Merry Christmas Memories Monday: The One That Could Have Been a An ABC Family or Hallmark Movie
Monday, December 3, 2012
Back in December of 2004 when we thought we knew everything and really knew nothing (that's still the case), B and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by taking a load of boxes from our tiny apartment in Russellville to the townhouse we rented in Bryant. B was to start the new year working at the Little Rock firm where he still employed today. Being the small-town Oklahoma girl that I still very much was, I wasn't entirely keen on the idea of living in the Little Rock Metro. However, I've always been very adamant about the whole Ruth 1:16 way of looking at marriage, so I embraced it. We rented a U-haul truck the next day and prepared to load it with our remaining worldly goods on the 22nd with the help of Capt. B, who was a college freshman at the time, to embark on this next chapter of our lives, not paying much attention to weather reports of "a chance of snow."
The snow started falling as we loaded the U-haul. We loaded it quickly and hoped to get on our way before things could get very bad. Things got very bad, very quickly though.
We moved slowly, so very slowly on I-40, until traffic seemed to almost stop near Morrilton. I mean, we were moving so slow that the tortoise was able to stop and nap a couple of time. I was on the verge of tears because my windshield kept freezing over faster than my defrost could thaw it. At one point I was pretty much standing as I drove in order to see where I was going. We didn't have cell phones at the time, so I was very, very relieved when one of the boys got out of the U-haul to tell me that we were getting off the Interstate at the next exit.
There was a decent motel at that exit with a Waffle House and a convenient store near by. We slid (honestly) into two parking spots at the motel and took one of the last rooms for the night. We ate dinner at the Waffle House and watched car after car slide off the road and drive recklessly. We laughed, but we were worried that we wouldn't be able to start out again the next morning. We tried anyway, come morning light.
Just to get the U-haul to budge off the ice, the guys had to use several cans of deicer near the tires. Thankfully there was no more precipitation falling, and we trusted that road crews had cleared the Interstate. Of course they would, wouldn't they? It was just two days until Christmas after all.
Traffic was moving, albeit slowly once we got on the Interstate. It took what seemed like forever just to get from Morrilton to Conway. Once we got to Conway it slowed down even more. We were pretty much in Little Rock traffic by then, and semis were jackknifing all over the place. What is normally a four-lane interstate highway had become an eight, with cars lined up on both lanes and along the shoulders. Somehow emergency vehicles made their way through when needed. Then came the bean field and we.just.stopped.
I hate that bean field between Mayflower and Maumelle more than just about any other place on Earth. When we pass by it on the Interstate to this day, I stare at the water tower to the right of the east-bound lanes with disgust and a sick feeling in my gut. I watched the sun move from the center of the sky to beyond the horizon by that bean field. I learned how to sit in the cold dark, trying to save gasoline and only running the heater when I had to. I watched person after person try to find a bush on the side of the road where they could relieve themselves. I was afraid to do that there, so I had Capt. B take over my car, and I used a toilet wipe box in a way never intended in the U-haul.
Eventually, after I listened to Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas about 18 times to the point where all I wanted for Christmas was for her to choke, we slowly started moving again. Finally we made it to the 430 exit and headed south. I tried with all my might not to freak out as we drove across the icy Arkansas River Bridge on 430. I also tried not to think about the story I had been writing since college where two people died on a river bridge in winter weather. I just tried to block that from my mind.
I remember either my car or the U-haul sliding as we got off at the Stagecoach Road exit. I remember a huge chunk of ice and snow falling off of the U-haul and somehow missing my car. I remember being exhilarated once we arrived at our townhouse. Of course, our incredible journey wasn't over yet. We had promised to get Capt. B home to see his girlfriend by Christmas Eve, and I was determined to make it happen.
So, we unloaded the U-haul and my car that night. Then we got up in the morning, ate breakfast, and headed west toward "home." I think we took Hwy 64 home. Maybe we took several different roads, I don't really remember anything more than just wanting to not be in a vehicle for a very long time. What I do remember is getting to Fort Smith by sundown on Christmas Eve. Capt. B needed to stop by Walmart at THAT time in order to get a few gifts for his girlfriend's family.
Somehow, by the grace of God, we managed to have a good Christmas with our families. I grew used to living near Little Rock and navigating my way around there. Then in March, B told me that his firm was going to move us to Northwest Arkansas... in December. Oh no, not again!
Thank goodness 2005 was dry and warm like this year! I never want to experience anything like that again!