Jun 11, 2011

i'm in the wrong house, aren't i?

i recently got my husband a gps for his birthday. he had been casually suggesting one for years. he'd drop hints like: we need a gps. and i'm getting a gps.

but i'd always be all no way. i have an excellent sense of direction.

but he'd say he wanted something that didn't fall asleep two hours into a trip somewhere and i would say i can't help it, sometimes being on a long drive is like a tranquilizer. he would bring up all the times we got lost and i would bring up all the times that if he had just listened to me, we wouldn't get lost, or be needing to make a twenty-six point turn in a thirty-four foot rv.

i prided myself on my sense of direction. heck, i could fly a small plane and vector a course between three points. but that was a long time ago. never mind about that time i followed the wrong river and was looking straight at some mountain ranges which was what prompted the need to vector a course in the first place. i found an airport. i landed. it was all good.

truth be told - lately, my sense of direction isn't as sharp as it once was. i don't know if it's being on the other side of forty or if i need new glasses. but i've been to the eye doctor and he said i don't need new glasses. so there it is.

i really think there's a bunch of stuff that isn't as sharp as it once was but i still maintain it's the glasses.

recently, we lifted our unintentional self imposed ban on going out and having an actual social life, and we went out. the bourbon slushies were all packed up, and i looked pretty good for the other side of forty.

i said i knew how to get there, and what with that new exit on the highway, we could even take the back way. after i totally pretended to know exactly where we were and we unknowingly passed the street three times and then backtracked to just take the long way and then made a phone call to a friend at the party, and circled back around again; an hour later we pulled into the tasty meadows neighborhood and parked right smack in front of the house.

we had argued the entire time and he said we are getting a gps.

and i said, no. look. we're here and can you believe we got a spot right in front of the house? look at all these cars!

we got out of the car, i slung the big bag of double batch bourbon slushies over my shoulder and walked up the sidewalk and into the house. i figured they all must be out back, on the count of it being so weirdly quiet for a fiftieth birthday party. i was also thinking we gotta get out more often and work harder at maintaining friendships, cause it had been a really long time since we had been to this friends house and i just don't remember it looking quite like this. and when i got to the kitchen and saw the kid in his boxers doing dishes, and his mom get up out of her lazy boy to see who was standing in her kitchen, it all became very clear and i just said, hi. i'm in the wrong house, aren't i?

she pointed to the house across the street and said that's where you wanna be. i promised i'd come back with a bourbon slushy and once we were out on the sidewalk steven said we are getting a gps. i secretly agreed, but wondered if a gps could tell the houses apart in tasty meadows any better than i could.

so i got him a gps and he named it suzanne. she's british. i said i wouldn't use it - i didn't need it cause of my excellent sense of direction. but i've totally used it. i had to get from downtown all the way out to east jesus one day and it required getting on a particular highway here that gets me all discombobulated. so i plugged the address into suzanne and off we went. i spent a good chunk of time yelling at suzanne, convinced she didn't know what the hell she was talking about in that insipid accent of hers. i questioned every turn she told me to take thinking surely, there was a better, faster way. i was pretty sure she thought we wanted to go to canada and that she had us on a direct route there via cincinnati.

my son was with me and in a real hurry to get to east jesus and all of my yelling at suzanne was making him worried we'd never get there and so he just begged me to please trust suzanne and do what she says.

so i did.

and we actually got to the right house in record time and i reluctantly had to admit, suzanne is a genius.

Jan 28, 2011

the winnebago, the butter dish and the george washington bridge

once upon a time, in a quest to prove that purchasing an rv was just the thing our family of five needed - embrace the open road! travel more easily from kentucky back to the mother land of new england! no stopping for the bathroom or gas station food! save money on hotels! room to stretch out and sleep all while still rolling in the snazzy comfort of a recreational vehicle! - my husband suggested renting an rv.

you know - no commitments. let's just rent one and see how it goes.

i had already worked through the whole if-my-husband-thinks-i-am-going-to-consent-to-buying-an-rv-he-married-the-wrong-woman thing and finally just said


so. we rent one and pack it up with everything but the kitchen sink cause we didn't even need to bring the kitchen sink seeing as there already was a sink. in the kitchen, on the rv that just so happened to be, i swear to god nicer and better appointed than my own home if you could overlook the excessive use of velour for decor.

as i walked out to the rv with armload after armload of clothes and other household paraphernalia, i sensed a slight vibe of doireallyneedtobringallthatshit annoyance coming from my husband.

but it was a trade-off sort of thing. if we are renting this thing, and it has closets and a kitchen and drawers and shit; then hell yes i am bringing everything i think i might possibly need or want, and even if i don’t need or want it, i wanted the option to need or want it.

and yes honey, that actually includes this very cool antique butter dish from england that was a gift to us. cause look - there’s a spot for it right here, in this roll up alcovy sort of thing in this snazzy kitchen that’s nicer than ours. you know how i like soft butter.

and so, we’re off.

our little family of five. i think our oldest (now almost 15), henry, was probably 7, our middle child annabel around 3, and lulu was 2.

