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The Trip Home From Baltimore

I made very few trips home from art school in the 80's, partly because I really didn't want to go home and partly because my pinto hatchback could hardly make it home each time I took the 4-1/2 hour drive.

I am recollecting one particular trip home from The Maryland Institute, College of Art, driving home in the ice and snow through the Appalachian Mountains. The roads were cut into the sides of the hills and they curved around the mountain. Elevation levels varied greatly and oxygen levels waxed and waned, as well as the ability of the 4 cylinder hatchback to make it up and down the hills.

On this particular evening, it was very dark, very foggy and my night vision was limited due to the fact that the Pinto had one headlight, no heater and the windshield wipers didn't work. I had tied the muffler on at a previous point, so the car was vibrating wildly.

Digressing, I tell you that on the previous trip home, my muffler fell off and I stopped alongside the road, grabbing a coat hanger to twist around the pipe and the muffler. A nice gentleman stopped to help me - told me he was a Chaplain. I was still sitting inside the car and suddenly got creeped out by some bad karma. I told him "thanks anyway" and he tried to get into the car. I drove off, him still holding the car door handle, dragging him along a little ways.

Back to the trip home, I could see nothing ahead of me and the roads were curving sharply so I became some kind of intuitive machine, following only the reflectors on the edge of the highway, knowing that the drop-off of the edge of the mountain was infinite. I could see my own breath since the heater was broken. The steering wheel was rattling and vibrating. When another car approached I slowed way down and hoped for the best. It was a 5-1/2 hour trip that night.

When I got home, my mother and her best friend were very angry that I was late. They were sitting at the small kitchen table at the house that my father had built. He was not there anymore, having passed away before the kitchen cabinets could be completed. My mother and her friend finally calmed down and asked me how the trip went.


Posted by Virginia Erdie on 3/30/09

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