Cleveland Road Rage: Vol. 2 I've been having big time sequel-phobia about my Cleveland Road Rage piece. Will Vol. 2 be worthy of Vol. 1? What if everyone says, ‘oh she should have just stuck with one and not tried to expand it'? Or what if no one read the first one and now must face the second one? What if they're all bored with the Cleveland stories and want me back in Los Angeles? What if. . .What if. . .what if. . .neurosis. . . neurotic. . .neurotus. . .ahhhhhh!
Before I go crashing into Vol. 2, I will give you a capsule summary of Vol. 1. I went to Cleveland (Ohio) for my brother's wedding on the first weekend of May (yes, a month ago, it's been a long slow recovery). After a traumatic rental car shuttle bus ride, my rental car upgraded to a bright red sporty Alero which I promptly took up to 75 on the freeway. Realizing everyone else around me was driving 65 (it's a little slower in Cleveland), I took it down a notch. On Saturday night, boyfriend Colm and I drove to my Mom's house in Painesville (also in Ohio) for dinner which was quite nice, but little did we know, a storm was approaching. . .
And now, Volume 2 of Cleveland Road Rage. Dahdum! Obviously I'm still alive because I'm telling you the tale.
We pulled out of Mom's driveway at about 10:00pm and made a left then another left then a right then a left to get out of the housing development. My brother and I once got lost in the housing development. We drove around making rights and lefts and more lefts and rights. We tried to pin down landmarks, but there were none because all the houses look the same in the dark. We got scared---terrified even. We were fish out of water, flopping around on the beach while sunburned children built sandcastles over us. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme. When my bro and I finally made it out, we resolved to never live in a housing development. What develops in a housing development anyway? Not much I think. This time, I trusted my lefts and rights, I used the force, I channeled the spirits, I shouted ‘whoopee!' as Colm and I flew out onto a country road. We went back the way we came and onto Interstate 90.
I-90 in Northeast Ohio is a long, flat boring highway. On a clear day, you can see for miles ahead, but really all you will be seeing is more long, flat boring freeway. There are trees on either side with the occasional fast food sign growing beside them. At night, you're driving in total darkness with only the road and a few other cars to follow.
As we drove on, we saw lightning over the road in front of us.
"It's probably far away." Colm said with assurance and optimism. I did not mention that it was a far away that we were heading towards.
We heard some thunder, then came some raindrops. I turned on the windshield wipers. The rain came harder and faster (wait, I didn't just write that---oh yes! Harder and faster came the rain---it was…..pornographic!). I turned the wipers to the super fast setting as I squinted through the windshield.
"It's okay. I can still see the road." I said with assurance and optimism even though I was really following the yellow line.
When the yellow line became a barrage of water splattering up from the road and my only beacon was the light from a semi about a mile ahead of me, I no longer had assurance or optimism. This was bad.
We pulled off the road under a bridge and turned the hazard lights on. The rain thumped on the bridge. It was so dark. It was quiet except for the occasional whoosh of a passing truck and wheesh of a passing car.
How can they drive in this weather? How could I have forgotten how to drive in this weather? Only a year and a half ago, I was driving in blizzards and resolving to never drive in blizzards again. Look at me now---I'm freaking out in a torrential down pour.
Almost as quickly as the rain came on, it went away, and we started on our way again. By the time we were on 271 and ten minutes from our hotel in Beachwood, the road was totally dry as if rain had never happened. However, just as we pulled into the hotel parking lot, the rain started up again---just in time for us to pull our luggage out of the car.
My brother's wedding was a lovely Sunday morning ceremony followed by a nice brunch. It was lovely, simple, tasteful, and (most importantly) indoors.
True to Cleveland form, the weather was cold, gray, rainy. Is it good luck to have rain on weddings---or is that just funerals?
I was stubborn and adamant that I wear my pink strapless summer dress even though Colm thought it would be more practical to go in pants. I was gonna wear my summer dress darn it, even if I have to layer two jackets over it.
Fortunately the wedding had that great parking tradition: Valet Parking.
I discovered valet parking after I moved out to LA. At first, it was difficult to turn my car over to a stranger in exchange for a piece of paper. But then, I realized that valet parking represented civilized society at its very best. When I needed my car back again, I got it back after a small cash transaction. I realized that valet parking depends on trust between strangers. All the societies of the world should be built on such trust.
Arriving at my brother's wedding, I pulled up to the Valet Parking stud boy. He even had an umbrella waiting. Oh yes, Ohio can be quite civilized.
My Dad later told me that he told the Valet Boy that he could park his own car by himself. Dad said this proudly like a cowboy unwilling to give up his horse. It should also be noted that the groom's family doesn't have to do squat at the wedding (we looked it up in etiquette books), yet, somehow, the groom's family made their presence known at my brother's wedding. We didn't plan anything disruptive. We didn't seek the spotlight, but somehow. . .
GO BRO GO!
I flew out of Cleveland on Monday. My day began with me brushing ice off the car windows. The weather was (yes, you guessed it) cold, grey, cloudy, miserable. I held my fist up to the sky and shouted, "Damn you Cleveland weather! Damn you!"
Flying on airplanes has become a total pain in the ass in the last three years. I have three airport rules: (1) don't pack scissors, (2) accept that you have no power, that airport security is god, and (3) your one and only goal is to get on the plane---the plane is it, the plane is everything, the plane is heaven.
I walked through the airport in my cold weather gear---knitted cap, scarf, jacket. I didn't have gloves, but I didn't need them where I was going. I was going back to warm, sweet California with palm trees and beaches and sunshine. Then I met moron security guy who decided to be witty upon seeing my fashion statement.
"Where are you going, Alaska?" he asked.
"No. Back to California." I said.
"You're all bundled up. It's not cold here. You need to be thick blooded."
Thick blooded? Thick blooded? I don't want to be thick blooded. I want to be back in the sunshine and beaches and palm trees. I wanted to tell off this security moron and kick his ass all the way to where the sun don't shine, but then I realized he was already where the sun don't shine---he was in Cleveland. I remembered the goal. Get on the plane and get the feck out of here. I took a deep breath and smiled. I put my bag on the x-ray conveyer belt. I hiked the marathon long concourse. I got on the plane. . .and I slept all the way back to Los Angeles.