Whenever you are traveling and have the good fortune to arrive at your destination in one piece, I think you are obligated to tell people your trip was fine.
I had a fine trip last week.
I headed an hour north to a speaking engagement. Fifteen minutes out of town my vehicle began to shake. To see if the shake was significant or just my imagination, I belted out a note and held it. For the first time in my life, my voice had vibrato.
The vibrato was so full and rich I wondered if I had missed my calling for opera. The engine light began flashing wildly. Fortunately, I had several friends who lived not far from the next exit. I called one and asked if I could borrow her vehicle for the afternoon.
I bee-lined to my friend’s place and ditched my vehicle, now shaking like a mechanical bull, then headed back to the interstate. I was behind schedule, which was why I may have broken the speed limit passing a motorcycle.
For an instant I thought I had passed an unmarked police officer on an unmarked motorcycle. Paranoia runs in the family. It was all good, the bike just had shaky lights flickering in my rear view mirror. I pulled my heart out of my gut in time to see the sign that said “Slow and stopped traffic ahead.”
Once I slowly wound through several miles of construction, traffic began to sail. Until we came to the trucks with flashing lights blocking traffic. Workers were removing a deer that was no longer with us. And a second. And a third.
After another delay, and a brief moment of silence for the deer, traffic resumed speed. Right into towering, dark, ominous clouds.
They were the kind of clouds that spawn tornadoes. I know my clouds. I grew up in Missouri, right across the state line from Dorothy and Toto.
Maybe I’d get there in time for my introduction.
Rain fell in torrents. Traffic slowed to a crawl and then came to a halt.
I was thinking how to word my apology for being late when the hail began. It was so dark I could barely see. Thank goodness for the lightning. It was killer hail, the kind that blows out windshields. I was torn between shielding my eyes and looking to see what was happening around me.
Open, eyes! No, close! Open! Close! Open! Close!
The hail ended, the windshield remained and the traffic resumed. The cloud doubled back and dumped all five Great Lakes on us. Stopped again.
Maybe they’d have refreshments beforehand. Maybe whoever was introducing me could do a song and dance.
Waiting for the second torrential rain to pass, I programmed my destination into Google maps. As they closed the flooded highway behind us, I took my exit and headed to my destination, which I had inadvertently entered as S. Salisbury instead of N. Salisbury.
I arrived at my destination late, harried, wide-eyed and disheveled, but in one piece.
“How was your trip?”
“Fine, thank you. Just fine.”