Also known as Dumb Mom’s Guide to Losing Your Vehicle on the Mean and/or Not-So-Mean Streets of DC.
I have completely lost my city savvy and become spoiled by things-are-pretty-much-always-where-you-expect-them-to-be life in the suburbs.
It’s a sad state of affairs. I’m from Los Angeles for crying out loud!
I mean, not the city proper, but there about (do people really live IN LA?!), in an urban like setting.
I’ve lived in and traveled through cities around the world.
I used to be good with public transit (I gag on the bus now, not that I know because I don’t even consider riding one, or know how). I used to not get stressed by traffic (I avoid rush hour like the plague because rush hour traffic makes me markedly stabby). I used to not mind crowded walkways, or long lines to get coffee, or people standing out front of bars trying to get me to come in (who am I kidding, no one asks me to come into bars anymore).
I recently performed in a live storytelling show…
and, in order to prepare for my on stage debut, I had to go to a number of rehearsals.
Like, the actual city of DC.
And, you know what? Me no likey.
I hated the traffic. I hated the city sounds. I hated the people on the walkways and in the lines and standing in front of bars ignoring me while breathing and stuff.
But, mostly, I hated the parking, or lack thereof.
Even more troubling? The fact that I have a knack for actually misplacing my vehicle once I finally find a parking space that allows me to use it for longer than 15 minutes for less than $28.
On our final rehearsal I parked my car on a street some blocks from the venue. I spent 15 minutes standing in the rain trying to decipher the signage to see if I was in danger of being towed or ticketed or turned into a headless horseman or something.
said eff it figured out that my car was likely to be safe in the spot and proceeded to the theater.
Only the cast was having dinner. So I turned and walked a few blocks, in the opposite direction, to the restaurant. I sat. We talked. It was fun. And, I liked it. Mostly.
When we finished, we walked back to the theater, and rehearsed for a couple of hours.
Having a hideously long drive back out to the
boondocks suburbs, I hustled out of there, back into the rainy night, the exact moment we finished.
I turned left at the corner, walked two blocks up the street, and then two more. And then two more, before I realized that my thighs were burning?
Why are my thighs burning?
They weren’t burning when I walked down the first time. Because the first time it wasn’t such a long walk. This I know thanks to my thighs and their proclivity to burn intensely the moment they are over exerted. Which is only a few short moments after I start using them.
So, then, where the heck is my car?
I see the blown out, graffiti crack house I saw on my way up. I see the variety of confusing parking signs like those I’d stood around and attempted to decipher when I left my car. And I see the, um, ummmmm, the trees.
Not much to go on there.
And, what I don’t see is the one thing I really, really just need to see: Dumb Car.
So, of course, I did what any self respecting, suburbanite mama in a hurry to get home at 11pm on a Wednesday would do: I freaked the freak clean out.
And began to run.
With hopes that if I hurried I would be able to end this lost car nightmare faster.
I blurred up one street (yes I most certainly was running fast enough to blur).
Then down another.
Then I bent over and clasped my knees with my hands and tried to stop myself from hurling up my sushi dinner.
The rain continued.
I dropped my umbrella (those are actually quite heavy when you’re trying to hold them while dead running, Parkour style through an inhabited urban area with a Mom purse strapped to your side) and took one arm outta my rain jacket (I was working up a mad sweat, but didn’t want having to carry it to slow me down too). Sure, this would make me wetter, but it would also make me faster which was my only goal in that moment.
I ran on, picking up speed when I passed the shady characters who I’d already passed a couple of times in hopes that my fast-blurriness would make me unrecognizable.
They asked me if I wanted to see a zombie show. I was pretty sure I was in one at this point.
I paused at the corner and contemplated my options. I could continue at this pace for maybe 30 more seconds before passing out. Or I could attempt to call for help.
Self preservation won out and I whipped out my cell phone to call one of my cast mates, hoping she’d not left the theater yet and could maybe drive me around to find my car, leaving me humiliated, but not dead.
I didn’t have breath to leave a sensible voice mail that wasn’t, “OHUMOH, I’M LOST. AND, UM, I’M SO LOST. HELP. I NEED MY MOM. PLEASE. HELP. WAHHHHH! THERE’S A ZOMMMMBIE!”
Instead of leaving this in my most hysterical-clearly-ugly-crying-on-a-street-corner voice intermingled with the random hiccup and snot sniff my 4 year old couldn’t outdo, I hung up.
I decided to retrace my steps.
Zombie show creepsters: check.
Graffitied out crack house: check.
Parking signs designed to shock and confuse: check.
Tree after tree after bloody freaking tree: check, check, check.
And then, sweetbabyJesus, the forked road I remembered driving down 18 times in search of a parking spot upon my arrival!
I began to run again, this time for joy instead of fear. I took out my trusty car key clicker beepy thingy and began wearing out that button, hoping my car would respond and make itself known.
I tripped over my open umbrella (not sure why I didn’t think to close that thing; running about with it wide open and catching air behind me was highly inefficient and likely quite entertaining to onlookers and zombie-show-boys) just as I heard the sound I’d long to hear for the past 15 minutes: beep beep!
I sped myself right up out of that God forsaken hood and didn’t stop until I pulled into my driveway and fell out of my car to discover my filthy, tattered jacket belt letting me know that, in my haste, I had made the entire trip with it dangling from my speeding car.
I couldn’t care.
The next morning I awoke to a text from the friend I’d attempted to call the previous night in my panic stricken state. It read: Just saw your missed call, hope everything is ok!
I responded: Sure, all is good. Just wanted to say thanks & I had a good time tonight.
No need to let that ugly little scaredy cat outta the bag.
Fingers crossed she doesn’t read this post and see what a car-losing-out-of-shape-easy-to-panic dork I am.