I guess it would have to be the ice box. That’s what I keep coming back to, anyway. I was eleven years old, and I was sitting in the back of my dad’s van on the shag carpet floor. All around me were boxes filled with various books, antiques and collectibles. He called it “inventory.” My mom called it “stuff.” The rest of us called it “crap” (the older kids said worse). Dad had carved out a space just big enough for me to sit in relative comfort for the next two hours on our trip to see family in Pennsylvania.
“You okay, Marianne?” he said, glancing slightly back at me.
“I’m fine,” I said. And I was. I am the youngest of six children, so I had learned at a very early age not to take up much space. I sat there listening to my walkman and settled in for the trip.
We were driving down the Arterial highway in Poughkeepsie and were nearing the Civic Center.
“Okay, good,” he said as he turned his attention back to the road. Just as he did, a car swerved in front of him, apparently no longer able to stand Dad’s 25-in-a-30-mph driving style and hell bent on making the light before it turned red.
You wouldn’t think that you’d have to slam on the brakes if you were only driving 25 miles and hour, but you’d be surprised.
Three things happened. The guy in front of us made the yellow light, a two hundred pound antique wooden ice box lumbered forward and fell toward me, and my dad swore.
“Shit!” he said. Now Dad was distraught. Trying to keep one eye on the red light while attempting to pull the ice chest upright, I pushed back from my direction, and my mom awkwardly joined in from the passenger seat. The three of us managed to stabilize the ice box before the light turned green again.
“Are you okay?” Dad asked.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I just have a cut on my knee.” Mom looked back.
“Is it bad?” he said. I could hear the fear in his voice.
“Nah,” I said. “It’s okay.” Mom dug around in her purse and produced a band-aid.
“Thanks,” I said. Dad looked back sheepishly as we got onto the bridge.
“Sorry about that,” he said.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Too bad there’s no ice in there.”
Dad grinned. If I was being sarcastic, that must have meant that I was okay.
But I think that was the event. The one that made me think, “No way in hell I will ever be hauling around shit in a van that might fall on my kids.”
Welcome to my world. Welcome to my life. Welcome to my blog.