They're paving our development in two phases, so we have to park in Phase 2 or else outside the gates if everything's full until Thursday, when they'll start paving over there and the whole damn community will be parked outside my front door over here in Phase 1. Amy's traveling this week, and got home late from work on Monday, so her car got left off the property.
So, after we got home yesterday and lucked out in finding one of the last open spots in Phase 2, I thought I'd go ahead and bring her car in, so we wouldn't have to worry about it out there on the street all week long.
Amy's car, by the way, is her 3rd child.
Or 2nd wife.
Either way, it means she WOULD NOT be spending another night outside the gates.
And the thing is that I'd thought about it all day long. Imagined every possible scenario. Tried to think of every angle. And basically, it comes down to this: There are no carseats in the Mustang. No way I could bring the kids with me. They would have to stay in the house alone while I walked down to the end of the block, got into the car, drove to the end of that block, made a left, drove to the end of that block, drove into the development and found a parking spot.
But how could I leave them alone? Even for a second? They trip over their own feet and get hurt or impale each other with random objects when I'm standing right in front of them, for crissakes.
And, at the most, it was only going to take me 3 minutes. (Yes, I really did time it.) But the utter damage they could do...to themselves, to each other, to my home in 180 seconds...the sheer thought is just horrifying.
And if the street the car was parked on wasn't so highly trafficked, or questionably populated, or her car wasn't so damn pretty, I probably would not have given it a second thought. So, as we get closer to the house, I'm prepping the kids for my next steps.
But how much do I tell them? What do they need to know? Because...(and here's where the paranoia part begins to rear its ugly head)...what if I don't come back?
What if, in the short stretch from the car to the gate, I have an accident? Because most accidents do happen within a mile of home, somebody important enough to quote has said repeatedly over the years.
And we don't have any family here. And the small circle of friends we do have don't live anywhere nearby. And we don't know a single -- not a single neighbor. Their dogs' incessant barks? Yes. But not their owners.
So...in the very highly unlikely event that some idiot driver's ed teeny bopper comes zipping around the corner and slams into me at the stop sign and I get carted away in an ambulance, (Yes, people, my mind does actually work this way. All the time. Yes. All the time.), do I write all the emergency numbers they would ever need on a note on the fridge? Do I need to go over telephone dialing protocol? CPR basics? Do I give them a certain amount of time before they panic -- like if I'm not back when the big hand is on the 2 and the little hand is on the 5, call 911? Do I have them stand out in the front yard so they can see me? Do I tell them they aren't allowed one foot out the door, unless said time is reached, in which case they can go out and walk down to the neighbors, but stay away from the sidewalk so you don't get abducted and raped and killed, and only go to the neighbors on the left because we've actually seen their heads over the fence, and maybe even stepped in their dog poo by the mailbox, and they would probably even recognize you, too, but only if you screamed really loudly, Santiago, stop hitting me with that pooper scooper!
And I can feel my heart beginning to race as we pull into the driveway. And outrageous thoughts about how this could be the very last time I see my children are spinning wildly in my head. And I try to get a grip, to stay calm, to not freak them out. And I curse Amy once or twice under my breath as I let the dogs out and get the kids in the house.
But having lucked out that the kids did not happen to have a stellar day at school, my instructions were as follows: "Take your homework out of your backpacks. Sit at the table. Complete and recheck it before I get back. I'm going down to move Mommy's car and will be back in less than 3 minutes. Less. Than. Three. Minutes. We'll talk about your day today once I get back. And trust me when I say you'll have a better case to argue if you stay in your seats the entire time and have all that homework done. Is that perfectly clear to everyone?"
"Yes, m'am," they duo'd.
And as I marched down the stairs and out the side door of the garage, locking all the doors behind me and cringing every time I heard that click, but trying to make my steps sound angry (enough to keep them in their seats), I swear I could feel my knees knocking and hear my heart crumbling at the thought that the very last words they heard from me were not "I love you."
And then I ran. High heels and all. Down the hill, out the pedestrian gate, across the busy street like a Frogger fashionista, nearly busting my ass -- twice. Then I jumped into the Mustang like Bo Duke and hauled ass down the block. Seven cars -- SEVEN -- were at the intersection. And all, apparently, Sunday drivers over 85 who just HAD to turn down my fucking block!
COME!!! ON!!! Move it, people, move it, forfuckssake!!! Don't you realize that my children have probably set the house ablaze, refrigerated the Chihuahua, and invented the cure for the common cold by now!?!?!
And then I zipped through the gates, spun into a parallel parking spot, turned my wheels into the curb, and ran, heels and all, back down the other hill towards the house imagining the whole way all sorts of hell that must have broken loose.
When I got to the front porch, doubled over with side pain and totally out of breath, I tried to listen for signs of dismemberment or bludgeoning, and when I didn't hear any shrieking I knew, just knew, they'd drowned in their own cups of apple juice or choked each other with their banana slices.
They were exactly where I left them. Just doing their homework. Not a hair out of place. Not a person, place, or thing destroyed.
It was like time just stood still. For three perfectly painful minutes.