At 7:30 I called Ann as the Friends of the Library authors’ event was winding down. “I’ll be home in an hour, I told her” as I made my last round of thank yous and goodbyes.
But as I tried to make my way from the Pulaski Library back onto Highway 99 that was my only known way back to the interstate, my heart sank.
Guess what–the Christmas Parade was well underway–on 99. I fumbled my way onto what I hoped was a collateral, and sure enough, arrived 1/2 mile down 99, blocked by a police car with flashing blue lights, the parade in full swing. As far as I could see ahead, parade. Two-foot tall kindergarten elves plodded behind crepe-papered riding lawnmowers ad nauseum.
It was one of those classic “this can’t be happening” moments. I turned off the engine right there, several dozen idling cars behind the cops, and called Ann. “Update: I’ll be home, hopefully, in two or three hours.”
After ten minutes when it got good and cold, I decided I’d rather be warm, lost and moving than cold in a known location stuck for another hour of tractor-floats. I struck out. I got lost. I found my way back, another half mile up 99. Parade.
I admitted defeat and pulled into a MacDonalds for a pit stop first, then an hour nap. As I pulled open the glass door by the drive-up window, I was the Black Hole of Christmas Cheer.
“Hey Fred, what are you doing here?” came a familiar voice from the car-full of kids waiting for Happy Meals.
I’m far from home. I’m hopelessly stuck in an unfamiliar town. I’m exhausted and ill-tempered. And then an angel appeared.
I followed her tail lights through the same residential neighborhood where I’d given up and turned around. She blinkered me left onto an unfamiliar road and gave me the thumbs-up. I was home by 8:30. Thank you lord for Susan, my hamburger helper.