driving halfway across the country in an rv with three small children was surprisingly dreamy. i daresay my husband was onto something. it was fantastic. when the kids were hungry, i got up from my seat and went back to the kitchen to get them some snacks. when they had to go to the bathroom, or i had to change a diaper, it was done. all while rolling down the highway.

what’s that honey? you’re hungry? hang on while i make you a tuna fish sandwich. wanna watch a movie, kids? lie down on the couch? ok. go ahead.

it was truly dreamy.

we were rolling down the highway with all the comforts of home.

and the butter too.

one of the most exciting things on any of our road trips back east was crossing the george washington bridge and looking across to the city - we always hoped it was clear enough to see "papa’s building”.

because once upon a time, my father ran the empire state building. the kids always called it (and still do) “papa’s building”. so, we’d cross the bridge and look across the hudson to see if you could see the building.

and on this particular trip, the kids were doing just that.

so, we’re crossing the gw and i announce, ok kids! come on over here & let’s all look for the building! and they all clamor off the couch and sit in the little kitchenette. cause we’re a rolling house and there’s a kitchenette to sit in.

and we’re all so happy.

i briefly remember glancing at the toll charges and wondering how the hell many axles we had on our rolling house and trying to recall how much cash i had in my wallet.

but mostly. we were happy.

and as my husband recalls this very story, he tells about his concern over the very, very large sideview mirrors on our very wide rented recreational vehicle -- but mostly, he was weirdly focused on only the driver’s side mirror as we passed through the narrow toll. and so, after he pays the toll, and at the very nano-second that he gives a sigh of relief upon clearing it, a huge crack reverberates through our snazzy rented, not so mini winnie.

and this huge cracking, breaking, expensive sound is due to the fact that the passenger-side ginormous mirror has now been sheared off the vehicle and is literally hanging on by a thread. or, electrical cords if you feel like getting real technical.

and so it begins.

and i heard a lot of yelling, but i'm sure what he meant to say was hey honey - i think i sheared off a portion of this vehicle that does not belong to us, how 'bout you come on up here & open the window and get that sideview mirror, will ya?

only the cords aren’t long enough to bring it inside. so i have to hang out the window and hold the mirror just so. and while i'm hanging out the window, i have time to wonder how much this is gonna cost us. and i wonder this out loud in a yelling sort of voice.

now. we’re on i 95 in westchester county and this particular corridor of 95 will make you wonder what the hell your toll money just paid for, cause it sure as shit isn’t the roadway. it’s pothole after pothole. and our rolling house isn’t rolling with the punches as much as i’d like.

stuff is starting to fall out of its fancy constraints.

the kids are crying that they didn’t really get to see papa’s building. i am hanging out the window hanging onto the mirror that i am convinced must cost a first year of college. i mean, my god, this rolling house is pretty sweet as far as rv's and velour decor are concerned. surely this mirror hanging from the cords costs a mint.

with. each. hole. we. hit. more. shit. is. falling.

my husband is trying to figure out the next plan of action and is likely running through the list of napa auto parts locations that i will bet anything he's got committed to memory.

and with each pothole, i look back to check on my unbuckled tiny kids that i cannot help cause we could lose the mirror if i get out of my seat and god only knows what that would cost and i also happen to notice that the rolly door of the fancy little alcovy thing in the kitchen is slowly sliding up.

my husband wants to get off the highway so he can asses the situation. i tell him that if he were to get off any of the nearest exits the only assessing that is going to be done on the situation is how to rip us off - cause i am from here. we've returned to the mother land and i know what i am talking about.

he must not have heard me when i yelled at him something along the lines of: under no circumstances should you get off that next exit in larchmont, cause it's one of those exits that has no re-entry. i promise you. if you get off this exit, we will not get back on the highway.

either he was smoking crack, or he thought i was - cause he got off the exit. and a mere nano-second before he makes this fateful choice, we hit that one last pothole in which the butter dish fell out of the fancyass alcove.

and then, like ralphie's father - for whom i have a special affinity cause of how he worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oil or clay; i wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as i know is still hanging in space over westchester county.

and my three small children are barefoot, just sitting on the couch - gobsmacked at all that has occurred since we were all so happy and looking for papa's building.

there is butter and broken glass all over the floor, i have been hanging out the front window holding onto the mirror for about an hour, and i'm wondering how i could marry a man who took the very exit i told him not to take. and have i mentioned there is butter and ceramic shards all over the floor.

but. here we are. driving down main street, larchmont. with no way to get back on 95 and i'm willing to bet a college education he's not gonna find a napa auto parts anywhere near this little slice of camelot.

the fiasco is really nowhere near over - there's still the bit about the low railroad bridge and the "no vehicles over eight feet" signs and the low hanging wires in the really chic residential real housewives of larchmont sort of neighborhoods. and then of course, there was the litany of "i told you so's" while we tried to maneuver our way through the backroads of westchester county via phone calls (this was in the olden days, before gps) to finally make it back onto i-95; all the while, i was hanging out the window, hanging onto the mirror.

there's no tidy way to wrap up this story, other than to say we made it to our destination. the mirror was finally fixed with a tube of $2.65 jb weld. we're still married. we actually bought an rv. sometimes we think of selling it to pay for college. or therapy for our kids.

in other rv adventures of the websters, there was also - the time we were hoboes.