Dearest Rachel –
I think it must’ve happened while we were still courting; probably after we were engaged, but definitely while you were still living with your parents. I had planned to drive down to see you, despite reports of severe weather between the Chicago area and Macomb. I don’t think it was serious where I was when I left, but somewhere along the way, it got… dangerous. The sky was somewhere between yellow and green, and the rain was pouring down in sheets. Frankly, there were more cars pulled off to the side of the road than there were on the road still driving. And it was with that observation that I continued pressing on my way, heedless of the driving rain. After all, I neither saw nor heard anything resembling a tornado (although I won’t deny that the sky seemed ripe for it).
Upon arriving at your home perfectly safe, I related what I had seen to you and your parents, and asserted that, were I eligible for my own name in the manner that certain native tribes gave out for various accomplishments, I would have just earned the name “Drives Through Storms.”
I’m sure at the time I played it up a little bit, along the lines of ‘see how much I think of you? I’m not gonna let a little thing like a torrential downpour keep me from you.’ And since you didn’t see what I had driven through, I’m not entirely certain whether you were impressed or not.
I will say in retrospect that it was probably more foolhardy than actually brave. Especially since I was driving little Aki-San, my little Toyota Starlet, which was flimsy enough to later get in suffer the worst of a conflict between it and a deer, as you’ll remember. On the other hand, what else was I going to do? It would’ve made no more sense for me to pull over like all the other people had done, and try and wait the storm out by just sitting there out in the open. There wasn’t particularly any ‘better part of valor’ to my bullheaded determination to get just get the trip over with, severe weather be hanged.
Indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever given that ethos up. Just yesterday, after having made plans for the better part of a week to meet up with the girls at a restaurant on New Year’s Day (under the assumption that it shouldn’t be that hard to get a table on the day after the holiday, as long as the place was open – and each of them had fairly free schedules, since the day was still, for all intents and purposes, a holiday in and of itself), there was talk of a blizzard beginning around noon, and going on until late in the evening (or early in the morning, depending on your perspective). In fact, the warnings got such that church actually canceled its earlier service for this morning, and scheduled only the 11 o’clock to go on. Theoretically, that allowed me to sleep in, not that I actually did (since I’m lying here writing to you like this). I actually got a few texts from my folks about whether we were still going to go through with it, even as the snow began to fall.
But I had already made plans, and I wasn’t going to let something like a little snowfall getting my way, even as Logan headed home due to the storm. I barely even bothered to scrape away at the driveway, figuring that that would be a whole lot more to deal with by the time I got home, and then again my morning. As long as I got the car back up the driveway, we could live with that until morning; I’d haul out the snowblower to do the real heavy lifting this morning (in an hour or two yet).
There is something of an advantage to this level of determination; at the risk of downplaying what the weatherman say, everybody else gets scared off the road, and while it is undeniably slippery to traverse, there’s almost no one to run into, even on streets that would ordinarily be quite crowded. I won’t say that it’s perfectly safe, but in some ways it’s not nearly as dangerous as you would think, if only because of the absolute emptiness of the roads.
The amazing thing is, all of the girls made it as well. Ellen was actually at the restaurant before me, and Kerstin was literally right behind me. Erin took a little while longer, but that’s typical of her even in good weather, and what with the effects of the snowfall factored in, she certainly couldn’t be faulted for any delay.
Just to fill you in; since I never got a chance while I was over in Switzerland to go to a restaurant specializing in fondue (despite it being a Swiss specialty, and at least one of the Rheingasse Advent Market kiosks featuring such a dish somehow – not sure how you would make street food out of fondue, to be honest), I suggested a place specializing in the cooking method for us to assemble at, which was surprisingly well received. I sort of expected that the meal would take a considerable length of time (which, admittedly, meant that our cars theoretically would get absolutely buried while we ate), allowing us to converse and catch up with each other, since we really haven’t seen much of each other for some time.
It turned out that I was half right; we were there between three and four hours, but much of that time was taken up with the actual preparation and eating of our morsels; it’s a process that is both time- and attention-consuming. And that being said, we were paying more attention to our food then to any conversation to speak of – although we did try to cooperate in making sure that nothing was either overcooked or lost. On that latter issue, Erin in particular was distraught by a piece of salmon that got stuck to the bottom of the pot. It was a challenge trying to retrieve the remains of that piece. You would’ve been proud of her over dessert, though: she did her level best to lick all the chocolate out of the bowl.
It wasn’t until we were basically finished with our meal that we actually started discussing things. The fact that we need to get together more – and how best to arrange that. Several of the girls spoke of volunteering at certain places; Feed My Hungry Children came to mind. It sounds like the title of an odd game, and apparently a visit there could be treated as such: it is a place for packing meals for those less fortunate, and the operation of doing so can be performed as competing teams. The whole idea sounded very much like white washing Tom Sawyer’s picket fence. Still, it’s not the most terrible idea I’ve ever heard. It’s possible I’ll hear more discussion about it this coming afternoon via Skype; if so, I may fill you in with more about it.
To the best of my knowledge, everybody got home safely (again, this afternoon I’ll probably have more confirmation about that) and we were all quite full. so, once again, there is an advantage to being willing to drive through storms. Whether for a decent meal with good friends, or just to see you, I’m not going to let the weather stand in my way.