm down; it makes me more frantic. but i looked at my husband’s face and knew i had to keep myself together. so i described what had happened, where we were, that sort of thing. as i looked at him, my husband’s eyes opened again, and this time, i saw a glimmer of recognition. i’m fine, he said to me, over and over. i’m fine. i had the feeling that he did not want to trouble the EMTs; that’s the sort of guy he is.
too bad, i thought. i don’t take direction from people who have been unconscious in the past five minutes. the EMTs are coming.
he looked like he was coming to for good; and when i heard the firetruck, i ran to the door to open it, then ran back to my husband. EMTs and firefighters filed in. one took me aside while several hung with BS, asking him all the usual questions to ensure his noggin was still in working order. after lots of questions, the EMTs decided that he probably somehow messed with his vagus nerve and gave himself a brain freeze to remember (or not). he was probably ok for now. fabulous.
i spent the night watching him sleep, as i was afraid whether he’d have a problem again due to whatever happened or perhaps even a concussion from whacking his head on the floor.
the next day, i tried to calm down and finish packing. by the evening, though, i was terrified of the impending flight. i was upset by the idea of leaving my formerly unconscious spouse alone, especially with two kids to look after. in short, i was afraid. i went to bed that night, unable to sleep.
now everyone occasionally hears things that go bump in the night. and, as little miss non-sleeper 2009, i heard two knocks in the night, pounding sounds like when water goes through the upstairs pipes. curious, i thought to myself: no one is running the tub. but i sat there, and i pondered. that is, until i heard the sound to end all sounds.
at around 3 am, a thunderous noise literally pushed my husband and i up into the air (it seemed.) ohmyG-d, ohmyG-d, ohmyG-D! was all i could mutter as i ran down the stairs to find out what the hell had happened. i didn’t have to run far. the ceiling of the living room, AKA the room beneath my bedroom, had fallen. the 60 year old plaster and drywall concoction had finally breathed its last and decided to fall atop a table the kids use to do crafts and play games on. amazingly, all of the toys that were underneath the heavy ceiling were relatively undamaged, though the ceiling did rip a hole in my pullout couch. but no one was injured. (after all, no one else was awake save for insane jane moi.) i checked on the kids, who had no idea what the hell had happened.
and then, i proceeded to stay awake and fret. after all, i had to wake up at 4:15 in order to get myself together for my 5:15 cab. how the hell can i leave you? i shrieked at BS. this is like a sign from G-d — i should not be going anywhere!!! BS told me i should get on that plane and not worry about signs — i needed to go and besides, murph would be very upset with me if i blew her off.
by this point, BC was up for the duration. in between telling me what i needed to wear (you’ll be cold if you don’t wear this jacket, she told me, handing me a windbreaker. she was right, incidentally. glad i listened to the 60 year old in the 10 year old suit.), girlfriend was crying her eyes out. don’t gooooooooooooooo, mommy!!!! oh, i didn’t want to. i really didn’t want to.
but i got in that cab, blew a kiss to the little girl who was sobbing at the window, and was off to the airport.
once there, i stood outside northwest airlines’ entrance. and i sobbed. i called BS. i don’t want to go, i cried. what kind of wife and mother leaves her family after these things have happened?
BS, who by this time was probably one step away from a one-way trip to whothehellami land, very calmly uttered: just GO!
so i did.