Hey, it does rain in Southern California! The day dawned wet and grey. On other LA mornings I had looked out the window and felt I had woken up in a Californian oranges advertising clip.
My neck ached as a result of all the wild rides at Disneyland. I was also pre-menstrual, which meant feeling bloated, headachy and slightly emotional. (All right, I admit PMT can sometimes make you feel like a chain saw murderer, rather than only slightly irrational). But, the others also seemed edgy, including the two men. So what was eating them? Probably some apprehension about starting off again. We all seemed a bit tired and no one really wanted to get going. We dawdled over breakfast.
I thought that once we started on the road, things would be better. They weren’t.
F1 and F2 suddenly decided that they had to find a camping store to replace the glass on their lantern lamp (the one that had broken that night just outside of Yosemite National Park). I couldn’t believe it. After just mucking about seeing the sights for the last three days, they left it until now to do this. We waited over an hour before they got back.
We had planned to start this leg of the trip where Route 66 almost splashes into the Pacific Ocean. But, F2 thought we had delayed enough and complained about time wasting. I gave her some straight answers about that, including that TH had spent hours planning the route in advance which included his dream of driving on Route 66. A path that she had agreed to, when we planned the expedition back home in New Zealand.
Steve and Nancy happily drove on ahead of us to show us the way. There was very little parking available when we arrived at Santa Monica Boulevard and TH could only shoot off some quick photos, almost grabbed out the window of the Land Rover. It wasn’t the highlight that we had hoped for.
We finally left LA at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. A crazy time to set off. Steve and Nancy suggested we should start afresh the next morning and invited us to stay another night. We probably should have. But, no, we stuck doggedly to our decision to leave that day.
We were caught up in a traffic jam on the Interstate freeway until 4 pm, due to a car accident. The drizzle continued to ooze down.
Finally, the last of the suburbs straggled past and we were out on the open road once more. Signs on the Interstate periodically showed the various exits to Route 66. At each one, F1 and F2, who were in front, just drove straight on. TH got angrier and angrier. He flashed his headlights, the agreed warning sign to stop, but this signal was either ignored or was not seen.
TH was really pissed off. This expedition had been years in the planning. He was our route master and he had spent days, weeks even, preparing for this moment. He shouted and ranted. I could understand his huge disappointment, but it was only the start of Route 66. It did stretch across at least eight states. We would be in the lead the next day, and we could then dive off as many times as we liked to explore the remaining bits of “the mother road”.
But, that wasn’t good enough. He railed and stormed, each time yet another exit was driven past.
Anyone who has suffered from PMT will know what was likely to happen next. It’s like some huge big pressure. It builds so your head feels like a pumpkin, your body a tight balloon. Everything is stretched to breaking, including emotions. It can be managed in calmer circumstances. But, not if stress levels are pushed to the max. I hadn’t felt this bad before - like dynamite under a laser beam.
The “pumpkin” burst and the seeds rocketed out in equal doses of rage and tears. This is the reaction men find so inexplicable. Screeching and crying all mixed up together. I ranted that he was over-reacting and behaving like a spoilt brat. I howled that he probably wanted us all dead, including me, so he could just do what he liked, when he liked. I could see him happily trotting along Route 66, contented and serene. All was right in his world and nary a thought for his dead wife, lying mouldering and unlamented in her cold grave. (Did I say earlier in this blog that I was just SLIGHTLY irrational?)
Rage only lasts so long. The adrenaline runs out, leaving exhaustion and a feeling of hopelessness behind. TH and I retreated into our own bubbles of misery. We weren’t speaking to each other and definitely not to F1 and F2 when we stopped at our motel for the night.
The ground slid sharply away from the car park next to our unit. While removing our bags from the Land Rover TH slipped on the greasy tarmac . His digital camera slid out of his grasp. Making a grab for the camera, both he and it skated over the car park edge and down the embankment. I rushed over, fearing the worst.
He was muddy and the camera was damaged. He blamed his shoes. He was wearing his dressy leather ones. But, their leather shoes weren’t good in wet weather.
I screamed, “why the hell aren’t you wearing your desert boots?”
“The have holes in the soles!”
“You were supposed to get new ones before we left home.”
“I ran out of time. I had all these things to do.”
Bloody TH. He always had an excuse. If only he said, even just once, that he had stuffed up. But, not this time. The excuse was that there were too many other things to do. As if I wasn’t busy at the same time? I was the only one who had to work at my job right up to the end before we left, just to make sure there was enough money.
And, that was another thing – money. Because of the colder than expected weather, we had needed to use more motels than campsites. Because of F2’s inability to share with us, the costs were starting to mount up. Things were very tight and here we were in another motel and we would also have the expense of buying new shoes as well.
It was the last straw of an extremely frustrating day. I hurled myself onto the bed in the motel and sobbed into my pillow. TH is more used to me being “Wonder Woman” and couldn’t understand why his action woman had stopped being wonderful. I didn’t know why, either. I burrowed under the duvet and just hoped the end of the world would come.
Once the sobs had settled to soft hiccuping snivels, TH was able to lure me out with some tasty food he had prepared. I was always very food motivated. The end of the world could wait until I had, at least, one last meal.
We said we were sorry for upsetting each other. I tried to explain how I felt. I wasn’t used to behaving like that. We had invested so much time into this big trip and the whole thing was getting spoiled.
And, I was really concerned at F2’s continuing tense behaviour and her complete unwillingness to be part of the team. She only seemed to co-operate if she was forced or bullied into it. It was easy to say, “if that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it.” But, I was very uncomfortable with that, and worried what the long-term effects would be – on her, as well as me.
I talked to TH about the day I’d had the huge shouting match with F2.
I described to him how disturbed I was that I got so much stimulation when I changed from “Jekyll” into “Ms Hyde”. I felt I could turn into someone I wasn’t. What if “this thing that I wasn’t”, was the only way to subdue F2’s tantrums and demands. Was there another way to continue on a team expedition, without that?
And, what about TH’s hopes and dreams for driving Route 66? Why should he have to give up on all that because F2 thought she could suddenly decide differently. There didn’t seem to be any easy answers. One thing was clear, neither TH nor I wanted to compromise our marriage.
We agreed we’d find a way forward and went to sleep in each others’ arms.
© Eventful Woman, 2006
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