"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his." - Oscar Wilde
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A Tight Curve and Wet Pavement
I meticulously checked the buckle of Henry’s giant car seat, gave him a peck on his little button nose and jumped into the front passenger seat. We were off on our first road trip since Henry’s birth! It would be a five hour drive to Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is a popular summer getaway for Wisconsinites and FIBs (a not-so-nice term that Wisconsinites use when referring to Illinoisans – Chris is a proud Wisconsinite, born and raised in Milwaukee). He and I have always enjoyed car rides together, chatting and listening to music or sports. On this stormy August afternoon we listened to the Brewers game and chatted about our plans for the weekend. Soon I nodded off, as I always do when listening to baseball in the car. Henry was sound asleep. At the moment we reached the south part of Milwaukee, and a very tight curve, I opened my eyes to an eerie screeching sound. We were hydroplaning. Our trusty Subaru Outback was floating from the middle lane of the highway towards the left lane and the median. Chris whispered, “I have no control over the car.” I braced myself for impact as we crashed against the median, spun and swiped the median again. The Subaru came to a screeching halt perpendicular to traffic. I frantically unbuckled my seatbelt and dove into the backseat. Henry looked at me with his signature smirk and cooed. Relief. He was unphased, and even better he was safe. Chris was shaking. It was a wonder that the cars in the two left lanes stopped behind us. Without blinking an eye, he restarted the engine and carefully pulled off the highway. We left the scene of the accident in silence. The cars that had stopped behind us were still frozen, the passengers’ jaws were still dropped. We parked outside a small town diner. Aside from the car damage, which took three weeks to fix, we were all safe. We sat on the sidewalk clutching our eight month old boy. An old man on his way into the diner saw our shaken crew, and started walking in our direction. He sidled up to us, handed Chris a gold $1 coin, and said “Put this in your baby’s bank.” We looked at each other in disbelief as he walked away. “Are we dead?” Chris asked. “Did that just happen?” We both held the coin and examined it. We felt so lucky – or should I say “fortunate” (per Stephanie’s preference). Our car could’ve flipped. The cars behind us could’ve smashed into us. We could’ve hit the median head on, or on Henry’s side. But none of these things happened. Once we regained our composure, we turned around and went home. This was enough excitement for one weekend. Door County would have to wait. Now each time we drive to Milwaukee, we look at the median where we hit, and count the scuff marks left by others who have faced the same fate. We remember Henry’s first car accident, and with sweaty palms Chris carefully guides the car around the bend. Phew.