What I Believe Was Our Last Commute

Delta Winds cover 2008Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


What I Believe Was Our Last Commute

Mary Guillory

Suddenly, I hated Texas. It was to no fault of the state that I felt this way, but there is something about being stranded that causes one to be sickened by the surroundings. Texas was ALL around me. Thanks to our broken-down vans, Easter was celebrated with one dollar each: Dad sent Jack and me to a nearby vending machine. With so little money, we were lucky to get a bag of potato chips at rest area prices.

Louisiana did not seem so wretched to me now. I wished that we had never decided to move, but at the same time, I prayed for my father's mechanical skills to prove useful just one last time so that we'd all be able to enjoy the California sunshine again. The rain cleared after two days-finally-and Dad was able to befriend Pete and Bill, both of whom had been thrown out by their wives. Like us, a vehicle equaled a home for them, except they extended their home to the rest area, and ours was extended to the highway. They gave my dad a ride into town to get food and a new part for our van-the one that was most likely to run.

The van repair began, but our dog was up to something else. After being mechanic's assistants all day, we discovered the surprise hidden inside the van. Jade had begun giving birth. At first, everyone except my dad was afraid to even get back inside the van. We all knew that animals could be very protective of their young and what the previous owners had told us about this Pit Bull was still on our minds. Even though we had grown close to her since the trip began, we thought that somehow Jade would transform into a vicious animal, but Sweet Jade did not transform and by morning, she had eight puppies. Jack and I laughed about how they had all come out smoking.

"Hot dogs-I mean puppies," I said, referring to the steam we had seen coming from their newborn bodies.

"Steaming cup of puppy," he countered; our jokes lasted long after we had left that rest area.

A day or two after the birth of the puppies, we were mobile again. In Dallas, though, another motorist made us aware of our tire status. The conversation between her and my dad went something like this:

"You know your tire is gone?"

Dad replied, "You mean I have a flat?"

With wide eyes the woman said, "No, it's GONE."

To his surprise, we had been riding on a rim. Jack and I were asleep, but Mom had no trouble waking us to share the humorous dialogue. Dad was amazed that no one had felt any difference in the ride, but I wasn't. We were all so relieved to be moving that as long as the van kept going, everything was fine.

Nature, however, was not about to let us ignore it as easily as the tire had. We dug out the spare tire and in no time were in windy Arizona. We could feel every swoosh that brushed the sides of our van. In fear of being blown from the road, we decided to wait the wind out at a rest area. Walking and breathing in the sandy wind was as difficult as driving in it.

I was afraid when we let Jade out to eat; flashbacks from a few years earlier haunted me: A hurricane's winds had sent our Pomeranian's house, which she was attached to, flying and tumbling across our three acres of land. She ran and, when she caught wind, flew through the grass with the house hot on her trail. We did rescue her, but the image, though humorous, was discomforting.

Luckily, the only thing we lost in the Arizona winds was a water jug. It slipped from my brother's grasp and was swept away. A little boy chased it on his bicycle, but the wind blew far faster than he could ever pedal (I say it was doing at least 100mph). The next morning we were well on our way to California. Upon crossing the borderline, we saw a jug near the road. We would like to believe it was ours, but that would be absurd right? Whether it beat us there or not, we were just happy to finish the race.

It has been a long time since that trip, but my family still finds humor in its events. Out of our many trips to California from Louisiana and vice versa, this was, by far, the worst, but also the most memorable. Either my parents made up their minds about which state to live in or they did not wish to endure such a move again. All I know is that we have lived here in Stockton for three years and already that is a lot longer than we ever lived in either state since we started moving back and forth. During the trip, Jade became a trusted member of our family. She has since passed away, but we still laugh about the times we awoke to find her sleeping on top of us-not to mention her smoking puppies.