It’s surprisingly hard to pack when you don’t know where you are going. It’s also surprisingly hard to pack when you haven’t remembered to collect your suitcase from your little brother. Good thing I’m a resourceful bitch, eh?
While I rifled through our collection of duffel bags and Whole Food reusable shopping bags, Mom called. I enjoyed the distraction of her effusive joy at being back home in Virginia. Aunt Lynn had made it through the whole trip without the state having to issue a single Amber Alert, so Mom counted the visit as a success. When the momentum of the conversation started to fizzle out, Mom suddenly shouted, “Crap, I called for a REASON.” I paused, waiting for her to continue.
“Now what the hell was it…Oh! There were three actually. One, when are you leaving?”
“Tonight, when Rocco gets out of the show.”
“Ok. Two, when are you coming back?”
“Tuesday. We need to be back in time for Rocco to get to the show.”
“Now, what the hell was the third thing.”
“I don’t know where we’re going.”
“No, that wasn’t it.”
I heard the clicking of her mouse and the shuffling of the solitaire cards as she started a new game.
“The third thing?”
“Oh yeah! I don’t want to hear a word from you until you’re back, got it?”
Rocco made it home just as I was cramming the last of the dishes into the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen counter. My OCD ass likes to clean the house before we go away. I figure if you’re going to die in some horrible travel accident, it’s nice to leave your grieving loved ones a clean place to stay while they put your affairs in order. I’m southern. We’re thoughtful like that.
Rocco did one last sweep to make sure we’d remembered everything, and out the door we went. After dropping the trash in the bins around the corner, we both looked at each other blankly. “You have no idea, do you?” I asked with dread in my voice.
“Do you?” he responded hopefully.
“Nope. I was so out of it from the scan and Lorazepam I don’t even remember the drive home, least of all where we parked the car.”
“I seem to remember there being a corner involved. You offered to get out of the car and check to see if we were outside the yellow line.”
“Was that Tuesday?”
“I think so.”
“Well let’s start with that.”
After thirty minutes of systematically searching the grid of uptown Hoboken, Rocco propped the luggage against a planter and fished his phone from his pocket. Sadly, it was a scene we’ve played many times. His call would be to the Hoboken Police Department, for there were only three possible outcomes for the situation: 1 – the car had been towed, 2 – the car had been stolen, 3 – we were fucking idiots and our car was on the one block we hadn’t searched repeatedly. Yeah, you know the correct answer already, don’t you? We figured it out fifteen minutes later and finally were on our way.
(Suburbanites – treasure your parking space. Don’t take it for granted! Maybe take a little extra time today to let that parking space know just how much you love it. Hell, maybe you should whisk it away for a romantic trip to the Poconos!)
In the car, my curiosity got the best of me and I started with the questions. Sadly it was a pretty chemo-cloudy day, so the answers didn’t do me much good. “It’s two hours away, huh?” I asked.
“Thereabouts. The directions said two hours from the bridge.”
“But we’re not going to the bridge?”
“That would be out of the way.”
“Is it in Jersey or Pennsylvania?”
“Why do you need to know?”
“I don’t NEED to know. I’m just curious.”
After we merged onto 80 West and passed signs for the Delaware Water Gap, it still took me a solid ten minutes to figure out we were going to the Poconos. As the realization hit, I spun to look at Rocco. “If there’s a champagne glass hot tub in our room, you’re in huge trouble.” He responded with giggles. “HUGE TROUBLE!” I continued.
After a brief respite to pee and refuel (both the car and our bellies) we travelled west for another hour. Rocco only made one wrong turn (a record!) even when the directions led down some disturbingly uninhabited back roads. “Have you already decided where you’re going to hide my dead body?” I asked as we sat at an intersection only partially illuminated by the yellow blinking light waving in the wind. Rocco just rolled his eyes and turned the car in the opposite direction I planned to sprint when I escaped and sought help.
As the roads became smaller and the turns harder to find, Rocco began to call out the next turn so I could help find it in the vast darkness that enveloped the car. I officially gave up on finding a radio signal, loaded a CD, and put on my co-pilot glasses. After we made our turn onto Huckleberry Road, Rocco grinned and said, “Almost there – the drive is at the top of the hill.”
Ten minutes later, he pulled out the directions again. “Technically we’re still climbing up hill,” I pointed out.
“It is a mountain, I suppose.”
Suddenly, there it was. Illuminated only by our car lights was a tiny red wooden sign with the golden words “The French Manor” swaying lightly in the wind. Without thinking, the words “Oh thank God I have to pee!” fell out of my mouth and into the quiet car.
“Not quite the reaction I was looking for,” Rocco responded, shaking his head